Shift in Burden
Work can be hard because of the stress that comes from the demands of other people. Others seem to put unfair burdens on us, whether those burdens are unrealistic expectations, crazy deadlines, long hours, or last-minute problems that need to be fixed. Work would be joyful, we think, if we never needed to work with others! At the same time, we may try to delegate out our least favorite tasks, and wonder why the people around us seem burdened.
Coworkers in the early Christian Church went through a similar struggle to determine which burdens they should share and which were unfair. The Judaizers were a segment of early Christians who were not about to cut anyone slack, least of all the Gentiles. They expected Gentiles who came to faith in Christ to be circumcised, just as they were. They even stated it as a condition of salvation.
But Paul understood that God did not want to place any such burden on the Gentiles. In fact, God gave the Gentiles the Holy Spirit as a result of their faith, not due to any outward sign or ritual. Paul appealed to the Jewish leaders to remove this unfair burden from the Gentile converts. In the end, the Jews came to a new understanding of fairness – there was no requirement that everyone had to be the same to work for God.
Bringing our faith into our work requires looking critically at the burdens we take on and the burdens we put on others. Rather than comparing our workload with someone else’s, we can acknowledge their unique contributions to the team and how we can support them. We can bear the burdens of other people and still have a fair workplace environment. The key is to start by seeking God’s perspective on His definition of fair.
Are there burdens you are unnecessarily putting on others? Ask God how you can serve others at work with trust that your needs will also be met.
Father, thank you that you have lifted the burden of sin through Jesus. Help us to remember the freedom you have so graciously given, and recognize opportunities to share that freedom with others. Show us where we can help ease the burdens of coworkers and be Christ for them at work. In Jesus’ name. Amen.
Read more about Humble Service from Theology of Work.