Who then is the faithful and wise servant, whom the master has put in charge of the servants in his household to give them their food at the proper time? It will be good for that servant whose master finds him doing so when he returns.
As I read this passage on a Sunday morning, I thanked God for the privilege of being able to continue preaching and feeding His people. Even though the doors of churches remain closed, thankfully we can still broadcast services online and continue preaching God’s Word.
The risen Christ, in commissioning Peter to Spirit-filled ministry, commanded him to feed His sheep (John 21:17). The apostle Paul, on his part, was clear about his calling when he wrote, “I was appointed a herald and an apostle and a teacher” (2 Timothy 1:11). Whether he was free to travel as an itinerant preacher or imprisoned for his faith, he was still able to continue to preach about the kingdom of God and teach about the Lord Jesus Christ (Acts 28:31).
Those of us who have been called to preach the gospel are thankful to God that, whether we live in a lockdown period or not, we can continue to do what the Lord has called us to do—all by His enabling grace and sovereign will.
Martin Luther’s Teaching on Christian Vocation
But what about those who are not pastors, preachers, or Bible teachers? Does Matthew 24:45–46 apply to them as well? Does what they do count as work for the Lord?
In the 16th century, the popular notion was that God’s work was done only within monasteries and churches. The reformer Martin Luther—an Augustinian monk who was converted to real faith and was used by God to reform and revive the church—however introduced a radical concept.
He wrote: “The idea that the service to God should have only to do with a church altar, singing, reading, sacrifice, and the like is without doubt but the worst trick of the devil. How could the devil have led us more effectively astray than by the narrow conception that service to God takes place only in a church and by the works done therein . . . The whole world could abound with the services to the Lord—not only in churches but also in the home, kitchen, workshop, field.”
Luther’s great contribution was to bring everyone under the concept of vocation as a sense of God’s calling, no matter where we work and serve. He extended the reality of vocation to farmers, cobblers, blacksmiths, and others.
A Homemaker Is a Servant of God
So, take a homemaker, for example. She serves the members of her family. What she does is as equally important as that of a preacher in his pulpit. She can apply Matthew 24:45–46 to what she faithfully does at home. In fact, in this current stay-at-home situation during Covid-19, her responsibilities have become heavier.
With the whole family staying at home the entire day instead of going to work or school, she must think about the meals that they all need. The phrase, “to give them food at their proper time” (v. 45), becomes as real as it can get. She too is doing the work of God. She too can thank God for the privilege of serving God in the way she does.
Essential Services and Brave Workers
During this lockdown, there are many who are still working to ensure our safety and wellbeing. Doctors, nurses, and other medical staff face risks as they serve at the frontlines attending to patients. Transport workers and food providers and deliverers ensure that our transport services and food supply chains continue without disruption, as do those who collect our garbage daily and ensure that our environment remains clean.
We can see how important these people’s vocations are to us. They are out there serving the community and helping people to remain as well as they can be.
Working from Home
But what about those who are now confined to working at home, or those whose work results may seem unclear and invisible? Can they also claim that they are doing God’s work?
Scripture tells us that whatever we are called to do, if we do it with commitment to God and all sincerity, then we are doing the work of God. Colossians 3:23–24 says: “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
Such believers will not do “eye-service”—working only when watched by the boss (see Ephesians 6:6 KJV). Instead, they will work with a sense that God is the “audience of one”, knowing that ultimately, it is God who calls them to serve Him and it is to Him whom they are accountable.
Can we still serve God the same way when we work from home on our laptops?
After all, it is possible that without face-to-face encounters, our work can become impersonal. We may become efficient without having empathy. Our focus may be on competence without compassion. The modern workplace, especially with the lockdown measures, has become increasingly digital. We work through cyberspace and are being transformed into digital workers.
Discovering Digital Ministry
Besides referring to numbers like 0 and 1, on which computer systems are based, the term “digit” also refers to our fingers and toes.
As we type away on our keyboards and do our work, as we use our fingers to tap out our messages and do our calculations or prepare presentations and papers, we are reminded of another kind of “digital ministry”—that which was done by the Lord Jesus.
Jesus used His fingers to touch and heal lepers (Matthew 8:3), the blind (Mark 8:23–25), and the sick (Mark 1:31; Luke 13:13); raise the dead (Mark 5:41), and take bread and break it to distribute to the hungry (John 6:11). He used His fingers to write prophetic words in the dust to bring conviction to sinners (John 8:6). He placed His hands on children who were brought to Him and blessed them (Matthew 19:15). He used His hands to prepare breakfast and serve His disciples (John 21:12–13).
Is it not possible that even as you work digitally, that you can also imitate Jesus by allowing your digitalised words to bring encouragement, comfort, and hope? You may not be able to personally meet people who are troubled or anxious, or who don’t know what they can do to get out of their troubles. You may not be there in person to speak to them or help them. But you can use your digital words as you type your responses to enquiries—to console with your words, and thus humanise others.
Serving God at All Times
Whether you are working in the office, factory, school, hospital, shop, or at home, you can still serve God. The key is to have the attitudes of service and humility, and to know that whatever we do and wherever we are working, we are called to serve God for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Our vocation in Christ remains intact whether we are in lockdown mode or not, and as Paul reminds us, what we do in serving Christ, whether working from home or in our normal places of work, is not in vain, as we give ourselves fully to the work of the Lord (1 Corinthians 15:58).