Work: A Blessing or Curse? ~ Mystery of Providence (By John Flavel)

Together we have been reading through The Mystery of Providence written by Puritan John Flavel. You can read more about the project here.

Insightful and practical, John Flavel’s compels us to look at the things we take for granted and instead, consider the work of God in them. The same is true throughout the next chapter, God’s Providence in Our Work. How easy it is to look at the job we have and embrace a sense of entitlement. Instead, Flavel reminds us that God has worked to orchestrate for us a career, noting the following points:
  1. By directing the calling in youth: Instead of allowing one to live a useless, idle, and sinful life, he orchestrates the career of His people in a young age so that they may engage in one that is fitting for them.
  2. Into a trade that is not sinful and is suitable for a person: Being inconsistent with sin, those who are in Him must exist apart from sin, which means their career path must also. God proposes a plan for individuals’ lives so that directs them away from any sinful career.
  3. Beyond the projection of children or their parents: A career path chosen by God is nothing less than phenomenal. It results in something far greater than any person could envision.
  4. In securing one’s estate from ruin: It is this employment that one has that keeps them from financial ruin and enables them to maintain a standard of living. This too should not be taken for granted.
  5. In making a calling sufficient: Flavel points out two interesting points that we fail to recognize. The calling we are engaged in is suited for us. God could have called us to something different, and thus would be something more difficult and less enjoyable. As such, the calling that is tailored to us individually is more efficient with our time and preserves our health.
How wonderful it is to think about the impact even a God-ordained career path has on one’s life! As such, Flavel writes of four points that must be remembered:
  • Do not be slothful or idle
  • Do not be so intent on it that you neglect your general calling
  • Do not forget that success is a divine blessing (not just human diligence)
  • Do not fail to be satisfied with your station
If employment is viewed as a blessing from God, even in the slightest of details, it transforms one’s mindset in which work becomes not simply a part of one’s existence, but it becomes a way to glorify God and the four points of application become a natural part of the job one is engaged in.
In Mystery of Providence, Flavel has a gift of identifying some of the most simplistic thins and magnifying them in a way that makes them a challenging reminder of just how much God has done for His people. It is the same here in this chapter. The areas that we often take for granted are the very areas that need to be glimpsed as an offering from God for the sake of building His people and glorifying Himself. Employment then becomes not a mere duty, but an opportunity for worship.

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