In The World But Not Of The World

Day 3 of 7 • This day’s reading


Son vs Servant

For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by Him we cry, “Abba, Father”. The Spirit Himself testifies with our spirit that we are God's children. - Rom 8:15, 16

We are sons and daughters of God. But we often choose to work as slaves to our earthly employers. It is a far greater joy to work as a son, as an heir. But we end up being enslaved to our earthly masters. Why is that?

The answer lies in what Tim Keller, the founding pastor of New York's Redeemer Presbyterian Church, calls ‘functional justification’. As Christians, we believe that we are justified before God by the finished work of Christ on the cross. But when it comes to our daily worklife, we behave as if we are justified by our work.

We are on a high after a great day at work, but we are utterly depressed when we have a bad day in the office. Almost all our prayers are about succeeding in our work and avoiding failure. We are elated when our good work is recognised and miserable when it is not. All these are signs that we have made our work our identity, that we are attaching great significance to it. Our work becomes our ‘functional justification’.

In our everyday worklife, we end up seeking our justification from what we do and not what He has done. When we do that we become enslaved to our work because we have made it our God. Though we don't lose our sonship, we simply stop behaving like a son and start working like a servant.

A servant works because he has to earn his living, he has to prove himself, and he has no choice. To a servant, work is a dull grind. A son, on the other hand, has just one motive − he works to extend his father's kingdom.

We can make the transition in our behavior from servant to son, if we dwell daily in the Gospel, in the finished work of the only perfect Son Who came to serve and not to be served. The Son became a servant, so that we who are enslaved can be freed and adopted into sonship.

Father God, help me to work with joy, as a son keen to extend his Father’s kingdom, and not as a servant who is merely doing his duty. Amen