4. Motives

  1. We do not work because it is without obligation, but because working is a gift from God that we cannot refuse with gratitude. Work as a gift renders us indebted. To work is a privilege, but also a duty. We cannot demand our work from God, but God demands our work.
  2. We do not work for our own glory and fame, but for God’s glory and fame.50 Self-determination, self-glorification, or self-development are not the highest aims of working; it is self-realization in the sense of realizing what God intended for us. We do not work to bring glory to ourselves, but to bring glory to God. We do not work to elevate ourselves, but to elevate God. We do not work for ourselves but for God.
  3. We do not work to prove ourselves or to make something of our lives, but to prove we belong to God and that He makes our lives. God is our Creator, Redeemer, and Reformer. When God accepts us as His child, He accepts us unconditionally. Work does not detract from or add anything to that. God will not look at us differently because of our efforts. He looks at us through Jesus Christ.
  4. We do not work mindful of what people say about us, but mindful of what God says about us.51 If we work for God, then God is in charge. Working for God is not about what people think of us, but what God thinks of us. It is not about how people judge us, but how God judges us. It is not about whether we can justify our work to people without embarrassment, but whether we can do this to God. It is not even about what people say about us at the end of our life, but what God says about us and to us in the afterlife.52 This exit interview of our life, this assessment interview for eternity before God’s throne, has only two possible outcomes: admission or rejection, hiring or refusal, in or out, glory or damnation, heaven or hell.
  5. We work not to win but to lose ourselves in God.53 By working we learn to trust God, to expect from Him our work and its fruits, to become more and more dependent on Him, and to know Him more and deeper.
  6. We work not to become something, but because we are someone. A Christian is someone before he does anything; we are Christians before we work as Christians.
  7. We work not to redeem ourselves, but we work from the redemption by Jesus Christ. Salvation is not about working but about resting in Jesus. The gospel is not about what we do for God, but what God does for us in Jesus Christ.54
  8. We work not for our own justification, but from God’s justification of us. We live not by our work but by God’s. Our work matters not to faith and grace but from faith and grace. Only faith in Jesus Christ ensures preservation and salvation and gives true life.55 We should know that our access to God does not depend on our works but on God’s grace.56 Through the work of Jesus Christ, God provides us with justification that is independent of our own works.57
  9. We work not to be saved by God but because we are saved by Jesus. Even when we work hard and well, there is no way we earn our salvation by it.58 Our work is not beatific. We do not earn heaven with work.59 Only by God’s grace can we be saved. From our salvation through Jesus Christ, we work for God’s glory.60
  10. We work not for peace with God but out of peace with Him.61 Peace with God is not the result of our work but its reason.
  11. We work not to earn anything from God but to serve God. Our work and its fruits are not our merits but rather gifts from God. God can never be indebted to us; He owes us nothing. Those who work to earn something from God are using God to serve their own interest. We work selflessly for God, not for blessings in our work and rewards in heaven.
  12. We work not to be blessed but because we are blessed by God. We are already blessed if we are able to work and especially if we perform our work for the glory of God. Whether God blesses us and our work is up to God. We cannot predict, force, or claim God’s blessings. God blesses in His own way, and works when, how, and through whom He wants. He acts according to His plans, not according to our works.
  13. We work not to perform in the eyes of God but to be in relationship with Him. God does not do performance measurement, performance appraisal, or performance-based reward. With God, it’s not about being something only when we perform, but about who we are in relationship to Him. Because Jesus has redeemed us, we don’t have to sell ourselves to God; we may come as we are. Jesus draws a line in the accounting of our sins not because of our blood, sweat, and tears in our work but because of the blood of Jesus in His work.
  14. We work not to come to God but so God can come to us through work. Work is a way to experience God’s presence, for God to seek us out, for God to reveal Himself to us.
  15. We work not because God necessarily needs our work, but because we need God in His work. It is blasphemous to think that we can impress God or that God cannot do without us and our work. That’s why it is all the more admirable that God puts us to work anyway. We may thank God for allowing us to work and thus ask if we may help Him in His work.
  16. We work not because it benefits God, but because God thinks working is beneficial to us. Humanity is not there for work, but work is there for humanity. God demands our lives and thereby our work because He has our best interests at heart.62 By working, God works on us.

  1.  1 Corinthians 1:31, 2 Corinthians 10:17-18
  2. Matthew 6:4, Colossians 3:23
  3. Romans 14:12
  4. Matthew 16:25
  5. Romans 3:23-24, Galatians 2:20
  6. Romans 3:21-26, Romans 4:5, Romans 5:1, Romans 6:10-11
  7. Romans 5:15, Romans 11:6
  1.  Titus 3:5
  2.  Ephesians 2:8-10
  3.  Matthew 20:1-16
  4.  Romans 7:4
  5.  Romans 5:1, Hebrews 13:20-21
  6.  Ephesians 2:10


  1. To what extent do I already know the sixteen motives listed? Or are there new ones for me? If so, which? (#1-16)
  2. Which of the sixteen motives listed do I endorse or agree with completely? And which ones do I agree with less or not at all? (#1-16)
  3. In my opinion, is there a priority in terms of importance of the sixteen motives listed? If so, which? (#1-16)
  4. Which of the sixteen motives mentioned do I experience in myself and in how I work? (#1-16)
  5. Which of the sixteen motives listed (that I agree with) do I find difficult or even impossible to live by? In other words, which ones are most under pressure or challenging for me? (#1-16)
  6. Which of the sixteen motives mentioned will I express more in my work? And how will I do this concretely and hold on to them consistently? (#1-16)
  7. By the way, are there any motives that I missed or not mentioned? (#1-16)
  8. How would I feel if someone who does the same job as I do earns twice the income? (#2)
  9. How would I feel if someone who does the same job as I do receives much more blessings? (#12)
  10. How would I feel if it turned out that God accepts in grace someone who is professionally more successful than I am due to all kinds of improper conduct? (#13)
  11. If I had one year to live and I could choose between continuing to work and stopping immediately, which would I choose?
  12. How would I feel if there was only one working day and six rest days in a week?
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