Monday, October 18, 2004

New Job

Started my new job today.

The decision to take up this job offer was reached only after long and painful discussions with fellow brothers and sisters and prayer.

The main considerations in deciding to take up any job are:

1. to realise the place of work in the life of the Christian:
  • we have a God who works (Genesis 2:2) and is working even to this day (John 5:16)
  • work is not an evil in itself. It was part of God's good creation right from the beginning when he put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it (Genesis 2:15). It was a consequence of the Fall that everything fell with Adam so that work became painful toil (Genesis 3:17-19)
  • work is the legitimate way to sustain us physically. "If a man will not work, he shall not eat." (2 Thess 3:10). People are to earn the bread they eat (2 Thess 3:12)
  • work keeps people from being idlers and busybodies (2 Thess 3:11). Idleness seems to encourage ungodly behaviour (1 Tim 5:13)
  • working for one's keep legitimises one's ministry in the way that the people to whom you are ministering know that you have no ulterior motive for ministering to them. You want nothing from them (not money, not a good hot meal, or a place to sleep)
  • but we work just to eat. The real food is the food of eternal life. Jesus warns us, "Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you." (John 6:27).
2. to ensure that the work you are required to do in this particular job per se is not ungodly or won't stumble you in any way (eg. prostitution, gambling, even sales and marketing (where you may be pressured to lie to earn your living)(where you may be pressured to lie to earn your living).

3. to ensure that the job allows you time for God because there is no inherent merit in work or working hard.

4. to ensure that the job is in a place/country where there is a good bible-teaching church so that you can be encouraged weekly by faithful teaching and preaching from God's word and where you can have accountable fellowship with brothers and sisters who are travelling in the same direction and won't lead you down the wide and popular road of ungodliness or heretical teaching.

In my case, there were other more lucrative opportunities with well-known organisations abroad with monthly salaries starting at S$10,000. Ego-boosting opportunities with great pay, good hours, in a place with biblical churches and which would look impressive on my CV. Oppotunities which would not, on the surface, affect my godliness adversely.

Why did I take this low-paying local job with little prospects then? For the following reasons:
  1. my responsibilities to my bible study group-not to up and leave without warning and without finding a bible-centred successor whom I'm confident can lead the group in godliness. Even when I find one, it will take time for relationships to form and for people to feel confident enough to be accountable and share with this person.
  2. my responsibilities to the people I'm reading one-to-one with.
  3. my responsibilities to the people I'm counselling.
There was still much discussion about God's sovereignty and human responsibility. The Bible tells us that God is sovereign and whatever humans do, God's will prevails in the end. In Ruth, we see how God works out his great salvation plan in the minute details of human history in the life of one family (Elimelech's) and in the lives of 3 people (Naomi, Ruth and Boaz). Yet, the Bible also tells us that we cannot live our lives fatalistically by sitting back and not doing anything. We will also be held accountable and responsible for our decisions and actions. So while I know that I'm not indispensible in God's plan to save his elect, yet, I must fulfil my responsibilities to them.

Many people shrieked at the wasted opportunity to pursue these other opportunities. Making this decision made me realise again what it means to trust in God. It means to live my life as if all that He has said in the Bible is real. And in light of that reality (that the things of this world are passing away and only the things of God are permanent), to make my decisions and to live for Him alone.


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