Why productivity is important in our faith walk with Christ

Don’t be so quick to separate the two.

Morgan Clarke, Staff Writer

There are a lot of things I seem to brush off as not important to my faith walk with God. One of the biggest things I fail to acknowledge is productivity. I always thought productivity was helpful, but not spiritual. Being productive has always been something I’ve striven for. However, I never considered the spiritual implications it held. I never stopped to consider that, when we strive for productivity and shy away from idleness, we become more selfless and less entitled.

When we remain idle in the face of all of our responsibilities and duties, we begin to feel entitled to God’s grace. We begin to confuse faith with entitlement. Our faith in Jesus does not mean we deserve His many blessings, rather, it is His will. He will bless us because of our faith in Him. When we decide to be productive, we decide to work to the best of our abilities, knowing that God blessed us with those gifts. We then have faith that while we try our best, God ultimately brings us through by His grace. It is not about reaching a goal through our own capabilities, but about using our God-given abilities to glorify Him. Idleness does not glorify God, and glorifying God is our ultimate goal.

Years ago, I was at church listening to a guest speaker. His entire sermon was about how laziness was sinful, and I just remember thinking that this man must have never picked up the Bible a day in his life. That thought was totally arrogant, but the speaker also did not provide any biblical support for his argument. To someone who never thought twice about the spiritual dangers of laziness, he seemed to be spewing nonsense.

Recently, however, I have had the opportunity to take theology courses that have helped me dive deeper into scripture. While studying 2 Thessalonians, I came across this verse: “In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers and sisters, to keep away from every believer who is idle and disruptive and does not live according to the teaching you received from us” ( 2 Thess 3:6 NIV). I decided to look closer to fully grasp what Paul was trying to say.

In this letter to the Thessalonians, Paul shares an example of his hard work when he was in Thessalonica. In verses seven through nine, he explains how, while in Thessalonica, he worked for his own food and money so he did not have to burden the believers in the church there by forcing them to provide for his needs. He emphasizes that he did not work hard for praise or reward, but rather for the sake of being a Christ-like example for the Thessalonians to imitate. Paul did not go to Thessalonica expecting to let go of his own responsibilities because he was doing God’s work.

Christian ideals of faith can sometimes perpetuate the idea that we will receive benefits unearned, leading us to live in a continuous cycle of laziness. We feel like we don’t have to do anything because God will do it for us. Rather than laziness, a better word would be entitlement. We feel entitled to God’s many blessings, so much so that we think we don’t have to work for them. I would argue that productivity is a crucial aspect of our Christian faith. Without the drive, how do we pick up the Bible? How do we sit down to pray? What prompts us to be intentional so our actions reflect Christ? This idleness leads us to rely on the myth that God will do whatever we want Him to do, as long as we have “faith.” This distorted version of faith is an excuse to be worldly. The idea persists that we can do whatever we want, including nothing at all, and it will all be okay because Jesus will handle it. We will inevitably be let down if we believe this because God’s will is not always our victory.

I do not say all of this to shame people into being productive. I am not a very productive person myself. However, through a new biblical lens, I have been able to see the times where I have made decisions to be irresponsible and then thought I could completely rely on God to pick up the pieces. It has happened countless times with exams. I barely study, but I pray and say I have faith. Then, I am gravely disappointed with the unsatisfactory outcome. I have felt entitled to a reward because I prayed and “had faith,” without any hard work. This type of “faith” is a distorted illusion that leads to idleness. A sort of faith that thinks that God will reward me, rather than faith that, no matter the outcome, it is God’s will. When we find ourselves in these seasons of idleness, it is important to ask ourselves if we are practicing true faith or distorted faith. Once we get to the bottom of that question, we can begin to live a more productive lifestyle.

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Opinions expressed in letters and other editorials, unless otherwise stated, are those of the writers and not of The Horizon staff or the college collectively.

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