In the words of the little known group, The Beatles,
“It’s been a hard day’s night, and I’d been working like a dog
It’s been a hard day’s night, I should be sleeping like a log”
Why do we work?
Some people have an altruistic view of work, motivated by the belief that they are contributing to the benefit of society. Others see working as a necessary evil; it’s what we have to do in order to provide for my family. Many Christians have been taught that the value of work doesn’t extend much beyond earning an income to support family and church, and giving opportunities for evangelism. While both these reasons are true (and incredibly important), in the Bible we find a far richer and broader picture of work.
Here are 11 reasons why our work matters
1. We are made to work
“God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky and over every living creature that moves on the ground.” (Genesis 1:26)
In the beginning work was not considered a curse, but God’s blessing. Work is tied to God’s purpose for humanity. This creation mandate has been assuaged with trouble ever since the fall, but it has not been overturned.
In fact the Bible has a negative view of people who don’t work:
“As a door turns on its hinges, so a sluggard turns on his bed.” (Proverbs 26:14)
The lazy are selfish, unproductive, and are exemplars of foolish living.
By work, I am not thinking only of paid vocations (neither does the Bible), but any and all work, including home duties, volunteer work, and study. The shape of work will change as life’s circumstances alter, but we must be careful not to denigrate another person’s work (or our own). Having said that, some work ought to be avoided, any work that is considered sinful or that is done in a sinful manner is unfitting for a Christian (and anyone for that matter).
2. Creation matters: We don’t dismiss this world as unimportant, or just a highway to heaven. Why? First of all, God made this world, therefore it has intrinsic value. Second, the incarnation affirms the significance of this world. Third, the resurrection of Jesus confirms the redemption of the physical, the the promise of a new creation.
3. Caring: Work enables us to care for and love our neighbour by providing services, produce, ideas, things that are useful to people and that improve the quality of life.
Work also enables us to care for animals, the oceans, mountains, and everything in between.
Parenting is held with incredible esteem in Scripture. To have and raise children is a joy and privilege, and an enormous responsibility. Parenting is hard work, and probably the most important work one will ever do.
4. Providing: Much work is not accompanied with income, and for that we must not negate its importance, but earning an income is considered important in Scripture so that we can avoid depending on others’ generosity, so that we provide for our family, to pay taxes, to aid the poor, and to give generously to Gospel ministry.
5. Constructing: Our work ought to be part of building a society that is safe, healthy, advancing, and improving.
6. Creating: Music, architecture, and poetry are among the many activities that are esteemed in Scripture. These are God given gifts for our enjoyment, pleasure, value, and amelioration.
7. Confronting: Police, law, medicine, armed forces, medical science, psychologists are among the many who work to confront those things that would do us harm.
8. Our work displays the character of God. We have opportunity to show people what God is like when we work by in truth, with grace, kindness, uprightness, generosity, and so on. What a wonderful way to think of our work. By the way a teacher instructs their students they can show what God is like. An electrician wiring a house can by their work ethic show people what God is like.
9. Our work testifies to the Gospel. In our work opportunities arise where we can explain the Gospel. Of course, our whole lives ought to reflect the Gospel, and speaking the Gospel remains vital today. We should avoid doing evangelism when we are supposed to be pulling teeth or auditing a company’s accounts, but opportunities to speak the good news of Christ will arise if by our lives we are walking with Christ.
Work is good but it is not enough; speaking the Gospel of Christ is God’s way of bringing redemption and reconciliation to all who believe Him.
10. Our work anticipates the new creation.
I don’t know what kind of jobs there will be in the new heavens and new earth, but when we work in love and with integrity, and serving for the good of others, we are showing people what heaven will be like.
11. Our work glorifies God.
“And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.” (Colossians 3:17)
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23)
As we return to work for a new year I want to encourage our workers at Mentone Baptist (and anyone else reading the blog) to consider prayerfully, joyfully, and expectantly, the opportunities we have in our work to honour God and to love those whom we interact with in any and all of our work.