Skillful at Work; Useful to God

My mother has not walked in over a year. She has been in a wheelchair, the victim of severe arthritis and a fall that broke her hip. The pain was so persistent and severe she could not sleep at night, and over the last week she told me three times she just wanted to die.

The orthopedic surgeon in Indiana told her there was nothing he could do for her. She would not walk again, and her pain would only get worse.

But on Tuesday, I watched her take her first steps in more than a year, and by Wednesday, the pain-inspired frowns and forced smiles she had worn for the past year had been replaced with a joyful smile, and the ebullient attitude of one who had begun to live again. This transformation happened because an orthopedic surgeon in Houston, Texas was skilled enough to do what many other good orthopedic surgeons could not—perform hip replacement surgery on an 86 year old with a fused, severely arthritic hip.

Ezra returned with a group of Jewish exiles from Babylon to Jerusalem under the imprimatur of Persian king, Artaxerxes, where God would use him to restore the Jewish religion in Judah. While Artaxerxes gave Ezra permission to lead, the Bible makes it clear the Lord was behind it and that He chose Ezra “For Ezra had set his heart to study the law of the Lord, and to practice it, and to teach His statutes and ordinances in Israel.” Ezra 7:9-10. In other words, the Lord chose to work through Ezra because Ezra had developed the skills necessary to make himself useful to God.

The great Reformer, Martin Luther, contended that God works through individuals to meet the needs of others. God met the needs of the shoeless through a cobbler and the hungry through the baker. Luther said that through our work we become the mask of God to others. Others see a doctor, a baker, a pastor, but behind the mask is God healing, providing, and ministering. 

Does God need man? No, He can heal miraculously, and He can drop manna from heaven, but it is indisputable that this is not the norm. Instead, God has chosen ordinarily to work through people.

The implication is inescapable: how well you do your job can determine how useful you are to God. It means what you do for a living is more important spiritually than it is financially. 

“Do you see a man skilled in his work?,” the Bible asks. “He will stand before kings; He will not stand before obscure men.” Proverbs 22:29.

So, become skilled in your job, so you can become more useful to God. GS

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