I want you to think about your job…
When was the last time you enjoyed work? Was it today? Yesterday? Months ago? Years? Working hard and doing well at our job no matter how mundane it can be may sound like a tall order. Customers seem to always be right no matter how much we plead to our bosses. The supply seems to never meet the demand. We sweat and toil for tips in our service. Some of us make goods or provide speeches and sermons and may never see the fruit of our labor. And others, who have seen too much fruit may take advantage of others because of it.
The Difficulty of Working Hard
I’ve been on a number of “mission trips” in the heat of the summer. I’ve been a part of building projects: fences for a older lady in Gloversville, New York where the heat would make New Orleans look like a snow day, creating a stair case going down into a basement in the humid hills of Columbus Ohio, or even helping with siding on a house in that same Gloversville trip. Work can be grueling and exhausting. And of course we work. every single day to make a living, to put food on our tables, and to take care of our loved ones.
A lot of times, it seems that our work is in vain. Going into a pizza kitchen on a Saturday morning in the Louisiana Heat with a conveyer oven running all day, only to leave and do it all over again can get incredibly… mundane and exhausting. And it seems that our culture also disdains the idea of working hard… Even if the wage is appropriate.
But What if Work is Worth More Than a Penny?
What if our work is worth more than the 15/hour we get every 2 weeks, or the blood sweat and tears of a Friday Night Pizza Rush that has us staying behind in the kitchen an extra 3 hours after the shift is supposed to be over?
Perhaps there is a different view for us to ponder over. In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth. He created the fish of the sea. He created the plants and the animals. And He created us. And to us he bestowed a certain privilege. He gave to us His image. We are gendered, we are able to reason, we are able to choose a course of action and do not rely on pure instinct, and of course we are given directions. “Be Fruitful and Multiply.” “Subdue the Earth.”
In others words…. “Work.”
Work as Worship
Our work, it may seem, has been bestowed upon us by God as a good and worthwhile responsibility. We are to steward and co-rule over creation with the Lord and are to subdue the earth, it’s animals, and it’s plants. That was…and is… on of our tasks. And it is a good task indeed.
Think of this. Do you have a garden? Do you have plants? Or pets? How do you take care of these things? Do you let them stay in the freezing cold of winterous night? Have you refused to feed your pet in a act of care or affection? Do keep them out of the sunlight?
The answer to all of these questions, hopefully, is a resounding “No”. We tame the plants and our animals because we know it is best for them. It is the work of our hands and our call to steward creation that leads us to take care of these things. Good work, as it is a part of God’s purpose for us, is an act of worship. And as we go to the Scriptures. We see a healthy understanding of what work should look like.
Proverbs: Work is Simply Beneficial
For a minute, let’s dive into the Book of Proverbs and see what some of the wisdom literature of Israel tells us:
He who gathers in the summer is a prudent son, but he who sleeps in harvest is a son who brings shame” – Proverbs 10:5
“In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty” – Provers 14:23
“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” – Proverbs 18:9
“Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” – Proverbs 22:29
What we see.
In the sampling of verses above (there are others) we see the practical importance of work. We see that we should seek to be skillful in what we do whether it’s leading hundreds of people, owning a business, picking up garbage, or answering phones for an insurance company. In all we do, we should seek to do it with excellence.
We aren’t doing this simply for ourselves. We are working for someone greater than us and to an end that is better. Check out what the New Testament says about good work.
Work in the New Testament
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord, and not for men…” – Colossians 3:23
“Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” – Ephesians 4:28
“Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are to serve the Lord Christ.” – Colossians 3:22-24
“And to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one.” – 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
What we See
In the sample above we see the purpose of working well. First, it is a way of getting out of situations that are sinful. I pray for a day when the homeless community of which I served for so long, and am continuing to try to serve, is able to work for what they gain. I also pray for the day when a system is in place that can adequately train and equip those in need to work in order to supply for themselves. This may seem harsh, but I am simply wishing for a way to supply others with the God-given call to humanity: “Subdue the earth”. More can be said on this, but I pray you can read my heart in this.
Second, we see that our work, whether we are working out of debt, working to put food on the table, working for a corrupt boss, or even working as slave (yeah, that’s not comfortable) should be done as if we are working for the Lord. Our type of work should be different. We are worshiping Jesus with our work as Christ followers as we do our jobs well. And as 1 Thessalonians shows us, we are working well to be good witnesses to those around us.
While more can be said, I think we can come to a couple of conclusions. Our work is purposeful. As Christians, we are working because we understand that that God made us to work. (He didn’t necessarily create the toil and the sweat, that was curse of the fall. We can still understand that work is not always fun. I get that.) But our way of work is purposed for being obedient to the Lord. We work well because outsiders need the witness. Our way of work is different because we have the joy of the Lord with us, knowing that our toil is not in vain, that God is accomplishing His purposes through us, and because we know that a New Heaven and New Earth is promised by the conquering King.
For More By the Thinking Theist:
If you have a moment, check out this link to go to my home page: HOME PAGE LINK
Or, check out this link to see the series “God’s Character and Why It Matters”: God’s Character
When you’re able, check out this link to go to the series, “WDJD: What Did Jesus Do?”: What Did Jesus Do?