The Great Commandment of Work
By Will Messinger | Theology of Work
For all the many hours that we spend at work, the people to the right and to the left of us are our neighbors. Jesus teaches that whether or not we love our coworkers is directly linked to how much we love God.
When Jesus answers a lawyer’s question about which commandment in all of scripture is the greatest, he brings together two commandments into one new directive. Love God, and love your neighbor as yourself.
This new dual command has been called The Great Commandment for its importance in all of scripture. We cannot fully show our love for God if we do not love our neighbor.
What does loving our neighbor as our own self look like in the workplace? It looks like paying attention to a coworker’s presentation rather than checking your phone, even if the subject matter isn’t interesting to you. You would want to see other people’s eyes if you were giving a presentation.
Or it looks like taking time to sit with a new coworker at lunch because you would want to be welcomed if it were your first day on the job. Or it looks like asking a colleague, “Is it possible we’re not taking her seriously enough because she’s a woman?” knowing that you would want a colleague to stand up for you if you were being misunderstood.
These are small examples, yet each of them may come at a price—boredom, an hour of unbillable time, access to the inner circle of power. To love your coworkers, as yourself, may require taking risks that we would surely take in order to serve our own ends, but which loom large when undertaken only for the benefit of someone else. It is truly a high bar, and perhaps that is why Jesus equates such behavior with showing love for God.
God, I love you with all my heart, soul, and might. Let me express my love for you today by loving my coworkers. Give me eyes to see the ways I love myself, and let me love others in this way.
For more ways that you can love your neighbor through your work, see the Theology of Work Commentary on Leviticus.
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