John Lennox's Good Return: Work, Wealth & Wisdom (Part II)


Part I

John Lennox’s most recent book titled, A Good Return[:] Biblical Principles for Work, Wealth and Wisdom (Fearn, Ross-shire, UK: Christian Focus, 2023) offers great lessons for business leaders. Lennox is skilled at bringing his unique perspective and life experiences to bear on work, wealth, and wisdom.

Lennox highlights one important reminder for business leaders: “All of us need to think constructively about how we can use our positions as a platform for evangelism, in the way that might not necessarily be open to others” [54-5]. He explains how the circumstances of the call of the disciples gives us further insights into the biblical understanding of work.

Lennox talks about the nature of “full-time work” in the context of ministry. In his own case, as a full-time professor, he was prodded to go into full-time ministry to be more effective. He ruefully explains: “Sometimes, when I enquired how much activity was really involved in this so-called full-time work, I was saddened to discover that I was doing much more, in what they would have called my spare-time” [86].

So, who does well in the marketplace? He notes: “What is very clear is that at the heart of those that thrive there are a few individuals with a deep sense of calling, who, often at considerable personal cost, many even to the extent of foregoing lucrative careers, devote all of their time and energy, to the service of the Lord” [90].

He discusses the concept of “Gospel patronage.”  He cites an example: “In 1523, a brave and far-sighted Christian cloth merchant and trader, Humphrey Monmouth, partnered with [William] Tyndale and became his patron, funding Tyndale’s mission to translate the Scriptures into English, thus making them available to the common man” [97].

Lennox address a challenging passage which relates to the parable of the dishonest manager (Lk. 16:1-13). He concludes: “Yet the sons of light, believers in God, that is, can learn something very important from the man’s shrewdness” [114]. There is a reference is to “unrighteous wealth.” The wealth itself is tainted. Lennox concludes: “This passage would seem to be telling us that the Lord recognises this circumstance, and therefore does not put the accent on us, trying to sort it out, but emphasises what we, as righteous “managers” this time, should actually do with our ‘unrighteous wealth’” [114].

He addresses the notion of work’s eternal rewards. He highlights three principles. First, “believers will one day after death be assessed by the Lord, not to determined whether they are saved or not, but to assess the quality of what they have done during their lives, and to be recompensed for it, either positively or negatively” [138]. Second, “the quality of our entrance to the future kingdom is linked to the character we have developed in this life” [141]. Third, “ee affect the quality or richness of our entry into the eternal kingdom of the Lord Jesus Christ by the extent of our character development, and increase in getting to know Him” [143].

Lennox discusses one of the most oft-cited passages by business leaders: the parable of the talents. Lennox notes that, “when it comes to the proper heavenly reward for work, we find that at least one aspect of it is the opposite of retirement: it is the opportunity to do more work. Jesus used His parable of the talents to teach us this—read Luke 19:1-27 at this point.” He explains that the parable of the talents teaches that when he returns, he will reign, and his servants will reign with him [145].

Why is work important for Christians? Lennox emphasizes that, “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” [147]. That’s a fitting exclamation point to Lennox’s book.

In short, the book will offer a “good return” on the effort of reading and studying its contents. Lennox offers fresh insights and his unique perspective on both familiar and new topics.