This is a big week for us at Desiring God. We will be hosting our National Conference which begins Friday at the Minneapolis Convention Center. This will be our twelfth national conference, and it will be our final national conference. I know a lot of listeners plan to be here in person this weekend. It will also be a special conference because you, Pastor John, will be giving five of the sessions yourself. You’ve never done that.
The whole point of the conference is to show how relevant the Bible is for daily life. So Pastor John, what would you say to a listener, a man or woman listening to this episode right now who says — if they are really honest about it — the Bible doesn’t seem very relevant to my average day, where I live and work. Why do I need to read every day?” How would you answer that?
Well, let me say one thing I know for sure in response to this question and another thing I don’t know. What I know is that the Bible is relevant to this person’s average day where he lives and works. And I will tell you why in just a minute. What I don’t know is what his goals are in life and work. And the reason that matters is that you can have goals at work or in life which will put you so out of sync with the Bible that you find the Bible to be annoying or condemning or boring, because all its teaching is in a different direction from the direction you are going. And I don’t know where this question is coming from in terms of spiritual life or what the goals are. So let me go back to my first question and we will circle around to the other one.
All to the Glory of God
I know the Bible is relevant to this person’s daily life. He says he doesn’t feel like it is. I know it is. And here is how I know. The Bible says, “Whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31). The Bible says, “Render service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man” (Ephesians 6:7–8). So, at work is he “rendering service to the Lord, not to man, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive back from the Lord?” This person’s life and job fit in the category of whatever he does in rendering service. At least it ought to. All of life is to be lived to the glory of God, and only in the Bible can we not only learn how to do this, but find the spiritual power to do it.
So I say, again, I don’t know if this person has that goal. If his passion is not to glorify God in his work and not to do it as to the Lord, then probably the Bible is going to seem foreign and useless. But here are some questions I would ask to have him or her test the relevance of the Bible. Are you ever tempted to grumble at work or complain? Well, Philippians 2:15 is relevant and shows a glorious way to live without grumbling. Are you ever tempted to be greedy at work or to take something that is not yours? The Bible has lots to say about covetousness and greed and stealing and how to be so content in Christ that you are free at work to be generous (see Luke 12:15; Philippians 4:11).
Relevant for All of Life
Are you ever tempted to be worried or anxious at work? Everyone is. And the Bible talks about this almost as much as it does anything. The most common command in the Bible is, “Fear not” (see Genesis 15:1; Isaiah 41:10; Matthew 10:31). For anybody who has any fears at work, the Bible is relevant. Are you ever tempted to brag at work or to boast or to draw attention to yourself and your superiority in some area? The Bible is full of wisdom about pride and humility and the effect it has on relationships (see Philippians 2:3). Are you ever tempted at work to be angry with anybody? Do you deal with temper issues? Are there strained relationships because you are so frustrated with other people? The Bible deals over and over again with the issue of anger and goes a lot deeper in that issue than any psychology can today (see Psalm 37:8; James 1:19–20).
Are you ever tempted to cut corners at work — not to do the whole work expected, but punch out early or come in late or work halfheartedly? The Bible is so relevant to the quality of our work (see Colossians 3:23). Are you ever tempted sexually at work to lust or to be unfaithful? The Bible is full of relevant materials on a robust view of sexuality that puts it all in a good perspective and a proper place (see Proverbs 11:6; Matthew 5:27–28). Are you ever tempted to feel sorry for yourself at work, to lick your own wounds because someone spoke evil of you, or you got passed over for a promotion? The Bible is shot through with dynamics of life that help us deal with self-pity (see 1 Corinthians 1:27; 2 Corinthians 12:10).
Do you ever struggle with guilt at work, feelings that just come over you that are a vague sense that you are not as good as you should be, or maybe you really failed at something you should have succeeded at by your own standards? There is no remedy except the ultimate remedy given in the Bible for guilt (see 1 Corinthians 1:4–9; 1 Peter 2:24). Are there lost people at work that you care about, that you don’t want to go to hell? Where are you going to get help for dealing with them in the hope of giving them life except in the Bible? Where are you going to get strength and courage and boldness and wisdom for how to deal with those people (see 2 Corinthians 2:14–17)?
The Bible’s Greatest Treasure
So my answer is, It is so obvious that the Bible is relevant for this fellow’s work and his life. But really it comes down to this: Does he or she want to see the greatest treasure in the universe? Does he desire to know Jesus and enjoy Jesus more than anything? Does he love people so much that he grieves over the fact that they don’t know Jesus and will be lost forever without him? That is the question.
If Jesus is supreme in this person’s life, if the passion is to know him above all, if the passion is to desire him and enjoy him and treasure him more than anything, if the passion is to bring as many people with you as you can into that experience, then you can’t live without the Bible. It is the most relevant book in the world.