I am a believer who has just accepted God’s work. Even though fellowship meetings and daily devotions are very important to a Christian, my demanding and tiring job robs all the time I have. I make good money but I always feel the emptiness and shame. How do I balance daily devotions and a hectic work life?
Dear Xiao Dong,
How are you? Your question has bothered me for a very long time as well. Through fellowshiping with brothers and sisters in the Lord, and continuing to read God’s words, I started to know God’s intentions. To balance work and faith, and to have a proper perspective on work, we need to understand the following two points:
First, what is the purpose of work ultimately?
Maybe you would say that isn’t it reasonable for everyone to strive for a great career so that they can support their family? Indeed, God has given us two hands so we can work and support our family. Yet, the reality is, we work hard to satisfy our greedy desires. Someone has a house and enough money but still makes calculations and plans and wants to earn more money for children; someone wants to buy a bigger house or luxurious cars to enjoy a better life, and finally gain respect from others. Examining our hearts carefully, we do not lack food or clothes, or money, but we have too many extravagant desires. The heart of pursuing fame and money is controlling us.
Just as God’s words say: “People think that once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them to enjoy high status and great wealth, and to enjoy life. Once they have fame and gain, they can then capitalize on them in their pleasure-seeking and unscrupulous enjoyment of the flesh. People willingly, albeit unknowingly, take their bodies, minds, all that they have, their futures and their destinies and hand them all over to Satan in order to attain the fame and gain they desire. People do this without ever a moment’s hesitation, ever ignorant of the need to recover it all. … Once someone is mired in fame and gain, they no longer seek that which is bright, that which is righteous or those things that are beautiful and good. This is because the seductive power that fame and gain have over people is too great, and they become things for people to pursue throughout their lives and even for all eternity without end. Is this not true?”
God’s words are very revealing. They expose our true desires. We strive hard for a good career so we will have fame, money and respect from others. “Money talks,” “Money makes the world go round,” “Be successful so you can bring glory to your family,” these poisons of Satan have become the creeds of our lives. As a result, we think that fame and money can bring us a good life and are the foundation of an enjoyable life ahead. In order to gain fame and money, we spend much time and energy on our work, no matter how bitter or tired we are. We have become a money-making machine, tired, bitter, empty, helpless, and joyless. Even worse, we show less and less interest in our unalterable duty—believing in God and worshiping Him. We start to neglect God. Satan has stolen us from God. Without the provision of God, our inner darkness starts to grow and disobedience starts to creep in to a point where we are totally separated from God and lose His salvation. Money and fame are tricks with which Satan deceives and afflicts us. It is a wrong path. If we don’t purse money, is our quality of life going to be worse?
Jesus said, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceeds out of the mouth of God”(Mat 4:4). “Therefore I say to you, Take no thought for your life, what you shall eat, or what you shall drink; nor yet for your body, what you shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not much better than they?” (Mat 6:25-26). “Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knows that you have need of all these things” (Mat 6:31-32).
God’s word truly makes us understand that everything is in His control, including our life and work. As long as we have trust in Him and live by His words, we will see His blessings. As a Christian, we have to make a judgement on everything by using His words and let God’s word be the foundation of our life.
All our material needs are provided by God. The Bible tells the story of the prophet Elijah. When he hid himself by the brook Cherith, God commanded ravens to bring food to him. I think we all have such experiences. When we are touched by God’s love, we are willing to expend for the Lord. In the beginning, we may be concerned about the shortfall of income, but as time goes by, we will find out God has given more than we need. At this time, we will see that God’s grace is abundantly sufficient and we do not have many extravagant desires and feel relaxed.
In fact, our faith and work do not contradict each other. How do we build a normal relationship with God at work?
Second, refocus and we will see God’s hand in our work.
The Lord Jesus said, “God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (Jhn 4:24). God is a Spirit. He controls everything. We can worship God and build a relationship with Him at any time and at anyplace. If we focus on experiencing His words during work, then we can see His wonderful deeds in everything and enjoy His daily company. He will help us to resolve problems and difficulties and teach us how to be an honest person. After we gain some truths, we can have a positive attitude towards daily work even though we are busy and physically tired.
Let me share with you my real experience. At the beginning, I thought work is work and belief is belief. These two things are totally unrelated. Only in church meetings can I truly worship God. I was working in a restaurant at that time. I was super busy and there were several church meetings every week. I always felt short of time and did not have time to read God’s words, let alone experience God’s words. And I also felt my working hours were long and tedious. A sister shared with me a paragraph of God’s word during a meeting, “Because in order to walk in God’s way, we cannot let go of anything to do with ourselves, or anything that happens around us, even the little things. No matter whether we think we should pay attention to it or not, as long as any matter is facing us we should not let it go. All of it should be viewed as God’s test for us. How’s this kind of attitude? If you have this kind of attitude, then it confirms one fact: Your heart fears God, and your heart is willing to shun evil. If you have this desire to satisfy God, then what you put into practice isn’t far from the standard of fearing God and shunning evil.
“There are often those who believe that the matters which aren’t paid much heed by people, the matters that aren’t usually mentioned—these are merely minor trifles, and they don’t have anything to do with putting truth into practice. When these people are faced with just such a matter, they don’t give it much thought and let it slide. But in actual fact, this matter is a lesson for which you should be studying, a lesson on how to fear God, on how to shun evil. Moreover, what you should be even more concerned about is knowing what God is doing when this matter arises to face you. God is right at your side, observing every one of your words and deeds, observing your actions, your mind changes—this is God’s work.”
Through reading God’s words and fellowshiping with my sisters, I knew I needed to treat people and work according to God’s words. All the things we see, people we meet, work that we do are trials of varying degrees given by God. He wants us to have a God-fearing heart and faithfully follow His words in all things. I did not know how to commune with God in the past, and I did not know how to put His words into practice either. I had wasted so many opportunities to gain the truth. But then I started to pay attention to God’s deeds and experience His words in my work.
Once, my manager instructed me to add more miscellaneous items on customers’ checks so we could charge them more. When thinking the Lord’s words, “But let your communication be, Yes, yes; No, no: for whatever is more than these comes of evil” (Mat 5:37), I knew I should not cheat customers, yet I did not want to offend my manager. I did not want him to dock my bonus or even worse, fire me. I then suddenly realized that this was a trial from God and that God was beside me looking at my attitude. I prayed to God, “Oh, God. I’m willing to forsake my flesh to practice the truth. No matter how others treat me, I will pay attention to living before You, building a normal relationship with You, living out Your words and practicing to be honest. May You help me.” After praying, my heart was calmed. Although I didn’t do as the manager told me but acted according to God’s requirements, my manager didn’t say a word or scold me. From this, I realized that when practicing God’s words, we can gain inner peace, which is something money can never buy. Later, I always focused on practicing God’s words in my work life. I felt I have restored a normal relationship with God and my work was not tedious any more.
To balance work life and faith, we don’t have to sacrifice anything. We just need to follow God’s words and let them be the guiding principles of our life. In this way, you will reap freedom and inner peace and blessings from God. May God bless you!