In the mid-1980s, my wife and I attended a Sunday School class at an Evangelical Free Church in Deerfield, Illinois. The class was team-taught by two Bible professors from Trinity Evangelical Divinity School, Dr. John H. Sailhamer and Dr. Gleason Archer, Jr. To learn about the Bible from two such scholars was a great honor.
I remember well a discussion one Sunday in which the two distinguished Old Testament scholars debated whether the Hebrew word in Genesis 2:15 translated into English as “work” should be translated as “worship?” Dr. Archer was of the opinion that the Hebrew word should be translated as “worship.” He blamed the mistranslation of the Hebrew word as “work” on those who produced the King James translation of the Bible. Dr. Sailhamer favored “work.” The difference of opinion, as I recall, seemed to have something to do with a little mark—a jot or tittle as they say—above one of the letters of the Hebrew word that determines the correct translation.
That said, now to the subject of this review, Grace at Work: Redeeming the Grind & the Glory of You Job by Bryan Chapell (Crossway, 2022). Bryan Chapell is a former pastor, seminary professor, and seminary president. Grace at Work is a biblical, and therefore Christian, look at how we who identify as followers of Jesus Christ should view our labor, job, work, vocation, or “daily grind.” Many of us, indeed myself, have often felt that work is a byproduct of the curse mentioned in Genesis 3:17. That is not true. Ecclesiastes 5:18-20 says that for one to enjoy one’s work is a blessing from God. Bryan Chapell challenges the reader to consider work as a part of who we are as Christians: “Is what we are doing truly honoring God?” Every aspect of our life, everything we are and do, should reflect our relationship with our Lord, Jesus Christ. Work, for example, results in financial reward. But our material possessions, including our finances, are not “private property,” as seen from a worldly perspective. We exercise stewardship over our possessions, including our very life. Using or misusing our possessions will reflect our relationship with Jesus Christ. The central theme in Grace at Work is that God gives purpose to our work, and through our work, many opportunities to show the world what it means to be one saved by Grace through faith in Jesus Christ.
Grace at Work is well-written, easy to read, and easy to understand. It includes “Notes,” which guide further reading if desired. There is also a “General Index” and a “Scripture Index.”
We Christians live lives in total obedience. We struggle with what the apostle Paul called “the old nature.” Still, we are given daily opportunities to be an example to the world of what it means to be a clay vessel in God’s hands.