“And everyone who has left houses or brothers or sisters or father or mother or children or lands, for my name’s sake, will receive a hundredfold and will inherit eternal life. But many who are first will be last, and the last first.”(Matthew 19:29-30 ESV)
Put yourself at the site of Jesus’ crucifixion. Imagine asking, “Wouldn’t Jesus be the king that would restore, or establish, Israel as a world power?” “Didn’t he tell of the coming kingdom of heaven?” Before this day, many Jews expected God’s kingdom to reign and end Roman rule any day. But in a matter of hours, they arrested, convicted and killed the King of the Jews.
Jesus’ death must have dumbfounded many. Days earlier people laid palm branches and praised him. Then the Jewish leaders arrested him, tried him illegally, and treated him worse than a common criminal. Then the Romans and the Jews together ridiculed him, beat him, and killed him.
If I lived that day, I think my energy and national pride had a chance. When the Roman soldiers buried Jesus, they also buried the hope of many Jews. Even though Jesus tried to tell them, no one dreamed what would happen next.
On Sunday, everything changed. I like to imagine walking to Emmaus (Luke 24:13-35) that day. Imagine having Jesus explain the prophecies that pointed to him from Scripture. After Pentecost, the Holy Spirit indwells and transforms Christ’s followers and they begin their eternal life. We can live our eternal life every workday of every week. But do we? Can your coworkers explain your life?
No one could explain the resurrection. And it’s hard to explain a life Jesus changes. When we live a genuine, authentic, transformed life God mixes our life with our coworker’s experiences to make himself visible.
When a Christ-follower gives away their life, that’s unexplainable. When I first started my career, business was all about climbing your way to the top. Terms like “dog-eat-dog” and “corporate ladder” were in fashion. While business became more civil over the years, we still project negative motives on people we don’t know. We assume most people are “in it for themselves.” We have an expected level of civility for business interactions. Operate beneath that level and we think you’re a jerk. Be more civil, more graceful, more giving and we wonder what you’re up to.
When a Jesus-follower exceeds norms for generosity with our time (not our boss’ time), our energy, money, career, attention, or gratitude, others might notice. If we try to make them notice, we have our reward (Matthew 6:1-6). But a humble, generous, graceful life is unexplainable. If we give our loaves and fish, or if we give grace and generosity beyond our job expectations, we join Jesus as he makes himself visible.
God gives you life as you give your life away. In the civilized American work world, we rarely suffer, but we could get ostracized or passed up for promotions. Even if we receive harsh treatment, we know God causes good from all things (Romans 8:28). Whatever we give away, Jesus says we will receive a hundred times as much and eternal life. As we give, we join Jesus, in His kingdom now and forever and we receive a huge reward.
If we serve others with an ulterior motive, people will sniff it out. We each have sincerity radar. We can sense when someone fakes sincerity, empathy and compassion. But if you give your stuff and your life away simply because Jesus saved us to, over time your coworkers’ explanations won’t fit. Then they must search for a different explanation.
Begin your new, eternal, unexplainable life with prayer. Tell Jesus, “Here I am” each morning. Ask him to use you in the lives of everyone you meet. Jesus may challenge you to write notes to people or to give away small gift cards. He may challenge you to remember the names of your coworker’s family members. The Holy Spirit may challenge you to work late or come in early to help others. You may need to get ahead in your job so others can interrupt you without affecting your overall performance.
Whatever you do, give your company a great effort, and give even more to the people you interact with most. Use your personal time and resources to bring favor to the people you interact with every day. Your unexplainable life will cause people to question and God will their curiosity to accomplish his purposes.
Written by Mike Henry Sr. for Community Spirit Magazine.
Image by: Huseyin Bostanci for Getty Images Pro