Reflections on Exodus 15:22, 16:2-8, 13–15 , Matthew 19:23-20:16, Philippians 1:15-17, 20–28
Sermon "Quality Workmanship"
Growing up, I was told that our family motto was "Do Well, Doubt Not". This was later combined with the Cub Scout's, "Do your Best" and my dad's personal favorite, "Do It, Do it Right, Do it right Now!" Well, best, and right all point to an ethic of workmanship that was expected in everything that I did in school, scouts, family, or life. Quality workmanship, however, requires several key components.
The first component of quality workmanship is learning to follow instruction. Following instruction begins by setting aside an individual agenda and listening. Sometimes the instruction only makes sense after the project is complete. Learning any skill requires a degree of humility and selflessness. This is especially true when we are learning to follow God and not the world. When God was trying to teach the Israelites how to live in the desert, they spent more time complaining than they did listening and following instruction. Once the basic instructions are learned, the disciple is ready for the next component of developing an ethic of quality workmanship.
The difference between a vocation and a job is that a job is for the money and a vocation is a calling that expresses the gifts, talents, and passion of an individual. It takes time to fully develop a vocation and a focus on the craft. The second component of quality workmanship is learning to not worry about how other people may work but rather focus on the quality of the work that you do. The parable of the workers told by Jesus is a parable about people doing a job rather than a vocation. They complain about fair pay rather than the quality of the job they did. In the larger context of the gospel, Jesus was moving the disciples away from viewing following Jesus as learning a new job as rabbis but rather as a vocation in the kingdom of God. As a vocation, the disciples shouldn't be focused on if the rich get into heaven or what place they will have in the throne room. Instead, they should be focused on how to give their utmost for His highest. Quality workmanship comes from viewing the task not as a job which is measured by pay but as a vocation in which a well done task is the reward.
This feeling of reward leads to the last component of quality workmanship. A completed project should positively reflect upon the person who did the work. Was it the best the person could do? Was it worthy of the person's skills and talents? Is it a work of quality or convenience? Paul tells us to live a life worthy of Christ. If we are bought with his blood and covered by his grace, do our actions reflect the glory of God and the goodness of His kingdom? Following God means living a life in pursuit of quality workmanship because we are ultimately working for God. Half measures and complaints about others does not reflect our profession that Jesus is our Lord and Savior. If Jesus is our Lord, then why do we act as if he is on holiday? If Jesus is our Savior, then why do we act like every political and economic issue is going to mean the end of our life? If we are one in the Body of Christ, then why do we act like malignant cancer attacking the other parts of the body? Our life in Christ is our ultimate project and we have to ask ourselves if we are committed to quality workmanship or do we accept the poor workmanship of the world we live in. Are you living a life worthy of Christ - worthy of all the Master has done for you?