Earthly Good

Heavenly Minded Earthly Good

The crowds asked, “What should we do?” (Luke 3:10)

Read: Numbers 26:52-28:15, Luke 3:1-22, Psalm 61:1-8, Proverbs 11:16-17

Relate: A while back I was eating at in a restaurant when from the booth behind me I overheard snippets of a conversation that caught my interest. Two guys who worked at the same place were sitting there talking about a third co-worker. That third guy was apparently a Christian. One of the two men said, “He’s practically a saint.” The other one replied, “I don’t want a saint. I want a good employee.” The conversation moved on but my mind rolled around that last statement. Since when did a good Christian not automatically equate with a good employee? Unfortunately, I’ve met a few examples that fit the bill. Even worse, I’ve been that example a few times in my past. I have heard the saying before, “He is so heavenly minded that he’s no earthly good.” Although this phrase wasn’t used by my dining neighbors, it was exactly the concept they were referring to. I wonder if in my bad examples of being a Christian employee this phrase has ever been used about me?

The good news is that there are also examples of heavenly minded people who have done immense earthly good. DL Moody founded schools and was influential in starting up the YMCA. John Wesley was largely influential in abolition and prison reform movements and his “methodism” was accused of being works-righteousness by critics. Billy Graham was won over to the civil rights movement early and did a joint crusade with Martin Luther King Jr. He also later posted King’s bail after Birmingham. Jonathan Edwards is considered one of the greatest minds in American history, he invested heavily in social work among Native Americans and was famous for always opening his home to anyone in need.

React: I could go on and on. You can pick practically any great man or woman of God in history and it can be shown how their work was not just what we would consider “sacred”. It was also loaded with practical “secular” application as well. That is because everything is sacred. Let me say that again. Everything is sacred. The separation of church and state is good for politics and governance but should never be confused with the separation of church from society. John the Baptist came on the scene preaching a very spiritual message and seeking to accomplish a very spiritual task, but those responding to his message found very practical application. “Share with those in need, be honest at your workplace, don’t abuse your power, or grumble against those in authority.” These are very down to earth responses that this religious “nut” out in the desert seems to be giving.

So how does my faith get reflected in my work? Does my work ethic make my boss want to hire other Christians as well? Are my coworkers glad I’m on the job? Does my work habits and attitude give me a platform so that when I share my faith others are willing to listen? Being heavenly minded means I should be earthly good. Others should look at my spending habits and say, “Christians are generous.” They should watch my attitude and say, “Christians are caring.” They should listen to me speak and say, “Christians are encouraging.” They should examine my lifestyle and say, “Christians are loving.” If little by little, day by day, more and more this is not happening in my life then perhaps I should start questioning if I truly am a Christian.

Respond:

God, please do not let me be an embarrassment to Your great Name. Help my lifestyle and my actions give me a platform to share You with others. Help me to be diligent and hard working. Help me to live with honesty and integrity. Let it be said of me that I am both heavenly minded and earthly good. Live through me because I cannot do it on my own.

 

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25 thoughts on “Earthly Good

  1. I think the emphasis should be on your very last sentence under “React.” What truly is a Christian? The Pharisees were very focused on being seen as “earthly good,” but they managed to miss the essence of true Christianity.

    • That essence being “love God, love others.” Those Pharisees piled rules upon rules on themselves and their followers because they misunderstood what being earthly good truly meant.

  2. I struggle with knowing how I want to be as a Christian and what I do in actuality. Didn’t the Apostle Paul face the same struggles? “For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do—this I keep on doing.” ~ Romans 7:19

  3. Since I have started publicizing my blog, my co-workers are starting to treat me different. They don’t come up and make small talk anymore and they avoid me like the plague if I’m walking by their desks.
    I just feel it is my Christian duty to help spread God’s word. If we don’t, who will?
    I’m going to keep on keeping on!

  4. It was interesting during my time in southern China I heard that many of the Christian villages were now generally left alone since those in charge had realized that Christians tended to be more honest, hard working and problem free – industrious citizens.There also seemed to be a consensus that when learning about western culture, language etc. (I was teaching English) that Christians were far less likely to be a corrupting influence – they had learned by experience. God bless all those good practical Christians whose examples brought this to pass!

  5. C.S. Lewis said something to the effect of “The greatest good in this life has been accomplished by those who thought most of the next. We are called not to be “pie in the sky” Christians, but workers toward a new, redeemed heaven and earth.

    One thing more… would you please pray for my son Caleb, who has been diagnosed with a rare medical condition for which there is a bleak prognosis. Right now I’m praying first for a miracle and secondly an acceptance of God’s will.

    Thank you.

  6. James 1:19 – 26 sprang to mind – walking the talk. @Tonyroberts64 – Matthew 6:25 -34 shook me out of a three year worrying habit when my daughter was diagnosed with a rarish medical condition with a bleak prognosis. Miracles happen! So does acceptance. God bless Caleb!

  7. Your points are well taken. They are words to live by and be examples of to those around us. We all need to remember one thing and that is, “it doesn’t matter what the other person thinks BUT it does matter what God thinks!”

  8. Very well stated. I often asked myself the very questions you mention in your article. I remember back during my middle schools years in the 1980’s, I often wondered what I could do to make life better overall for everyone on this planet. In my prayers to the Lord, I often asked him to guide me on whatever path he set out for me to do, but that he also enable me to do something special in this world that would have a prolonged effect on society in a positive way. I was 12 1/2 years old at the time. I remember opening up my bible at that age, reading passages of the bible trying to figure out what they meant. However, at the time, I knew next to nothing about literary interpretation. It wasn’t until I got into high school that I learned about interpreting literature, gaining more experience in college, furthering the ability for many years later. After many years of study of the Bible on my own, I understood the messages the writers of the Bible where trying to convey. Through understanding them, I understood the Lord; thus, I gained a clearer understanding as to the way life worked. Eventually, I came to know myself better, the more I read, the more I analyzed, the more I questioned everything including my own existence, and the more I understood God’s plan for me.

  9. Interesting blog. BTW, I am a Hindu but blogged about Good Friday and Lord Jesus. I am a doctor as well but I never reveal my religion to my patients. But I do ask them to have faith in their religious beliefs. It is not about being a good Christian or a good Hindu but about a good human being who does justice to his work and his personal beliefs. Too much emphasis on ‘my religion’ is the root cause of the current strife in the world. Let us be good human beings first.

    • “It is not about being a good Christian or a good Hindu but about a good human being who does justice to his work and his personal beliefs.” Jasminnanda, Yes, I agree! I think it is also about having beliefs that do justice to the world and to the environment and humanity. If one believes only in me, me, me, and not in generosity, compassion and universal kindness then where are we? I also think that the world needs to re-evaluate its tendency to want to punish what it considers “criminal behavior” and “evildoers.”I have come to believe that punishment in all forms may in fact be the cause of “bad behavior” in the end and not its remedy. Especially in the United States I think that how we treat our prison population has been a resounding failure and has served only to harden and torture convicts and create more “criminals.” Of course, we long ago gave up on the notion of “rehabilitation” and do not even pretend to that. But I think that punishing children serves that same function, to make them worse in the end rather than better people. As the blog under a similar name suggests, Punishment is Abuse with an Excuse. As for Christians acting like “Christians” — if only there were not so many that acted as if they were better than the rest of us because they are “Christian” with a Capital C and only that…If a Christian (or a Hindu or a Muslim or a Jew for that matter) behaves with compassion and humility and generosity, then I will recognize a good person and that is all I care about, not what religion they profess! Thank you for letting me have my say here. Pam Wagner

      • You’re welcome.
        As one has family that worked in the prison system, I would say that the way the system is currently set up now serves as a training ground to help criminals become more effective criminals. They’ll swap stories, share tips, even take notes when watching shows like CSI or NCIS on their taxpayer financed cable TV’s. Not only that, prison offers them “three hots and a cot” and a far more structured environment than they have on the streets. I do believe there is an appropriate method, time and place for punishment but if it isn’t backed with a structured environment and bathed in love then, you’re right, it is nothing more than abuse with an excuse.

  10. Reblogged this on studiotj and commented:
    This post is really great and I wanted to share it with my readers. I hope you find it a inspiring as I do and I truly hope it motivates someone to take a closer look at themselves. There is soooooo much more I can say about this post but I’ll let the words speak for themselves.

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