When a farmer plows for planting, does he plow continually? Does he keep on breaking up and working the soil?...His God instructs him and teaches him the right way. (Isaiah 28:24,26)
I was recently asked to speak to a group of pastors about Redeeming Your Time, my book that examines God’s Word and bestselling time management books for wisdom about how we can be maximally productive for God’s glory.
Before I took the stage, a pastor spoke and passionately called the audience to ignore “secular” business books. The essence of the man’s message was that, “The only book you need is the Good Book.”
When it was my turn to speak, I knew I couldn’t bite my tongue. So I addressed the pastor’s comments head on and said, “We might not ‘need’ these ‘secular’ business books per se. But God in his common grace has given great wisdom to Christians and non-Christians alike and we would be foolish not to learn from...
Love your enemies, do good to those who hate you. (Luke 6:27)
Last week, we began exploring how our work should be uncommonly shaped by the reality of common grace: the goodness God shows to “the righteous and the unrighteous,” his friends and his enemies (see Matthew 5:45).
Today, we’ll see that common grace should lead us to be good to our enemies.
Interestingly, that’s the context of Matthew 5:45. Jesus said, “I say to you, love your enemies, and pray for those who persecute you…because [God] makes his sun rise on both evil and good people, and he lets rain fall on the righteous and the unrighteous” (Matthew 5:44-45).
You see it right? Jesus is saying that we should do good to our enemies because of God’s common grace! God is so good that he longs to do good to “the righteous and the unrighteous.” And he’s calling you and me to be the conduits for his blessings.
Now, you may not have anyone at work you’d...
[God] causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good, and sends rain on the righteous and the unrighteous. (Matthew 5:45)
When the Apostle Paul said in Ephesians 2:8 that “it is by grace you have been saved,” he was referring to God’s saving grace: the grace that, through Christ, saves human beings from their sins.
Separate from saving grace is the doctrine of God’s common grace: the goodness God shows people regardless of their relationship with or faith in him.
That’s what Jesus was referring to in today’s passage when he said that God “causes his sun to rise on the evil and the good” (Matthew 5:45). Christ was saying that, while God is the source of “every good and perfect gift” (James 1:17), God chooses to give those gifts to “the righteous” and “to ungrateful and evil people” (Luke 6:35).
So, while only Christians are recipients of God’s saving grace, every human being is a constant ...
As the Father has loved me, so have I loved you. Now remain in my love. If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love. I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete. (John 15:9-11)
In Harry Potter and the Sorcerer’s Stone, Harry stumbles upon an enchanted mirror. Unlike normal mirrors, this one does not show the reflection of the person standing in front of it. Instead, it shows a reflection of “the deepest, most desperate desire” of that person’s heart.
But the object inside the mirror is just a mirage—a tantalizing vision trapped on the other side of the glass. This, of course, drives the mirror’s visitors mad with frustration.
But you and I both know this is a blessing in disguise. Because even if they were able to get their hands on the object of their affection, unless that object was Christ, it would inevitably disappoint....
Each of you should look not only to your own interests but also to the interests of others. (Philippians 2:4)
When I was researching my next book, I read tons of dense books with “paragraphs” that spanned entire pages—sometimes multiple pages. Every time I approached another mammoth passage, I felt exhausted before I even began reading. It felt like the cognitive equivalent of staring up at Mount Everest before an ascent.
After complaining about my own pain long enough (first-world problems, I know), the Lord reminded me that I’ve written some long paragraphs myself. And if long paragraphs made my work feel arduous, my longwindedness probably makes your reading feel arduous too.
So I went back through the manuscript I was writing and took a machete to the document, chopping every paragraph down to size.
That’s a small example of one reason I think we can all give thanks for the “thorns and thistles” that make our work difficult: Painful work...
Then Pilate took Jesus and had him flogged. The soldiers twisted together a crown of thorns and put it on his head. They clothed him in a purple robe and went up to him again and again, saying, “Hail, king of the Jews!” And they slapped him in the face. (John 19:1-3)
God never intended for work to be painful and frustrating. According to Genesis 1 and 2, work was God’s first gift to humankind!
But when sin entered the world, the curse broke every part of creation, including the world of work. God told Adam, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you” (see Genesis 3:17-18).
That backstory makes the Romans’ choice of a “crown of thorns” for Jesus all the more interesting. Knowingly or not, the Romans used a thorn—this symbol of the curse—to crown the One whose resurrection would overturn that curse. It is precisely...
When pride comes, then comes disgrace; but wisdom is with the humble. (Proverbs 11:2)
A few weeks ago, I was having dinner with one of my favorite authors—someone who has sold millions more books than I have.
I was picking my friend’s brain on publishing and book marketing, when all of a sudden, he started asking me questions about marketing children’s books.
Given the massive respect I have for this person, I was really taken aback by his questions. “Why are you asking me about book marketing?” I asked.
My friend replied, “Because I have not cracked the nut on children’s books, and honestly, it’s been a bit frustrating. You, on the other hand, seem to have figured this out.”
After muttering some false humility, my friend cut me off by quoting Ralph Waldo Emerson: “Jordan,” he said, “Everyone I meet is my superior in some way.”
I love that perspective. And my friend only had it because of the frustrating...
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.” (Genesis 3:17-18)
"Choose a job you love, and you will never have to work a day in your life." I don’t know who coined this popular piece of fortune cookie wisdom, but I can tell you they never read Genesis 3.
After sin entered the world, God said that work will be “painful toil…all the days of your life.” Not “painful toil…until you choose a job you love.” Work will be frustrating until the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23).
Now, I love what I do. I’ve never been more confident that creating content like these devotionals is the work God created me to do. And Lord willing,...
“The one who offers thanksgiving as his sacrifice glorifies me.” (Psalm 50:23)
“Glorify” is one of those Christianese terms we use so much that its meaning can feel muddled. So, when you read a passage like 1 Corinthians 10:31 that urges you to do “whatever you do…for the glory of God,” you might understandably wonder what that looks like practically—especially in the workplace.
Let’s look to God’s Word to remove some of the mystery together. Here are just five ways Scripture says you can “glorify” God at work today.
#1: Give thanks. Psalm 50:23 makes clear that simply thanking God for the gift of your work and the fruit it’s producing “glorifies” him.
#2: Do good work. Jesus said, “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matthew 5:16). The Greek word ergon that we translate to “good...
Return to your rest, my soul, for the Lord has been good to you….What shall I return to the Lord for all his goodness to me? (Psalm 116:7, 12)
A friend of mine was watching a kid play his heart out on the basketball court even though his team was up 20 points. After the game, my friend asked the boy why he was hustling so hard when victory was guaranteed. The kid’s response was perfect: “Because I love my coach.”
That’s a pretty good picture of what David is getting at in Psalm 116.
In verse 7, David instructs his soul to rest. Why? Because “the Lord has been good” to him. As we express gratitude for the things God has already done in and through our work, we can rest and be content even if the Lord doesn’t provide anything else in the future.
In short, thankfulness is a path to rest. But it’s not just a path to rest. In verse 12, David says that rest is a path to ambition—to leave it all out on the court, if you will....