The Benefit of Personal Work
Putting our faith into action, which God knows is best for us, yields many benefits; it will take you deep to the Father’s heart.
The first benefit is obvious. Personal work positively affects our outward conduct. In our workplace, in our family, in our church, everywhere. The reality that we might speak a word about Jesus has a seasoning effect on our behavior.
Take one example: swearing. I used to swear like a sailor. When I became a Christian, God in his mercy removed this terrible habit. That was long before I began personal work. Yet, I cannot imagine speaking about Jesus with ‘every other word being a “blip”. It is not that I walk around thinking, “I better not swear”. No, it is instead that my mind is captivated by the things of God. The more we do Personal Work, the more we will have our mind set on things above (Colossians 3:2).
Personal work is a bit like exercising. You benefit from being in shape, having a good heart, and more, especially when your diet and exercise are dialled in. The more Personal Work you do, the more you are prone to stay in spiritual shape. It is not automatic. Satan certainly would like to cause you to fall. The news is littered with Christians who have succumbed to moral failures. However, the alternative is not to sit on the sidelines, for there too; Satan has won.
Here is another benefit. It is internal. It is our individual walk with the Lord. Consider if we were to awake each day, and as we read our Bible and prayed, we added to our petitions of the Lord prayers for those we have spoken with in the last week.
Our prayers for them are not only for their conversion but also for the real-life concerns they shared with us. As our day goes on, we begin to see other people, asking the Lord for an opportunity to speak to them (I will get to the speaking bit in chapters three and four). Imagine if these thoughts occupied our minds. Do you think such thoughts and prayers would have a positive effect on our walk with the Lord?
Such a disposition turns us outward from ourselves to others, which leads to another benefit. We become more at ease around those who do not share our faith. How easy it is, as followers of Jesus, to hang around with others who are followers of Jesus. A natural, unintended wall forms around us. We become out of touch with the outside world. We become like monks and nuns without ever entering a monastery or convent. Personal work keeps us connected to the world—the world which God is reconciling to himself in Christ (2 Cor. 5:19).
We should not be surprised by this effect. Our Master was out among the people.
This leads to a third positive effect. We start loving people more. Below I highlight just a few stories of people who opened up to me, and I was humbled. The challenges they face in life, the hurdles they overcome daily, and more, lead me to pray for them and love them.
Bottom Line: Personal Work changes my disposition for the better. I am goal-oriented. I like to see things get done. I like to feel a sense of accomplishment. However, that goal orientation has an unintended consequence. I risk not seeing the people right in front of me. Personal Work changes that inside of me. It doesn’t lessen my goal-driven orientation. It simply makes me more aware of the humans around me. It leads to softer language. It leads to more prayer. It leads to God’s grace working through me.
I am far from a saint, and there are many days I am “not the best version of myself”. But Personal Work is one practical exercise that gets me turned the right-way-round.
Finally, we start seeing God more in action—it is pure Joy!