In Isaiah 59, the LORD is proclaiming judgment on Israel for their wickedness. They have defiled the standards of God, the people are heaving up injustices, and even the priests who represent God to the people have been carried away into voluntary, continued sin.
The LORD says here to Israel,
“Behold, the LORD’s hand is not shortened, that it cannot save, or his ear dull, that it cannot hear; but your iniquities have made a separation between you and your God, and your sins have hidden his face from you so that he does not hear.” (Isaiah 59:1-2).
Sin separates us from God. Therefore, we as Christians must be diligent to both hate & eradicate sin in our lives because we don’t want to be cut off from the fullness of God in our lives.
Workism is one such sin. It is a form of idolatry that promotes self-worship and worship of our work. This is a 21st century reproduction of an ancient sin that has existed since Adam & Eve were in the garden.
What can we do today to bring awareness to the influence of workism, eradicate it, and prevent it from coming back in our lives today?
Idolatry is like a weed in the garden, and it always has been.
Pride & Workism
If we examine Scripture, we can find that pride often has a close relationship to idolatry. Idolatry is worship of anything else in place of God or above God, but pride itself is something more widely applicable.
Pride states that “I would be better than ___”, “I’m too good for ____”, or even “I know better than ___”. Often, we insert God’s name into this category without even realizing it.
Ever wrestled with God’s plan for your life? Ever been uncomfortable with His timing? Ever thought, “I would have done it this way…”?
Well, you’re staring down the right alley with that one. That’s our humanistic pride, as a result of the fall and a continued presentation of the flesh, that speaks into our lives that way. Many times, we not only listen, but we obey it in our actions.
Workism is one way we do so. We, even as Christians, can say, “I trust my paycheck more than I trust God”.
Or, even more foundational, we forsake our identity in Christ for an ascribed identity based on our role at work or our title on the parking space. Workism at work, idolatry at work, and even pride at work.
Workism is one way that our flesh, and the devil, can infiltrate our sphere of influence by striking our identity and subverting our faith from God to our circumstances. Workism gets us to chase after the world, while forsaking the truth of who we are and who’s we are.
Surrender & Workism
One effective way to combat pride is humility – the godly counterattack. James quotes this concept by noting that, “God opposes the proud but gives grace to the humble.” (James 4:6). He goes on to exhort us, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will exalt you.” (4:10).
That’s great! Great news, James. But how do I do that?
I’m glad you asked.
Workism drives us on a fuel of pride, a vehicle of idolatry, and a goal of separation from God. Yet, we can empty the tank of workism quite simply when we surrender ourselves to the Lord.
Yes, I’m suuuuure you’ve done that. I’m sure. But I mean like actually surrender. Like… Let it go. And stop picking it back up.
That means when we understand the Lord is our provider, we act like it.
Workism puts our focus on making it all happen ourselves, but to experience true freedom, we must accept [and live out the truth] that God is our provider, sustainer, and finisher. Workism is not a sustainable practice because it pits us against God’s created order.
Surrender allows us to give up our control, letting go of our self-created identity and outcomes, and taking up God’s best in its place. Surrender puts us in a place of humility, allowing us to receive God’s grace.
When we stand firmly against surrender, holding fast to our own methods & control, we sacrifice grace for man-made religion, and we know that doesn’t work.
Workism is a man-made religion, one that will burn us out every time. We cannot find hope, peace, or value in workism; we will always be left dryer than when we started.
Allowing ourselves to relax for a change, even placing an emphasis on the Sabbath rest, will give us an opportunity to surrender, and in that surrender, we can find humility to serve God and let Him be the author & perfecter of our lives.
Back in Isaiah, God speaks some pretty cool things about the Sabbath. He spoke,
“If you turn back your foot from the Sabbath, from doing your pleasure on my holy day, and call the Sabbath a delight and the holy day of the LORD honorable; if you honor it, not going your own ways, or seeking your own pleasure, or talking idly; then you shall take delight in the LORD, and I will make you ride on the heights of the earth; I will feed you with the heritage of Jacob your father, for the mouth of the LORD has spoken.” (Isaiah 58:13-14).
The LORD desires that we take these moments to rest – to absorb His gift of rest and then rest in Him. In doing so, He promises us even more blessing! One of those blessings being that He will cause us to delight in Him when we practice this honoring Sabbath rest. Heck yeah.
When we delight in the Lord, we find no pull towards workism. In our delight, in our rest, we can be filled with peace & confidence, knowing who we are and who’s we are. This knowledge of our identity gives us power over sin, workism, and idolatry because we no longer seek to override God, but to serve Him instead.
This place of surrender offers us humility, giving us more grace from God, and empowering us to live out His will & purpose for our lives in the workplace, negating the negative effects of workism in our lives.
Jesus said in the New Testament that, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath.” (Mark 2:27). Even Jesus noted that God created this gift for us. He wants us to use it because He knows that its powerful! And He wants us to be blessed. He gives good gifts to His children (Matthew 7:11, James 1:17).
Workism pulls us from rest, pulls us from the Sabbath, and keeps us constantly moving towards a goal that continues to elude us. Like chasing the carrot on a string, workism keeps us chasing an empty outcome.
God calls us to rest, and that rest is one way to take back the ground we can lose to workism. And when we rest, God will open up a lot more to us, allowing us to receive His grace more fully and empowering us to walk out His calling for our lives every day.