My Devotionals


An acronym for how to love your job without making it an idol

Dear children, keep yourselves from idols. (1 John 5:21)

We’ve seen a few helpful definitions of idolatry throughout this series. Let me offer my own: An idol is anything you can’t live without. It’s anything other than God that functions as your deepest source of joy.

And so, if we want to keep our work from becoming an idol, we would be wise to voluntarily practice self-denial—resting from the good gift of work as a means of proving to ourselves that God is the only thing we ultimately need.

Pastor Joe Rigney whose book Strangely Bright inspired me to write this devotional series says this about self-denial: “Biblical self-denial is the voluntary giving up of good things for the sake of better things…[it] keeps our legitimate love of earthly things [like work] in check. We enjoy them when we have them. But we don't covet and crave them….We can voluntarily give them up for the sake of knowing Christ Jesus our Lord.”

That brings us...

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What it means to "set your mind on things above”

Since, then, you have been raised with Christ, set your hearts on things above, where Christ is, seated at the right hand of God. Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. (Colossians 3:1-2)

Last week, I argued that paradoxically one way to ensure your work doesn’t become an idol is to enjoy your work most fully as a means of better appreciating the “betterness” of Christ.

But how does that advice match up with today’s passage? Isn’t Paul telling us to ignore “earthly things” like work and focus our mind on exclusively heavenly things? 

Not exactly. A few verses later Paul explains what he meant by “earthly things” saying this: "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry” (Colossians 3:5-6). 

The word Paul used for “earthly things” in verse 2 is the exact same word we translate...

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Enjoy work more—not less—to fight idolatry

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)

We’re in a series exploring four principles for enjoying our work without turning our jobs into idols. Last week we unpacked Principle #1: Insist that Jesus is better. Today we turn to Principle #2: Delight in your work freely and fully.

Now, I know that may seem oxymoronic. After all, if Jesus is better than my job, shouldn’t I try to love my work less, not more? I’d argue that’s impossible to do and foolish to try for two reasons. 

First, God created you to enjoy your work. Work was God’s first gift to humankind in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 1:26-28) and one of the many gifts he has in store for us on the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23). So, to try to love your work less is to fight against God’s design.

Second, the more you enjoy God’s gifts, the more you can appreciate the “betterness” of God. You see this...

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Want to kill idols? Reserve this adjective for God alone.

Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. (Matthew 22:37)

There’s a tension we see throughout Scripture. 

On the one hand, we are invited to delight in creation and our work with creation. “Every good gift” is from God (James 1:17) given to us “for our enjoyment” (1 Timothy 6:17). And that includes our work! Ecclesiastes 2:24 says “a person can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in their own toil” because those good things are “from the hand of God.”

These verses are good examples of what I call the “delight in creation” passages of Scripture. But on the other side of this perceived biblical tension, we find the “delight in Creator” passages that command us to love God above all things. This was summarized most succinctly in Jesus’s articulation of the Greatest Commandment above.

So, we are called to delight in the gifts...

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