Today's Broadcast

Finding a Job that Fits

A Message by R.C. Sproul

Many people are spending forty or more hours a week performing job duties that have nothing to do with their God-given vocation. What good reason do you have to account for all that time you spend at your present job? Do you believe that there is no other job out there that will suit you? In this message entitled "Finding a Job That Fits," Dr. Sproul gives us some biblical and practical ways to discover our vocation.

From the series: Knowing God's Will

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Further Study On This Topic

  1. devotional

    The Fitting Job For You

  2. devotional

    Earning an Honest Living

  3. article

    Using Your Gifts

The Fitting Job For You

Labor, our culture often tries to tell us, is always pure drudgery. During the work week, we are supposed to count down the days until we have time off again. We have all been tempted when Friday comes to be excited to get as far away from our jobs as possible. Often, a period of retirement in which you stop working altogether and live on a perpetual vacation is portrayed as the highest ideal.

Of course, we do not want to suggest that proper periods of rest are bad or that it is improper to retire from a particular line of work at a particular age in order to do something else. However, we must not accept the nonbiblical ideas that work is inherently evil and that we should do whatever we can to get away from it. Labor is actually a good thing, a gift from the Lord that helps give us purpose and enables us to do good to others.

We know that lawful work is good because God commanded us to labor before the fall (Gen. 3). He tasked Adam with tending the garden of Eden (Gen. 2:15). Imagine how wonderful that must have been. No thorns and thistles to deal with. No crop failures or difficulty in getting the fruit to grow. Before we fell and the Lord cursed the ground, work was pure joy. In fact, we will work into eternity, and then our work will be pure joy once again. Our work then will be to worship the Lord day and night, enjoying His presence (Rev. 22:1-5).

In the present era, the world suffers the curse brought on by the fall, and that means that our work at times is extraordinarily difficult and fraught with hardship (Gen. 3:17-19). But the Lord did not create things that way, so we need not think that God's purpose is to give us a day job that we hate. He created us to find joy and fulfillment in our labor, and though the effects of the fall are felt in every vocation, we can and should be able to rejoice in our work, at least for the most part. That is why we should seek a vocation that fits our interests and talents, and when we find it, we should not worry if we are where the Lord truly wants us to be as long as the work does not require us to do something that is contrary to God's Word.

At times, we will have duties that we would not have chosen if it were up to us. Moreover, if our family depends on us for support, we cannot quit a job that we hate if we have no other option for earning a living (1 Tim. 4:8). Still, let us remember that our kind Lord knows that we work best when we enjoy what we do, so we should seek out a vocation we enjoy.

Earning an Honest Living

Having been justified by the imputation of Christ’s righteousness through faith alone, we are sent forth to do good works and live unto the glory of God (Eph. 2:8–10). Continuing his description of what such living entails, Paul explains in Ephesians 4:28 that glorifying the Lord means honest labor, generosity, and the refusal to steal from others.

The apostle commands individuals to engage in theft no longer, which implies that some in the Ephesian church were guilty of stealing. Commentators believe Paul refers specifically to day laborers, the skilled, seasonal workers who made up much of the ancient Roman Empire. Because their work was irregular, these people would have been especially tempted to supplement their income through petty theft and other forms of stealing during the lean months of the year for their trades. Former pagans would have had few problems with this practice, so it was imperative for Paul to remind them that life in Christ means honest work. Believers are not allowed to steal from others; rather, they must earn their living through diligent, God-honoring employment (Gen. 2:15; Ex. 20:15; 1 Peter 4:15).

Most of us were probably not thieves in the past, nor is it likely that we are mugging people or breaking into homes today. Lest we believe ourselves innocent, however, note that much theft goes unnoticed. We might steal time from our employers by working thirty-six hours when we are paid for forty. Perhaps we are inclined to vote money out of others’ pockets at the ballot box. Maybe we attempt to rob the glory due our Creator alone through serving idols. If we own a business, we may cheat the customer in the quality of our products or compensate employees in a manner ill-befitting their efficiency and effectiveness. All of these examples are forbidden behaviors (Lev. 19:36; Isa. 48:11; 61:8; Matt. 25:14–30; Luke 10:7).

Furthermore, the answer to theft for the Christian is not merely to stop stealing; rather, honest, productive labor must also be sought. God works, and in imitation of Him we must work hard in jobs that make the best use of our talents and honor our Creator. Such labor is not for our benefit alone but also to help those who are in dire need and cannot provide for themselves (Eph. 4:28).

Using Your Gifts

Ken Jones

In his correspondences with the various churches with which he interacted, the Apostle Paul is clear on the fact that God endows individuals within the body of Christ with skills and abilities for the purpose of edifying the whole body. In 1 Corinthians 12:7, he says it is generally the case that the manifestation of spiritual gifts are for "the common good." And by common good in that context, he means the body of Christ either at large or locally. In Ephesians 4:16, he describes the church as a human body with individual parts that are "joined and held together by every joint with which it is equipped." And we are further told that when each joint is "working properly," it "makes the body grow, so that it builds itself up in love." This is part of the beauty of the body of Christ. And one of the benefits of being a part of that body is that the mercies and love of God, which are located in Christ, are conveyed to us and nurtured within us and through the agency and giftedness of those with whom we are in fellowship.

However, the testimony of Scripture is that throughout redemptive history, God's people have used their gifts not just for those within the covenant community but for others as well. In fact, Abraham is told at the time of his calling that he will "be a blessing" (Gen. 12:2). Ultimately, Abraham is a blessing to "all the families of the earth" because in him we have the line from which Christ comes. But in Genesis 14, Abraham takes his army of 318 trained servants and defeats a coalition of nations that had taken his nephew Lot captive. The pagan kingdoms of Sodom and Gomorrah also benefit from Abraham's victory.

There are two other Old Testament examples illustrated with even more clarity. In the first place, there is the case of Joseph in the book of Genesis after he had been sold into slavery and brought to Egypt. While Joseph was a servant in Potiphar's house, we read:

The Lord was with Joseph, and he became a successful man and he was in the house of his Egyptian master. His master saw that the Lord was with him and that the Lord caused all that he did to succeed in his hands. (Gen. 39:2–3)

The fact that Potiphar "saw that the Lord was with Joseph" and caused him to succeed does not mean that Potiphar gained a full and saving knowledge of God. But it does seem to indicate that Potiphar realized that Joseph's extraordinary skills and success were divinely inspired, so much so that he put all of his household business under Joseph's oversight. Eventually, things between Joseph and Potiphar soured because of false charges brought against Joseph by Potiphar's wife that caused Joseph's master to throw him in prison.

When Joseph is introduced to us in Genesis 37, he is depicted as a dreamer of dreams. But while in prison, he was gifted with the ability to interpret dreams. Eventually, this gift brought him before Pharaoh to interpret a difficult and troubling dream. When Pharaoh had Joseph brought into his presence he said, "I have heard it said of you that when you hear a dream, you can interpret it" (Gen. 41:15). Joseph responded by saying, "It is not in me; God will give Pharaoh a favorable answer" (v. 16). In this "favorable answer," Pharaoh was warned of a coming famine and instructed on how to establish a surplus ahead of the famine, a surplus that would allow people from outlying areas to buy grain during this period. Ultimately, God used the Egyptian surplus to preserve the seed of Abraham and the messianic line (45:7). Pharaoh raised Joseph to the position of second in command in Egypt because, as he acknowledged, "can we find a man like this in whom is the spirit of God?" (41:38). We are not told whether Joseph's encounter led people to worship the God of Joseph, but we do know that his gifts were used for the benefit of many (50:20).

The second example is Daniel and his three friends while in Babylon. Daniel 1:17 says, "As for these four youths, God gave them learning and skill in all literature and wisdom, and Daniel had understanding in all visions and dreams." The king of Babylon acknowledged these young men to be "ten times better than all the magicians and enchanters that were in all his kingdom" (Dan. 1:20). As the Egyptian pharaoh did with Joseph, the king of Babylon placed Daniel and his friends "over the affairs of the province of Babylon" (2:49).

What is on display in these Old Testament examples is what the Apostle Paul admonishes in Philippians 2:15: "That you may be blameless and innocent, children of God without blemish in the midst of a crooked and twisted generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." Yes, we have a prophetic function in this world sounding forth the word of God. We also have an evangelistic function in this world, captured in the Great Commission. But on top of all of that, we have a neighborly function in this world, captured in the summary of the second table of the law, which is to love our neighbors as ourselves. We are to use our gifts for the good and the well-being of all, in our homes, our jobs, in our communities, and throughout the world, as we have opportunity. This is what it means to be salt and light in a dark and unsavory world.

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