Take a glance at the App Store or Google Play, and you’ll notice that productivity apps are among the most popular and downloaded apps in the smart device marketplace. Productivity is trendy (so is using the word “trendy”), and there are no shortage of books, systems, and tools that promise to bring order to your otherwise chaotic life. I must admit that I’ve fallen for the trend hook, line, and sinker. After all, who doesn’t want a more efficient work life and more neatly organized home life?
Before going any further, let me qualify my use of the word productivity. Historically, the term has been defined as “an average measure of the efficiency of production” in the fields of science, economics, industry, and farming. Most recently, the term has been applied to individuals. “Personal productivity,” therefore, is planning and organizing time and tasks in order to most efficiently fulfill the responsibilities in your life. This is what I mean by productivity.
Given the definition above, productivity is not only wise and responsible, it is thoroughly biblical. And I want to show three ways to look at productivity through the lens of the gospel.
God is productive.
This is most clearly seen in the opening chapters of the Bible. In Genesis 1:1-2:9 we learn that by his powerful decree, God created the universe in all its wonders and all the earth’s inhabitants. Like items on a checklist (albeit a poetic one), Genesis records God’s completed tasks and his satisfaction that everything was good.
Then in Genesis 3, we learn that humans and the created order are marred by sin. Decay and death follow. But God is a planner, and he reveals his great redemption project to Adam, Eve, and the Tempter in Genesis 3:15:
I will put enmity between you and the woman,
and between your offspring and her offspring;
he shall bruise your head,
and you shall bruise his heel.
And as time goes on, God revealed greater details about himself and his work of redemption to Abraham (Genesis 15:1-6, 17:4-8), Moses (Exodus 3, Exodus 20), the prophets (Isaiah 53). And then, “when the fullness of time had come, God sent forth his Son, born of woman, born under the law, to redeem those who were under the law, so that we might receive adoption as sons” (Galatians 4:4-5). On the cross, Jesus made sons and daughters out of enemies and rebels. God masterfully executed and accomplished his plan – the plan that he devised before the world was even created – in the person and work of Jesus Christ his Son. And his work continues throughout history, as the church heralds the gospel to the ends of the earth.
We are productive because we are God’s image bearers.
Even in sin, we bear the image and likeness of God. No doubt the image is marred and scarred by sin, but there are aspects and attributes in every person that display the Creator’s imprint. Productivity is an aspect of God’s common grace to humanity. That is, God has extended the gift of productivity to people regardless of their spiritual condition. As Christians, we can learn valuable productivity skills and techniques from unbelievers and also recognize that the insights are a gift from God for his glory and our good.
Productivity means living on mission.
Lastly, if we allow the Gospel inform our understanding of work, then we will begin to see the overarching purpose for our daily tasks, schedules, and even our jobs – to glorify God. The completion of tasks, then, are not an end in themselves, and they are certainly not the way we garner favor with God. Instead our plans and schedules and tasks are filled with ways to display good works that flow from a transformed heart. Ephesians 2:8-10 states: “For by grace you have been saved through faith. And this is not your own doing; it is the gift of God, not a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.”
I will close with this charge from the Apostle Paul: “Therefore, my beloved brothers, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that in the Lord your labor is not in vain” (1 Corinthians 15:58).
Resources on Productivity: