Twentieth Century Reformed theologian John Murray’s Principles of Conduct is a standard work in Christian ethics from a biblical theological perspective. I have seen it cited in countless footnotes over the past few years, and was delighted to stumble upon a used copy in my hometown of Dyersburg, TN, recently. I have been reviewing his section on “The Ordinance of Labour” for a Sunday night series on work and vocation, and it is thoughtful and clear. If he looks no-nonsense in the picture above, that pretty well captures his writing style – the man delivers the goods. Here’s a flavor, as he reminds us why we need to remember our work is a calling form God:
“It is the consciousness of divine vocation [calling] in the particular task assigned to us that will imbue us with the proper sense of responsibility in the discharge of it. The New Testament lays peculiar stress on the God-oriented motivation and direction of all our toil. This is, of course, a specific application of the governing principle of all of life – ‘whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.’ (1 Cor 10:31) ‘For none of us lives to himself, and none of us dies to himself: for if we live, we live to the Lord, and if die, we die to the Lord.’ (Rom 14:7-8) But the specific application to the sphere of labour receives particular emphasis. There is good reason for this. When labour involves drudgery, when the hardship is oppressive, when the conditions imposed upon us are not those which mercy and justice would dictate, when we are tempted to individual or organized revolt, when we are ready to recompense evil on the part of our master with the evil of careless work on our part, it is just then that we need to be reminded, ‘whatsoever ye do, do heartily as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord ye shall receive the recompense of the inheritance. Ye serve the Lord Christ.’ (Col 3:23-24)”
John Murray, Principles of Conduct (Grand Rapids, MI: Eerdmans, 1957), 87.