'Work is a gift from God'
MANY PEOPLE, including Christians, struggle with the concept of work. For some, it is very utilitarian: 'I owe, I owe so off to work I go.' For others, it is almost idolatrous; how we get our self-worth.
Neither of these views is helpful nor satisfying. Unfortunately, sometimes the Church has very little to say about work, although one third of many of our lives is spent working. But, the Bible does have a lot to say about work and the issues related to it.
So what should be the proper view of work? Is it a secular or a sacred thing? If you go back in history, the Jews viewed work as a secular thing. They saw it merely as a common, second-class effort, whereas religious duties were first-class, sacred, and divine.
sustenance and growth
This is such a faulty and shallow view of work and is far from the truth! Where would the sustenance and growth of a nation come from if there were not people who work? The blessing of God spoken about in Deuteronomy 28 speaks more directly to persons employed in commercial enterprises. "1: If you fully obey the Lord your God ... 2: All these blessings will come upon you ... 3: You will be blessed in the city and blessed in the country ... ."
Work is from God. As a matter of fact, God Himself works, and He is the greatest worker in the universe. If God ever took a day off, we'd all be done. Scripture talks about the work of God; we see this in His creation, preservation, providence, miracles and in His judgment and redemption.
Furthermore, Jesus is a worker. He said it Himself in John 9:4, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me." And in John 5:17, He said, "My Father is working still and I am working."
Therefore, you cannot have a low view of work when you understand that Jesus is a worker. And since we are made in the image and likeness of God ... if God is a worker, so are we. Genesis 1 "26: Then God said, "Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air...over all the earth ... ."
What does it mean to be created in the image of God? It means that man is given dominion and authority; he is given the responsibility to care of and to use all the rest of the creation.
Adam's first instruction
The first thing that God instructed Adam to do after the creation was to work: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it." Genesis 2:15.
You have to look at work as a gift from God. The writer of Ecclesiastes says it: "And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work ... this is indeed a gift from God." Ecclesiastes 5:19.
It is not some kind of a sub-standard activity which is meant to do nothing, but finance pleasure. It is God's gift and, for us, it is a means of glorifying God; preventing us from idleness; providing for the needs of our lives and; allowing us to serve mankind.
That is why the scripture exhorts us, "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as though you were working for the Lord and not for people." Colossians 3:23.
Work should not lose its intrinsic value. It is not simply a means to pay your debts. It is not simply a way to fund your pleasure. It is, in itself, valuable. It is a gift from God.
- Dwight Fletcher is pastor of Transformed Life Church. Send feedback to firstname.lastname@example.org.