116 – Fighting for the Kingdom in Your Work
What is your favorite movie? Ask a group of men and you’ll no doubt hear titles like Braveheart, Lord of the Rings, Star Wars, Gladiator, Ben Hur, We Were Soldiers, and The Bridge on the River Kwai.
What do all these movies have in common? The battle between good and evil. The war for justice. Why do these movies appeal to men? Because deep inside all men know we were created for battle.
Since the Fall the world has been at war. In Genesis 3, the serpent entered the garden and twisted God’s words. Eve and Adam ate the fruit and the war began. In Genesis 3:15, God promises one will crush the serpent’s head. From this point forward, warfare is a pervasive theme in the Bible.
As the people leave their slavery in Egypt, there are giants in the land that must be defeated – Nephilim, Rephaim, Anakim, and the Amorites. The invasion of Canaan was a war of giant killing by the Israelites. The victory over Kings Sihon and Og is referenced over and over again throughout Scripture. Of course if you had defeated someone whose bed was 13½ feet long you’d talk about it too (Deuteronomy 3:11). Even the kings of Israel still have giants to kill. And so David, as the anointed king of God’s people, faces Goliath and wins.
Jesus’ life and death are also described in terms of a battle. Colossians says about Jesus, “having disarmed the powers and authorities, he made a public spectacle of them, triumphing over them by the cross” (Colossians 2:15).
And in Revelation 20 the war comes to a dramatic and final end when the dragon is slain. The serpent’s head is finally crushed for all time.
So, if we are to join God in what He is doing, then we must join the battle.
What is this battle like?
When you think of fighting for the Kingdom, you may think of “spiritual warfare.” Or ou may think of the battle all men fight against temptation and sin. Or perhaps you think of the cultural war of values in America.
Fighting for the Kingdom involves all of these things. But it also encompasses so much more. When we join God in his battle, we are fighting to see Christ’s kingship become a reality on earth. God’s goal is to see the Kingdom of God triumph over the kingdom of darkness.
Our work is one of the best ways we can engage with God to transform the world by the power of the Gospel.
Fighting the battle at work
Satan tempted Eve at the point of her work – tending the garden. Since the Fall, work has been a temptation. Something God meant for good has become a point of failure for many men.
Work can easily become an addiction and an end in itself. Richard works 65 hour weeks and travels 3 weeks each month, but his family lives in a beautiful home and he drives a nice car. Of course he never stops long enough to ask himself if it is really worth it.
For other men, work is something to avoid. They shirk their God-given responsibility and live off the generosity of others. Tom has never held a job more than six months, but he always expects someone to bail him out.
For most men, the temptation is simply to have a low view of work – to work simply for convenience or to receive money. You work because that’s what you have to do to get the money for things you need and want.
But work is meant to be so much more than that.
Working With God
Our work is an opportunity to join God in transforming the world. When you do your work as for God, and not men, you are fighting the battle.
Every time a business helps an employee own a home and have health care – that’s the Kingdom of God advancing. Every time a single mother has her car fixed correctly for a fair price – that’s the Kingdom of God advancing. Every time a company receives the supplies it needs to serve its customers – that’s the Kingdom of God advancing.
God has given you a high calling. Every decision you make, every sale you attempt, every project you complete, all can reflect Christ. And every one is an opportunity to make the world a little more like it should be.
How can you fight the battle at work?
How do we join God in fighting for the kingdom through our work? Here are some key characteristics…
Integrity – Steve works in sales and actually oversees the stocking of his merchandise on store shelves. Often, competitors will sabotage his packaging to keep his products from selling. Should he do the same to them?
Fighting for the Kingdom requires honesty and integrity. Whether it is filling out an expense report, recording billable hours for a client, or setting the price on a repair job, integrity reflects Christ in areas where lying is common.
Excellence – “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” ( Colossians 3:23). Many men only work well enough to get by. As God’s representatives, we ought to do things with such excellence and quality that people see Him.
Kingdom-mindset – There are things even more important than profit and shareholder value. “Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty” (James 5:4). We must fight for justice in our work and do the right thing no matter the short-term consequences.
Faith — Ultimately, fighting for the Kingdom cannot happen in our own strength. God is looking for men who renounce self-reliance and walk by faith. You will face choices and decisions that are beyond your capacity – every choice and decision is beyond your capacity without God’s grace.
You Are at War
You are at war today – a physical, spiritual, emotional, and psychological war. Even if you don’t see it, it is just as real as any other part of your life.
The problem is that most men are AWOL – they are living like they are at peace during a time of war.
Living in denial makes men even more desperate. We have more toys, more pleasures, more experiences; yet nothing seems to satisfy.
Why? Because so many men’s hearts are dying as they give themselves to things that can never satisfy. Their work has lost the primary meaning God intended for it. Instead of a high calling—joining God in a battle to restore and transform the world—work has simply become a way to earn enough money to live a happy and convenient life.
Fighting the Snake?
My son, Ryan, and my dad recently came across a copperhead snake behind his house. Knowing the snake was poisonous, my dad picked up a large stick and hit the snake behind the head, breaking its neck.
There are men in the workplace who are fighting the snake – famous men, like Truett Cathy who runs Chick-fil-A by biblical principles and supports 13 homes for troubled children; men in the trenches like congressmen and school board members–trying to bring biblical principles to bear in the government; anonymous men who put integrity and justice before personal gain; thousands of men who have repented from their workaholism to come home to their families.
You will encounter snakes every day in your work – opportunities, temptations, people and decisions. You can fight the battle by faith as a soldier taking orders, or live a selfish life following your own agenda.
Will you face the battle today? The only thing worse than losing the war is not caring enough to fight.
I can’t help thinking about what would have happened if Adam had picked up a big stick and broken that snake’s neck before he and Eve ate the fruit. Think of all the misery he would have saved.
When that snake comes at work today, will you ignore it and let life pass you by, or will you fight the battle by faith?
1. Do you view your work as fighting with God in his battle? How could that help you have the correct perspective on your work?
2. What are “the snakes” you have faced in the last week? How could you “break their necks” by faith?
David Delk is the President of Man in the Mirror © 2003. Patrick Morley and David Delk. All rights reserved.