A Labor Day post at Christianity.com offers “8 Biblical Principles of Work.” The list, by seminary professor James Eckman, is thoughtful and instructive. See it after the jump.
But the list is all about serving oneself or serving God. It leaves out what Luther taught is the major purpose of all vocations: To love and serve one’s neighbors.
I see this so often: Theological reflections about vocation that forget about the neighbor. You really need to include this dimension. Otherwise, work loses its moral significance.
You start thinking about your callings as something for your personal satisfaction (so that if you are not feeling satisfied, you must not really be called, an attitude that can wreck, for example, the vocation of marriage). Or you start thinking about work as a “good work” that you are offering to God, as opposed to His gift and His instrument.
It’s love of neighbor that inspires you to do your best work for your customers. It’s love of neighbor–your family, your fellow workers–that motivates you to work even though you are exhausted. It’s love of neighbor–the good you are doing in the goods or services you are providing–that gives work its satisfaction. And it’s love and service of the neighbor that is the fruit of faith and the way that God desires us to love and serve Him. [Read more…]