Published March 17, 2015
"Who Are You?"
One of the most common questions asked when someone is meeting someone else socially for the first time is, "So, what kind of work do you do?" (Or do just men do that?)
The question is asked, obviously, as a way of getting to know more about the individual involved. Knowing what they do gives us a frame of reference. Further questions about family give an additional frame of reference.
I was reminded of this by a quote once posted on his web site by a businessman. He said, quite simply, "What we do is an externalization of who we are."
Wow. Think about that for a moment. Let its significance sink in. "What we do is an externalization of who we are."
Let's see. What I do is to spend much of my time interviewing, researching, selecting music, producing, assembling, editing, writing, narrating and recording the weekly radio program you know as "The Gospel Greats." Is that an externalization of who I am? I guess so. That's how you know me. Some of you know me in other ways, but mostly I'm just that guy on the radio playing Southern Gospel music and interviewing the singers and songwriters. If we accept the argument that the program is, therefore, an externalization of who I am, and if we acknowledge that the program spreads the Gospel to everyone and anyone who'll listen, I feel pretty good about accepting that characterization.
But neither you nor I can be thought of as one-dimensional. There are many other aspects to our lives, and God is interested in all of them.
Think of what you do in the course of a typical day. Grasp the significance of this truth that what you do, in specific and in totality, says a lot about what and who you are. It says where you put your priorities. It says, "This is what I am willing to spend my time doing. This is how I am willing to spend the minutes, hours, days, months and years of my life."
Let's consider some extremes as examples. If you spend your day reading the Bible, that says a lot about who you really are and where you place your priorities. On the other hand, if you spend your day as a couch potato in front of the TV watching the drivel that passes for entertainment these days or pass many hours in front of the computer doing nothing essentially productive, that also says a lot about you and your priorities. Obviously, most of us are somewhere between those extremes.
You've heard the old saw, "You are what you eat." Perhaps this is a variation "You are what you do."
Now, granted, there are very many things in this life over which we have little control.
We must, for example, work. We must have some sort of income. Our "free time" or "discretionary time," therefore, is very limited. But even your employment can say a lot about you. Certainly, the way you perform the tasks assigned to you will say much about the "real you" and "who you are." Are you the type of employee who gives the employer an honest day's work for a day's pay? Or are you the kind who does just enough to get by, staying just below the boss' radar? Are you the type who dreads getting up for work? Or are you excited by the prospect? As someone once put it, do you wake up and say, "Good morning, Lord!" Or do you say, "Good Lord, it's morning!" Which provides a good Christian testimony? And which doesn't?
Here are a few other things that say a lot about who you really are:
How do you treat your neighbors? Yes, even that obnoxious guy next door. ("...thou shalt love thy neighbour as thyself..." Leviticus 19:18.)
Do you attend church regularly to fellowship with other believers? (Hebrews 10:25: "Not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as the manner of some is; but exhorting one another: and so much the more, as ye see the day approaching.")
Husbands, do you love your wives as Christ loved the church (that is, sacrificially)? (See Ephesians 5:25,28,33.)
Wives, do you love and respect your husbands? (See Ephesians 5:22,23.)
Are you known as a cheerful, optimistic person? Or a grumpy pessimist? (See Philippians 2:14,15.)
Are you quick to blame others and slow to take responsibility? (See James 4:17, Galatians 6:5.)
Are you known as someone with a hot temper? (James 1:19: "Wherefore, my beloved brethren, let every man be swift to hear, slow to speak, slow to wrath: For the wrath of man worketh not the righteousness of God.")
Is your manner of speech evidence that you are a Christian? Or would someone listening to you talk, especially in an unguarded moment, think otherwise? (See James 3.)
This list, of course, could be expanded greatly. But here is the question that covers all of the above: Do you do everything "as unto the Lord?" ("Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me." Matthew 25:40.)
As in all things, we can look to Christ as an example. He is, after all, the expression of Who God is. We know God because we know His Son. How did He spend His time? Scripture gives us no indication that He wasted time during His years of ministry. He was single-minded in His work. In fact, what we know is that He knew as early as age twelve that He was to "be about my Father's business." (Luke 2:49.) And He did exactly that.
"So, what kind of work do you do?" What kind of life are you living? To what extent are you about your Father's business?
Pray about this. Ask God to clarify for you what His will is for your life. Are you where He wants you? (Perhaps you are, at least in general terms. And you know what a blessing that is!) Remember Proverbs 3:6: "In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths." Are there things that need to be "pruned" from you daily routine so that the "tree" of your life will bear better fruit?
So, who are you? Who are you, really? And, more to the point, are you the person God really wants you to be?
(This column first appeared here Aug. 3, 2004.)
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