By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Is it acceptable if what you do for a living makes you happy? Better yet, is it acceptable if what you do for a living makes you miserable? The job you secured was no small task and it is surely not something you should take for granted. There are upwards of 100+ people who apply for every open job. The work you put in to position yourself a cut above the rest shows you are diligent and resourceful.
Ecclesiastes 3:12-13 (ESV): I perceived that there is nothing better for them than to be joyful and to do good as long as they live; also that everyone should eat and drink and take pleasure in all his toil—this is God's gift to man.
We are to be joyful in all our endeavors because they are a gift from God. Your job, your education, and your lifestyle are the result of God showering blessings on you. The work you put in to multiply your gift is similar to the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14–30). It pleases God when you put in the work to grow your gifts.
Proverbs 22:9 (ESV): Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men
There are several passages throughout Scripture where the skilled are being recognized. God wants us to find joy in our toils, even though they can be grinds. Things are not going to come easy, and you have to be motivated by something other than personal gain. Scripture says we are to work our jobs as if we are working for God (Colossians 3:23). When we look at every opportunity as an opportunity to further the kingdom of God, we will be suited to work with love and patience.
2 Timothy 2:15 (ESV): Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who has no need to be ashamed, rightly handling the word of truth.
Work ethic is not something you can turn on like a switch. Either you are responsible and committed, or you are someone who does the minimal and hopes to get by. The apostle Paul refers to himself as the most zealous and it is evident in all aspects of his life. When he was persecuting the church, he was signing the death certificates and dragging Christians out of hiding. When he became an apostle, he wrote the majority of the books in the New Testament, worked without accepting pay, trained disciples, and traveled to spread the word. Paul found joy serving the Lord in all aspects of his life. His second job as a tentmaker allowed him the ability to decline pay from the church. While it may have appeared to be unrelated to the church, Paul allowed the churches to help others every time he declined pay. Is it okay to be happy with the work you do? Yes, as long as you understand the glory goes to God and everything you accomplish is a blessing from Him.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Have you ever noticed that Jesus likes to challenge social norms in His parables? For many during that time, if you say the name tax collector and Pharisee in the same sentence, you automatically think something positive is going to be said about the Pharisee and negative about the tax collector.
Luke 18:10-14 (ESV): “Two men went up into the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector. The Pharisee, standing by himself, prayed thus: ‘God, I thank you that I am not like other men, extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even like this tax collector. I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I get.’ But the tax collector, standing far off, would not even lift up his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, ‘God, be merciful to me, a sinner!’ I tell you, this man went down to his house justified, rather than the other. For everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, but the one who humbles himself will be exalted.”
In this situation, Jesus is trying to teach the crowd to look for the humble person. If someone has a prestigious position, but he or she is not humble, God will not exalt them and we should not either. God is not pleased with someone who thinks they are the sole result of all their blessings. God wants us to glorify His name when we succeed.
To show the importance of humility, Jesus juxtaposes the “righteous” Pharisee against the “sinful” tax collector. Since the tax collector was humble and the Pharisee was not, God exalted the tax collector. As much wrongdoing as it is believed a tax collector participated in on a regular basis, his humility took precedence.
James 4:6 (ESV): But he gives more grace. Therefore it says, “God opposes the proud, but gives grace to the humble.”
It is vital to remember we have all sinned and fallen short of the glory of God. To look at our sin and feel justified when comparing them to another’s is unwise. If you are humble, you will be like Paul and see yourself as the chief sinner. Paul’s humility is one of the reasons God exalted him. The sin of killing and persecuting Christians would disqualify him from being an apostle in most of our views, but not God’s. God saw a person who was wrong and misguided, but that is what He has seen in all of us at some point.
Which person will you be?
The humble will accept the reality they cannot earn their salvation, and they will seek God’s assistance. The proud will believe they are a good person, living the best they can; and you cannot expect perfection. The choice is clear, neither are perfect, but only one God exalts to the status of “sons of the Most High God”. Choose wisely.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
Do your words match your beliefs? I love how James asks for the wise and understanding to be identified. First, he is not necessarily asking for people to self-identify as “wise and understanding”. The way it is worded, it makes me think of the way the apostles told the early church to identify “seven men of good repute, full of the Spirit and of wisdom” (Acts 6:3). In both cases, the responsibility appears to be on the congregation to make the proper judgment.
James 3:13-14 (ESV): Who is wise and understanding among you? By his good conduct let him show his works in the meekness of wisdom. But if you have bitter jealousy and selfish ambition in your hearts, do not boast and be false to the truth.
The reason is given in the next sentence. James, inspired by the Holy Spirit wants Christians to judge situations based on the evidence. If you want to know who the smartest person at your job is, you would not ask the employees what they thought about themselves - you would ask them to name others. As you keep hearing the same name, you can be confident you found your person.
Romans 12:9-13 (ESV): Let love be genuine. Abhor what is evil; hold fast to what is good. Love one another with brotherly affection. Outdo one another in showing honor. Do not be slothful in zeal, be fervent in spirit, serve the Lord. Rejoice in hope, be patient in tribulation, be constant in prayer. Contribute to the needs of the saints and seek to show hospitality.
If someone believes he or she is a follower of Christ, how should you go about confirming this? The apostle Paul tells their love should be genuine. He then helps us understand what it means to have a genuine love. He tells us to abhor evil and cling to what is good. When someone identifies himself or herself as a follower of Christ, we should find out if they possess these traits. When we are asking others about the person, we should be trying to understand if they love others with brotherly affection, are zealous for the Lord, and show honor to others. Do they rejoice in the hope of salvation, are they patient when times get tough, and do they pray constantly? They also need to be supporting the church and looking for opportunities to be hospitable to the household of faith. To understand someone properly takes time and we should avoid making snap judgments. If we have the time to get to know someone, great; but if not, we are to see what those who know him or her say about him or her.
By: Undre Griggs, Jr.
As we begin a new year, it is always fun to imagine the changes we are going to create in our life. We may want to get that gym membership, call our parents more, or be nicer to others. Whatever it is that we want to change in our life, it requires a complete commitment to that change. Buying the gym membership is nice, but maybe you need the extra accountability of a personal trainer. Wanting to speak to your parents more is thoughtful, but maybe you need to set time aside to visit them as well. Sometimes it requires a little more than what we intended to accomplish our goals; but if we truly want to succeed, we have to be willing to do what it takes.
Romans 12:2 (ESV): Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.
As Christians, our commitment to God is no different. We are to live a life where we are separate from the world in many ways. We should not feel the need to retaliate, and we should be willing to be kind to the “wicked and ungrateful” (Luke 6:36). For us to achieve this goal, we need to put all of our energy into learning the word of God. This will provide us the clarity to make decisions that are aligned with His will.
Philippians 4:8 (ESV): Finally, brothers, whatever is true, whatever is honorable, whatever is just, whatever is pure, whatever is lovely, whatever is commendable, if there is any excellence, if there is anything worthy of praise, think about these things.
Like most aspirations, we often know what it takes and are simply not doing it. If we asked someone the process of losing weight, he or she would likely say: eat less and work out more. If we asked someone the process of becoming a better Christian, they would likewise say: go to church and read the Bible. Now both cases are more complex than what I laid out, but you get the picture. If you want to be a better Christian, you need to focus on things that will give you a Christian frame of mind. Pessimism is the choice of the world, but optimism is the preference is Christians. If you want to read your Bible more, try watching TV less. Television is full of programming that is riddled with pessimism. If you only focus on things that honorable, just, pure, and lovely; I can all but guarantee you will have the mindset to be a better Christian. Just remember, all good things come from above (James 1:17) and if you want to show God your appreciation for what He has given you; be obedient. Like any good parent, they give everything they have to the well-being of their children. The only thing they expect in return is for the child to show their love by listening to their parents (1 John 5:3).