The nations will walk by its light, and the kings of the earth will bring their splendor into it. On no day will its gates ever be shut, for there will be no night there. The glory and honor of the nations will be brought into it. (Revelation 21:24-26)
As we saw last week, the work you and I do today matters for eternity far beyond using our positions of influence to share the gospel. But before we go any further, let me clearly state the obvious: Sharing the gospel is a good, Jesus-commanded thing.
As I’ve written many times before, regardless of our vocation, we should all view ourselves as “full-time missionaries” making disciples of Jesus Christ as we go about our work. The point I want to make today is that Scripture hasn’t commanded us to only share the gospel, and by focusing so myopically on “saving souls,” we can miss Jesus’s bigger mission for his Kingdom and the bigger story for our work.
So, aside from using our work to share the gospel with co-workers and customers, what does Scripture have to say about how our work honors God? Here are three answers to that question.
First, our work matters because it is a means of glorifying God. 1 Corinthians 10:31 makes this clear, saying that we can do all things—even our work—for the glory of God. According to John Piper, “‘Glorifying’ means…acting in ways that reflect his greatness, that make much of God, that give evidence of the supreme greatness of all his attributes.” We worship a creative, productive, working God (see Genesis 1) and “reflect his greatness” when we work with excellence.
Second, our work matters because it is a means of loving our neighbors as ourselves. The pursuit of mastery in our work is one way in which we obey this famous command of our Savior. Excellent work is good and God-honoring in and of itself. Jesus didn’t say, “Love your neighbor as yourself…so that you can share the gospel.” “Love your neighbor as yourself” was a complete sentence.
Finally, our work matters because Scripture tells us that some of our work will physically last into the New Jerusalem. We see that clearly in today’s passage as well as its parallel passage in Isaiah 60. As Tim Keller, N.T. Wright, and others have made clear, some of the physical things you and I create in this life (that are made in the Spirit and in-line with the principles of our King) have a chance of being considered “the glory of the nations,” laid at the feet of Jesus on his New Earth.
Those are just three ways in which Scripture makes clear that our work matters beyond using our vocations to share the gospel. Next week, I’ll add another to this list, showing how our work can cause Christians and non-Christians alike to long for the Kingdom.