Google "work" in any New Testament version and you'll discover the rugged discipline normative of the Christian life. The most prevalent word, "ergon" is translated "work" in as many as 158 verses. Several other derivatives (energeo, sunergeo, katergozomai) from the "ergon" root appear an additional 46 times. So, get real about the idea of work in the New Testament. Doing church, being church, making disciples of all nations, taking up our crosses to follow Christ, being light in the darkness, telling the old, old story, and volumes more depict this life as one requiring time, toil, and labor. So, let's get away from playground image of Christianity and remember that our calling is to love him with all of our hearts, minds, and strengths. This life is not tea party.
Then, there are the blessings of our life in Christ, his wonderful promises. According to the people at www.biblegateway.com there are 5,467 of them. Click here if you'd like a closer look at their work on this topic. These promises are the blessings of our life in Christ, extending throughout our life on earth and into eternity. They are incredible in their scope and are assured in a basic foundational truth that God cannot lie (see Titus 1: 2; Hebrews 6:18; 2 Corinthians 1:20). When my poor, weak mind can't comprehend the measure of his blessings the Apostle Paul's words to the Ephesian believers gives me a broader view---
Now to him who is able to do immeasurably more than all we ask or imagine, according
to his power that is at work within us, to him be glory in the church and in Christ Jesus
throughout all generations, for ever and ever! Amen.
Ephesians 3: 20-21, NIV
So, the question of the day is, how can the immeasurable blessings of this work become drudgery? What about life's realities can reduce my service to Christ to tedium, boredom, and the same ol', same ol?
Well, I don't have a research department and these points are just biblical truth uncovered in the personal spiritual inventories experienced in 38 years of pastoral leadership. Yes, there were times when this calling became perfunctory and routine. Inventory truth revealed that the blessings of life in Christ can be overshadowed by drudgery---
1. When we emphasize works as a path to God's favor.
Our service should always be a result of his love and blessings and not as means of
earning his favor. The Apostle Paul reminded us of the tension between grace and
For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the
gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast.
Ephesians 2: 8-9, ESV
2. When we desire the approval of men more than the approval of God.
Let's be careful here. Pleasing others is a significant human need. Just the same, it
can place us on a treadmill of accomplishment that can quickly become drudgery.
Our purpose in Christian service should be to please God and not pastors, church
staff, people in leadership, congregation members, or family. Remember---
For am I now seeking the approval of man, or of God? Or am I trying to please man? If I
were still trying to please man, I would not be a servant of Christ. Galatians 1: 10, ESV
3. When our devotional life is overcome by busyness.
Time spent in church commitments can easily eclipse our personal private time with
God. Remember Paul's counsel to the believers at Ephesus---
Be very careful, then, how you live—not as unwise but as wise, making the most of every
opportunity, because the days are evil. Therefore do not be foolish, but understand what
the Lord’s will is. Do not get drunk on wine, which leads to debauchery. Instead, be filled
with the Spirit.
Ephesians 5: 15-18, ESV
4. When mission is lost.
Church activity and ministry should be gauged by Christ's mission for his church.
The Apostle Paul warned Timothy about the possibility that mission could be
eclipsed by our own passions for acceptance, busyness. and more personal
concerns. He wrote---
For the time is coming when people will not endure sound teaching, but having itching
ears they will accumulate for themselves teachers to suit their own passions, and will
turn away from listening to the truth and wander off into myths. As for you, always be
sober-minded, endure suffering, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry.
2 Timothy 4: 3-5, ESV
5. When other life commitments are seconded to the to-do list.
There are many life commitments and responsibilities that become secondary, or
worse, when church busyness occupies our attention. Over the years one of the
most glaring of these is our biblical responsibility to family and others. Again, Paul's
word to Timothy seem appropriate here.
But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his
household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
1 Timothy 5: 8, ESV
These and other hindrances are often the truth of personal spiritual inventory. Being aware of them may give us the insight to rediscover the joys of serving Christ.