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A Good Return: Biblical Principles for Work, Wealth and Wisdom by John C. Lennox

A Good Return: Biblical Principles for Work, Wealth and Wisdom by John C. Lennox. Christian Focus Publications. 194 pages. 2023

John Lennox is Professor Emeritus of Mathematics at the University of Oxford. I’ve had the pleasure of seeing him speak at the Sing! Conference, and have read a few of his previous books. In this book, he discusses biblical principles that he has found helpful in his own work in the hope that the reader can apply them to their own situation. Each chapter ends with helpful questions about the material covered in that chapter. In addition, there are two appendices included:

Appendix A: Principles of Gospel Support
Appendix B: Insights from Neuroscience

Throughout the book, Lennox shares helpful stories, including some from his own life, as well as examples from the Bible about David, Daniel, Nehemiah, Joseph and Zacchaeus. Among the subjects he addresses in the book are making work an idol, rest, anxiety, evil, suffering, evangelism, moral issues (money, sex, and power), our motivation for work, sin, the artificial secular-sacred divide, work as a calling, gospel patronage, reward, and principles for the support of the gospel.
Throughout the book, Lennox refers to material from Iain McGilchrist’s 2021 book, The Matter with Things: Our Brains, Our Delusions and the Unmaking of the World, though I didn’t feel that the material added a lot to this book (though this could certainly be due to me not being able to fully comprehend the information).
The author tells us that the purpose of work is seeking God’s kingdom and righteousness, and that whatever our work, we are to do it as accountable to the Lord, seeking His righteousness and desiring to develop our moral integrity. He suggests asking ourselves in every situation we find ourselves in (paid and unpaid work): what does it mean to please the Lord now?
A Good Return is a book that provides helpful principles about work and wealth.

Below are some of the quotes I found most helpful from the book:

  • It will be important for us not to fall into the trap of imagining that the only kind of work that matters is paid work.
  • This creation pattern established the cycle of work and rest for human beings and, therefore, in any consideration of work, it is important to think about the necessity of taking regular rest from that work.
  • If we are busy people, indeed, especially if we are busy people, we need to remind ourselves constantly that we should do what we do to please the Lord, because He has accepted us. We are not doing it to impress Him, so that He will accept us. Only then, will we have the right attitude to our work.
  • Christians are not to be lazy and idle; they are to work to provide for themselves and dependents.
  • Our colleagues and fellow workers are a network in which God has placed us as witnesses by how we live (in character), and what we say to them about the gospel when we get the opportunity.
  • Doing our work as unto the Lord will therefore mean, not only doing it with integrity to the best of our ability but will mean having a responsibility to prayerfully look for opportunities to witness to our fellow employees/workers/colleagues, as and when we can credibly do so.
  • It is the workplace, whether at home, factory, farm, mines, shops, building sites or offices, where we usually face the challenges that shape our lives.
  • Christians are to be different. By seeking God’s rule in their work, they are to act as salt and light in society, preserving it from corruption, and pointing the way to the source of the fulfilled life in Christ.
  • To exercise power in the interests of others as a Christian leader, and be a role model in terms of integrity for others, is an immense privilege.
  • The Lord is interested in every aspect of our lives, and not simply in what we think of as our spiritual activities. Our daily work is to be done for Him.
  • Heaven will be no boring rest home, but a hive of fascinating activity where the skills and experience developed on earth will be transformed into something higher, richer, and infinitely satisfying.
  • The fact that our work not only has a temporal but also an eternal significance is one of the unique glories of the Christian faith.