Your Work Has Value Even When the Stain Won’t Come Out

By Michelle Koh, reprinted from the Salt & Light Australia Daily Devotional. 

He came in, lugging a huge steam cleaner. I honestly felt doubtful, wondering if that small stain on my couch would ever come off. 

He moved my furniture, meticulously ensuring I had a towel near the suspecting stain, so the water wouldn’t destroy my rug underneath. He set out to systematically apply product and then steam clean the area.  Ever so careful and attentive.  

When I asked him whether all the effort he put into cleaning it worked, he made a joke, saying it would be years before the couch would dry and only then would I know the result.  

I should have asked him whether he found that frustrating – doing all this work, and leaving client’s homes not knowing if any of his hard work resulted in a positive outcome. 

As he left, I pondered – isn’t a lot of work like that? Like the teacher would spends late nights preparing and mulling over material they will teach their students the next day… only to have her class disrupted by some rowdy students. Will what she did ever amount to anything significant and substantial in her students? Only time will tell.  

And it’s not just the 3-4 hours I had to wait for the steam cleaning on the couch to fully dry, but years…and then, not even then perhaps. My thoughts drifted back to think of the teachers who in hindsight had impacted me. I still remember Ms. Sim, my primary school math teacher who was instrumental in my love of math…which led me to pursue an engineering degree.

Do we do work only for the outcome? How much does our attitude count towards doing “good work”? 

Back to the stain on my couch. 

Isn’t that a metaphor in life – we can’t always be sure all the stains will be removed by our work, or even if the few intense and concentrating minutes count for anything…if good work is to be measured by the outcome.

But, what if, by his presence and attitude to his work, he encouraged me to keep preserving. To have the right attitude to work and to do it for the Lord, even if no one is looking…and he even cheered up my day by cracking a joke. 

In Colossians 3:23 it states, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”

“Always give yourselves fully to the work of the Lord, because you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

In the book The Heavenly Good of Earthly Work, Darrell Cosden ponders more specifically what our work will be like:

Our sanctified imaginations can only suggest what we think God’s promise to make all things new might mean…There will be, no doubt, some specific products of our work that through judgment will be transformed and incorporated into the “new physics” of the new creation.

Prayer

Lord, thank you for our daily work and for the opportunity to partner with you in all that we do. To work for you through all that we do, knowing that our work here on earth is not in vain. May you remind us that our work here on earth counts in eternity. 

In Jesus name, 
Amen.  

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