The Bible says very little about the life of Jesus up until the few years preceding His death on the cross. Does this mean that those years weren’t important?
On the contrary, this time that He spent in ordinary situations, like those that we face each and every day, was crucial for Jesus to develop and fight against the sinful desires and tendencies that He had inherited by taking on flesh and blood.
It’s commonly assumed that Jesus was a carpenter when He was growing up, like His father Joseph was before Him. With what we know about Jesus and the life He led, we can expect that He was very easy to work with and that He was a diligent worker.
But what if Jesus simply wasn’t very good at His job? What if His work didn’t turn out quite so well as expected and He was tempted to discouragement and irritation, just like the rest of us? What if He didn’t like carpentry at all but had to do it anyway?
The same situations as us
There aren’t any passages in the Bible that tell us about Jesus’ abilities as a carpenter, which is fine because that detail really isn’t important. What is important to know is what we read about Jesus in Hebrews 4:15: “For we do not have a High Priest who cannot sympathize with our weaknesses, but was in all points tempted as we are, yet without sin.” We know from this that Jesus went through the same situations as us, including at His place of work, without giving in to sin. He was tempted to irritation and impatience. He was tempted to discouragement and frustration. And He didn’t give in.
An important part of Jesus’ work was to humble Himself. We can read in Philippians 2:5-8: “Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus, who, being in the form of God, did not consider it robbery to be equal with God, but made Himself of no reputation, taking the form of a bondservant, and coming in the likeness of men. And being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself and became obedient to the point of death, even the death of the cross.” So despite being the Son of God, He was still willing to take on tasks that may have been difficult, dirty or unpleasant.
What does this mean for me?
Maybe I don’t like my job. Maybe I don’t get along with my boss and my colleagues. Does this mean that I have no choice but to be miserable and bitter when I go to work everyday? Absolutely not! I can find peace and happiness anyway! “Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.” 1 Thessalonians 5:16-18.
“Rejoice always, pray without ceasing, in everything give thanks; for this is the will of God in Christ Jesus for you.”
When I share this same attitude that Jesus had, that I can be thankful and serve the others in all situations I find myself in, then life becomes a joy – regardless of my position. If I have the attitude that I’ll be happy only when I get that promotion, or only if I don’t have to work with this colleague anymore, then I am constantly left wanting more. Nothing ever satisfies.
How do I use each workday?
We spend a lot of time at our jobs. But this isn’t just time that goes by with no implication on my Christian life. When I am at work I get to see a lot my own will and tendencies towards sin. I see pride, anger and impatience. These might seem like “little things” that don’t matter so much in the big picture. But the culmination of these little decisions paves the path I will travel on in my life.
I can’t come into development unless I recognize something in myself that needs to be developed. This is a daily activity – true for every situation that I find myself in. If I know I need to develop my patience, it is an opportunity for me when I am tempted to impatience when at work.
When I choose to follow after the life that Jesus led, I have the opportunity to be transformed day-by-day, in all of life’s situations. By remaining steadfast and faithful to this goal, the “I” who always complained, felt discouraged and argued in the workplace will be whittled away and replaced by a completely new version of myself who can radiate love, peace and joy every day.