How’s work going?
A simple question with typically a simple answer: “Good. Alright. Not bad today.” Whether it’s true or not, that’s the response we give to our friends and family members that ask daily, weekly, or at the awkward Thanksgiving lunch.
But how is work really going? Is it really good, terrible, wallowing in mediocrity? I’m SO guilty of doing this, but sometimes I think the way we answer simple questions doesn’t do us or the askers any good. Now, I’m not saying give a 70-minute synopsis of your work life and bore everyone else as they dine on the honey ham. But why, when it comes to one of the most time-consuming, influential areas of our lives do we sweep how it’s really going under the rug?
It’s really clear in scripture what work is and how we’re supposed to do it. However, our human nature and sometimes the humans we work with make it difficult for us to live that out. God designed work a certain way for a certain purpose, and if we don’t understand what that is, we may miss the whole point. While I haven’t been working for too long and am definitely not an expert, I can say that I’ve been given wise, scripture-based advice and models from others around me. A friend, leader, and hard worker once gave me seven biblical truths* about work, and I’d like to share them with you.
- God started work and working.
Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done. (Genesis 2:1-3)
2. Man was made to work for God even before sin entered the world.
Now no shrub had yet appeared on the earth and no plant had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no one to work the ground, but streams came up from the earth and watered the whole surface of the ground.(Genesis 2:5-6)
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)
3. Human depravity caused pain and labor to be added to work (ex: slavery, trafficking, hardship).
- Work was intended to be a blessing, but it is now a burden. We see injustice in work all over the world.
To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat from it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. (Genesis 3:17)
What do people gain from all their labors at which they toil under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3)
Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under uhe sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who has not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.(Ecclesiastes 2:18-23)
4. God continues to work despite our sin nature. The greatest work that God completed was Jesus Christ dying on the cross.
“It is finished” = The ultimate work of the sacrifice was done.
For I have come down from heaven, not to do My own will, but the will of Him who sent Me. “This is the will of Him who sent Me, that of all that He has given Me I lose nothing, but raise it up on the last day. “For this is the will of My Father, that everyone who beholds the Son and believes in Him will have eternal life, and I Myself will raise him up on the last day.” (John 6:38)
When he had received the drink, Jesus said, “It is finished.”With that, he bowed his head and gave up his spirit. (John 19:30)
5. Our coming to faith in Jesus is a result of the work of the cross, not our toil.
- We have to rely on the completed work of Christ in all of our struggles, victories, and growth. The work He did saved us forever and sanctifies us daily.
For by grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we wouldwalk in them. (Ephesians 2:8-9)
6. In response to Christ’s work, we are commanded and invited to work for Him.
- He doesn’t need us, but He wants to use us for His glory.
- Only in Christ does our work matter because only in Him does it have an eternal purpose.
Very truly I tell you, whoever believes in me will do the works I have been doing, and they will do even greater things than these, because I am going to the Father. (John 14:12)
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters…(Colossians 3:23)
7. Our eternal state will be one of happy, worshipful work.
- There is no truer form of worship than to work for Christ.
- Heaven will be work that forever satisfies us.
He will judge between the nations and will settle disputesfor many peoples. They will beat their swords into plowshares and their spears into pruning hooks. Nation will not take up sword against nation, nor will they train for war anymore. (Isaiah 2:4)
They will build houses and inhabit them; they will also plant vineyards and eat their fruit. they will not build and another inhabit, they will not plant and another eat; for as the lifetime of a tree, so will be the days of My people, and My chosen ones will wear out the work of their hands. They will not labor in vain, or bear children for calamity; for they are the offspring of those blessed by the LORD, and their descendants with them.(Isaiah 65:21-23)
I hope this encourages you as much as it encourages me. Every day we get to join in on the redemptive work of Christ to prepare ourselves for the fruitful work of heaven. Let’s work for the Lord today, no matter what our job title is.
- How can you (as a stay at home parent, general manager, accountant, teacher, nutritionist, minister, fill in the blank) work for the Lord?
- Have you prayed and asked God to show you what it is He wants you to do for Him, and have you fully surrendered to whatever that may be? (Even if it means walking across the office to invite a non-believer to lunch or quitting your job because you know it’s not where God wants you to be?)
- Is the way you work and talk about your work now preparing you for the worshipful work of heaven?
- Do you take heart (on the good and bad days) that your work can have purpose if you’ve surrendered to Christ?
- Do you remember and thank God often for the work He has done in your life in saving and changing you?
*Adapted from Kyle Watter’s devotional on work on March 3, 2019*