At Work & Theology 101

Goodness in the Workplace

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Ecclesiastes 3 begins by saying, “For everything there is a season, and a time for every matter under heaven” (Eccles. 3:1, ESV). Every day is an opportunity to demonstrate the goodness of God to our colleagues, but the new year provides a great opportunity to refocus our efforts on sharing the goodness of God with our coworkers.  

We are in the middle of a series on the application of the fruit of the Spirit in the workplace, and this installment focuses on goodness. In the fifth chapter of his letter to the churches in Galatia, the Apostle Paul writes, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness…” As we seek to demonstrate the goodness of God, we must recognize this begins by faithfully seeking the Spirit’s leading in our daily lives. Goodness is a result of the Spirit’s work in our lives, and as we submit our will to the will of the Spirit, the goodness of God will be the result.  

As we discussed previously, “good” does not mean “less than great.” In this context, good is a qualitative characteristic describing the nature and motive of God. The Spirit seeks to demonstrate goodness through our lives and through our work, and I think we could all agree we need more goodness in our workplaces. For the sake of this discussion, the goodness of God is defined as “the nature of God displayed through good works.” 

For example, when we read the creation narrative in Genesis 1-2, we see the goodness of God demonstrated through his works of creation, which he described as “good.” God is good, and he demonstrates his goodness by creating good things. The beauty and inherent goodness of creation in Genesis 1-2 is a declaration to the universe of God’s goodness. 

Saved for Works, Not By Them

Any time we discuss good works, we must clarify we are not promoting a works-based righteousness. There is no righteousness in ourselves except that which we receive by grace through faith in Jesus Christ. We are not saved because of our good works, but we are saved for good works. In his letter to the church in Ephesus, Paul writes, “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. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them” (Eph. 2:8-10).  

Notice Paul says we are God’s workmanship, which means God has done a good work in our lives through the redeeming work of Christ. It is God’s grace, received through faith in Christ and in his redeeming work, that provides salvation. Paul continues by stating that we are “created in Christ Jesus for good works.” This means the action of a person who has surrendered their life to Christ and who is following the leading of the Spirit should be good works that glorify God.  

New Year, New Opportunities to Do Good

As we start a new year, let’s ask ourselves, “Are we demonstrating the goodness of God at work? What good works are we exemplifying to our colleagues? When our colleagues examine our lives, do they see the nature of God on display through our good works?” The new year is a great time to reassess our spiritual productivity at work. We often focus on earthly productivity at work, but we also should assess our eternal productivity. This begins with prayer for our coworkers. If we want to see our colleagues experience the power and grace of God in their lives, we must fertilize the soil with prayer. As we pray, let’s ask the Spirit to open our eyes for new opportunities to share the goodness of God at work.  

In his book, Joy for the World, Greg Forster writes, “For our purposes, it will be good enough to say that work is everything we do to serve people and make the world a better place.” Ultimately, our work is not about us, but it is for demonstrating the glory and goodness of God to a world in desperate need. Work is about serving those with whom we work and those for whom we work. We might say that work is about sharing God’s good works with our colleagues and customers. Forster goes on to write, “The image of God is the source of our dignity. So because we do in fact have the image and the dignity, work ought to follow.” Because we are God’s workmanship and because we are created in his image, the goodness of God should be a natural product we produce at work.

As we start the new year, what good works can we do to serve our colleagues and our customers? Is there one person at work with whom we are having conflict? If so, how can we show them good works so they can experience the goodness of God? They may not deserve the goodness of God, but lest we forget, neither do we. The goodness of God is a grace that is gifted to us, so let’s be good stewards of that gift by sharing it at work in the new year.  

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