When work becomes a pain-killer

In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)

We’re in a four-week series exploring the work beneath our work—in other words, the ultimate why underneath what we do.

Now, if you are subscribed to my devotionals, part of your motivation for your work is undoubtedly to leverage your vocation for the glory of God and the good of others. But if you find yourself consistently overworking—if you find that you’re unable to rest and “turn your brain off” at home—it’s worth asking whether there are deeper motivations for your work that are less than God-honoring.

Last week, we looked at one of those motivations: performance. Today we look at another: avoidance.

I know a lot of Christians who are using their work as a narcotic to avoid dealing with their depression, conflict with a family member, or a sense of inadequacy they feel when they’re at home compared to when they’re at their desk.

It’s a lot easier to work hard at the office than it is to deal with these things. And so we work hard to numb the pain that comes with doing the harder work that awaits us when we step away from our laptops and workbenches.

How do we free ourselves from this work beneath our work? By looking to Christ.

As today’s passage reminds us, Jesus was under no obligation to enter our mess and save us. It was perfectly within his rights to avoid our sin and suffering. And yet, he “did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing,” on our behalf (Philippians 2:6-7).

What is our response to Christ’s unfathomable grace and mercy? To “have the same mindset as Christ Jesus” (Philippians 2:5) which includes entering into the messes around us rather than using overwork as an anesthetic against hard things.

Is God bringing to mind something you’re trying to avoid with your overwork? Ask him for the Christ-like courage to lean into that hard thing today for his greater glory.


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