Work in the Spirit 25

imgresWorking solely for self-interest is “at odds with one of the most essential aspects of a Christian theology of work,” says Miroslav Volf in Work in the Spirit.  “One should not leave the well-being of other individuals and the community to the unintended consequences of self-interested activity.”

Why not?  Because the New Testament says we should work to provide for our own sustenance as well as “to provide for [our] needy fellow human beings.”  In fact, the reception of the gifts of the Spirit “obligates one to serve fellow human beings…and service constitutes an important criterion of the genuineness of” such gifts.

Therefore, “in order for my work to be humane…the good of others must be a goal toward which I am consciously striving.”  Ultimately, “my own good and the good of the whole human family are both included in the shalom of the new creation,” so there is no “contraction” in one “giving himself up” for someone and “loving himself” at the same time in one’s work.  

This has couple implications according to Volf.  First, “it is…necessary to create structures that will not foster egoism.”  Second, “respect for individual liberty will not suffice as a basic rule for the market game,” but “respect for the right of sustenance of all individuals must be added.”  If market “will not behave according to this rule,” “it is the market that has to go.”

A call-to-arms, if you will, for Christians work to transform the market rather than simply accepting it as is.


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