Working heartily to the Lord is a demonstration of integrity. One definition of integrity is the state of being whole and undivided. An integrated life is one in which each part is consistent with and complementary to the others. Someone who lives like a Christian on Sunday but like a pagan on the other six days lacks integrity. To work with integrity is to perform one’s duties with care, whether under the watchful gaze of an employer or not. Workers with integrity are more useful because they’re more dependable and self-directed. They work “not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, . . . rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Eph. 6:6–7).
There’s an irony: “people-pleasers,” in the long run, are less pleasing. They do not serve their earthly masters as well. Since they’re working to be noticed, they can’t be fully trusted. That’s a drag on productivity. Working as one kind of person when watched and another when alone, they lack consistency, wholeness, and integrity.
good work supports evangelism
To work with integrity is to “let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven” (Matt. 5:16). It’s to show with our lives what we profess with our mouths (James 1:22; 1 John 3:18). In this manner, good works—both within and beyond our vocations—give evidence of saving faith (James 2:18) and can have the effect of winning an audience among non-Christians.
The vocation of a mother working at home with her children is as legitimate as any other and shines just as much. Strikingly, the Apostle Peter told women married to non-Christians that such men could be “won without a word” by the conduct of their wives (1 Peter 3:1). He doesn’t mean that a wife’s good work can be salvific for her husband. No, “faith comes from hearing, and hearing through the word of Christ” (Rom. 10:17). But a wife’s conduct in this situation can be more effective than her words in making an ungodly husband willing to hear the word of Christ.
Titus 2:9–10 refers to good works as adorning the doctrine of God our Savior. An adornment draws attention to the beauty of something or someone. We can’t make the gospel of free grace any sweeter than it already is. But we can make it appear attractive by the way we live, including our performance in the workplace.
the limitations of our work
Not everyone will glorify God when they see our good works. But our work can silence the mouths of those who say that Christianity makes people lazy, that we are “too heavenly-minded for earthly good.” The quality of our work should remove any basis for such accusations (1 Peter 2:15).
Even for Christians, our work will sometimes be accompanied by a sense of futility or monotony. Difficult colleagues, injustices, messes that must be repeatedly cleaned, and the other frustrations of life in a fallen world will accompany us until death or until the Lord returns. But here, as elsewhere, “in all these things we are more than conquerors through him who loved us” (Rom. 8:37).