Written By Faith Yong, Singapore
“Faith! Join us after service today for lunch . . . Don’t tell me you’re working on a Sunday again . . . you’re always working!”
Unfortunately, it was true. Week after week, Sunday after Sunday, I would attend service and mingle briefly with my cell group mates before rushing off to grab lunch so that I could reach home earlier—to catch up with work.
Although I was physically in church, my heart and mind were elsewhere. I was constantly on my phone monitoring office WhatsApp group chats. I would fidget or feel uneasy if I did not see any work-related message or email.
I was also constantly postponing meetings with friends. I was spending less time at home and more in office, because I craved my bosses’ approval and affirmation. I was desperate to hear my bosses say, “Great job, Faith, here’s the ‘A’ that you worked so hard for . . .”
I was married to work.
Yet, in spite of my efforts and the long hours I put into work, the “A” grade that I craved never came. Instead, what I got was anger, disappointment, and discontentment.
The turning point came when a close friend asked me one day: “If I were to remove work and the organization that you work for, who are you? What are you working for?”
I was dumbfounded. That night, I lay awake thinking about why I was working so hard. Unable to sleep, I Googled “hard work, bible” and was directed to Colossians 3:23-24—two verses that I had highlighted in my Bible long ago, but had neglected to observe.
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
The Bible does not frown on hard work. In fact, the author of Colossians, Paul, exhorted and encouraged it. But he stressed that the goal of hard work should not be to win our earthly masters’ favor. Nor did he mention achieving top honors. Rather, he focused on two key aspects: the condition of our hearts, and our reverence for God. As children of God, we are, above all, servants of Christ; our goal is to win the approval not of human beings, but of God (Galatians 1:10).
How we work shows what we place importance on, and reflects our identity in Christ. Are we looking forward to an inheritance and reward which is eternal, or are we focused on earthly and temporal rewards?
As I grappled with what it meant to be God’s servant—demonstrating excellence in what I did, yet fully trusting that God’s reward was all that mattered—I came to understand that resting in Christ was the key to getting my heart right before God and having true reverence for Him. In the process, I learned three things:
1. Physically retreat to a quiet place
Amid the busyness of His earthly ministry, even Jesus went away from the crowd and took time to rest, meditate on God’s word, fast, and pray. Being free from distraction and human chatter allows us to quieten and still our hearts.
2. Pray and commit our time to God
Once we have found a conducive environment and time, we need to pray for God’s guidance and protection over our time with Him. Because we have minds that wander off easily, we need to ask God to protect this time and keep our minds focused on Him.
3. Observe the Sabbath
We often mistake going to church on Sundays as observance of the Sabbath. But this is more than just the physical act of setting aside a day to go to church. Mark 2:27 reminds us that “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath”. The Sabbath is God’s provision for us to relax from our labor, to refresh our bodies and minds in Him, to commune with Him and fellow believers, and to delight in all that God has done for us.
Finding rest in Christ requires us to exercise humility and acknowledge that we need His wisdom and grace to get through the day and our responsibilities at work.
Have you made an idol out of your work? Have you been over-committing yourself to work, and failing to give God and your loved ones the first fruits of your time?