Sunday 27 May 2012

Should Christians stay away from certain professions?

He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful (good) with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
Ephesians 4:28

Paul doesn’t simply say to the thief, “Stop stealing!” I mean, he does  - “He must steal no longer,” says Paul, but that’s not all he says. He calls on the Christian to do honest work - even, hard word (“with his own hands”) - in order to be in the position to bless others (“those in need”).

Now in a couple of months, graduating students will be sending out their CV’s in search for work and employment, and some will ask the question: Which ones are off-limits? Are there jobs which Christians should stay away from?

Well, yes. Don’t steal. That’s obvious enough from this verse. Use your common sense and your conscience when considering that job advert: Is it wrong? Not simply whether it is illegal, but is the work that is involved in that profession sinful or unwise? A good article that helps us think through this issue can be read online here:

And yet, I wonder if most of us think this question as irrelevant because we hold a respectable job. Because we work for a big-name corporation, in a nice office and we dress up every morning for work in a suit. Because our professions are respectable - doctor, programmer, financial adviser, lawyer, researcher - we think our respectability means this verse doesn’t apply to us. Because we have been sponsored by a government agency in Singapore and have no choice but to become a paper-pushing civil servant, we think, “This verse is not talking about me. It’s for the thieves. It’s for unscrupulous businessmen who cheat their customers of their hard-earned savings. It’s for those who work in casinos, bars and pyramid-schemes.” If that’s what we think, we’ve missed the purpose of God’s work for our lives.

Paul is saying your work is given you to serve and bless others. He starts with the thief, yes, but his point is radical transformation. The converted thief no longer exploits others to serve himself, he now does everything he can; uses everything he has; to serve those in need. It is talking about repentance: turning away from selfishness in sin to face God and being willing to be used by God to serve his people.

Meaning all the more - to the doctor, lawyer, financial officer, computer programmer; to the full-time pastor - are you serving others at the expense of yourself? Your work is given you not for your personal status nor your image of respectability. Use your profession to glorify God. Work hard with your hands, meaning put your back into it. Look out for those in need so as to be able to serve them and to bless them - not just out of your abundance, not simply out of excess - but with all that God has entrusted you with.

Even your work.

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