Working Hard or Heartily Working?

You’ve probably heard the tired phrase, “working hard or hardly working?” or its close associate, “work smarter not harder.” But what about “work heartily as unto the Lord”? All three phrase embody a a different aspect of our being. To work hard is to employ your physical strength to your work, because the work requires you to apply your strength and stamina to a project. It doesn’t take intelligence so much as a willingness to work out the plan and a desire to complete it. All the intelligence is done up front. To work smarter is to work with devices or mechanisms that will make the same output, but with less physical effort, like using a lever instead of simple brute force. Or to make the plan in such a way that minimal physical effort is required.

But what about working heartily? Or working with all your heart? What does the heart have to do with work? Some jobs require so greater heart than you already provide, especially if you are passionate about what you do. My wife is the most passionate person I know when it comes to her work. She will spend long hours at the hospital to make sure her mommas and babies are the happiest and healthiest they can be as they in the process of being born. As a midwife, she found her passion early and has never let it go. I have always admired that about her.

In the same way, when I am preaching or teaching, I have a fire in me that won’t easily let go. I too have a passion for what I do. For these its easy to work heartily. If you have a passion for your work, this one is a no-brainer for you. If you have a passion for it.

And that’s where the problem comes in. If you don’t have a passion for your work, that makes it hard work. If it’s hard physical work to being with, well, “your heart just isn’t in it.” But according to today’s text, that’s not an option for a Christian. For the believer, in everything we do, we heartily, as unto the Lord. It’s not just a job. It’s a witness. It’s not just a task, it’s an opportunity. Only rarely do we work alone. There are always people around to see how we do the things we do. When they see us working cheerily at a task others consider depressing, they will wonder, and they will be curious about the joy we have within us.

It is hard to “keep up appearances” when there’s no joy within. So how do we keep that up? Pray while you work. Praise while you work. Make God a part of your daily grind, and it won’t be so much of a grind. At the risk of sounding “racist”, I might remind you of the teams of planters and harvesters in the Old South, that company of slaves who went to work the fields. If you were to visit the team on that back-breaking effort, you might find them singing, employing the rhythm of their music to assist them in keeping the work. And what would they sing? We call them “spirituals” but you might just as well call them praise. Even in the midst of their slavery, and that is the worst form of work, they praised the Lord. We might learn something from this.

I don’t know what you do to earn bread for your table, but may I encourage you, instead of simply working harder, or smarter, work with all your heart. When your heart is full, the work is not do hard, but it is a blessing to you and others. Remember even in this, God has called you to be His witness to the world.

Dear Father, thank You for the blessing of work. Without it, I can’t imagine what my life would be. Lord help me use my work today to bless others, to be a witness to Your peace in me, Your grace in me, that I may glorify Your holy Name wherever I am. Thank You Jesus for this marvelous salvation. In Your Name I pray, Amen.

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I've been in ministry in the Christian Churches/ Churches of Christ for 20+ years. Finished my doctorate in Biblical Studies in 2015. Serve today as a Hospital Chaplain.

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