DO we really gain worth through our work? There are some people who consistently work overtime, perhaps partly so they can feel personal worth. Yet, afterward, that twinge of emptiness may creep in again, setting them off to do still more.
Clearly, there's nothing wrong with hard labor. But can we feel greater worth simply by working harder? In Matthew, Christ Jesus gives us a parable that hints strongly at the answer to this question.1 It's the one where laborers are hired to work in a vineyard. All receive the same pay even though they work varying lengths of time. As the householder hires each group, he says, ``Whatsoever is right, that shall ye receive.''
One lesson we can draw from this parable is that worth isn't found in material terms. The fact that the householder paid each man equally, regardless of the number of hours spent working or the amount of work completed, indicates that true, spiritual worth is a quality inherent in man's sonship with God. And, as the Bible says of what God has created, ``Nothing can be put to it, nor any thing taken from it.''2
Neither you nor I can add to our worth as God's offspring, nor can we (or anyone else!) take from it. Yet we need to open our thought to this spiritual reality, and we need to express more of the purity and love inherent in our true being in order to recognize our worth more fully.
God is our creator. And our worth comes from the fact that God is perfect and good and complete in His own being, and that He expresses Himself in all that He creates in just these terms -- perfection, goodness, and completeness. His work is finished, and it is full of spiritual worth, and that work includes man.
But, as we've already indicated, this doesn't leave you and me with nothing to do. Quite the contrary! We need to feel more of that worth and prove it through a greater expression of the divine nature in our thoughts and actions. Our job, then, isn't to strive to build up a material sense of worth but to express more of the spiritual value we already have. This can be hard work, of course. But it's a wonderfully rewarding task of spiritual discovery.
The God-given worth we feel will grow even as our own love and unselfish living grow deeper. This is real happiness! Mary Baker Eddy, the Discoverer and Founder of Christian Science, writes, ``Happiness consists in being and in doing good; only what God gives, and what we give ourselves and others through His tenure, confers happiness: conscious worth satisfies the hungry heart, and nothing else can.''3
Again, none of this means that we should shy away from hard work, and there's nothing wrong with enjoying what we accomplish. It's just that we need to see that in the deepest sense our worth isn't simply a product of our work. It's a God-bestowed spiritual quality inherent in us. So we are really bringing worth to our work because we are, in truth, the expression of the one God with all that His nature includes.
There is really nothing wrong with seeking our worth -- we all do it! But we can have a better time looking for it if we know that it's already there, already a part of us. Our seeking is really discovery -- discovery of our own completeness now in God. This spiritual fact really supports the work we do on our jobs, and it can make our work experience much happier.
1See Matthew 20:1-16. 2Ecclesiastes 3:14. 3Message to The Mother Church for 1902, p. 17.