God and Work
Our Jobs are a Gift from God
Today work is almost seen as a necessary evil. Many people don't like their job, and some don't see their jobs as meaningful. The Bible, on the other hand, sees work as something that God Himself does, and that He has created humanity to do as well. Furthermore, if we are Christians, we should never separate our lives into the secular and the sacred. Everything that we do is to be done to the glory of God. That includes the work that He has given us to do. He has given us work to provide for ourselves, our families, and for people in need. At the same time, it contributes to the society in which we live. As each of us does our part, living in a society is made possible.
I. Our God is a Worker
Most people don't think that the God of the universe Himself is a worker. Our Lord Jesus said:
"My Father is working until now, and I am working" (John 5:17).
From the very beginning we see God as a worker. In Genesis chapters 1 and 2 it tells us of God creating the universe. In Genesis 2:2 it says:
"And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had made; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had made."
Even though God rested from His work of creation, He continues to work to this very day. He continues to make the sun to rise, the grass to grow, and the stars to shine. It is said of the Lord Jesus that it was by Him that the Father made the worlds. It further tells us:
"Who being the brightness of His glory, and the express image of His person, and upholds all things by the word of His power...." (1:3).
And in the book of Colossians it says of Jesus:
"And He is before all things, and by Him all things are held together" (1:17).
The truth is, because He holds it all together, if God were to stop working and turn His back on this universe only for a second, it would cease to exist.
II. God created Man to Be a Worker
Man was created in the image of God (Genesis 1:26,27). Among other things, this means that man was created to be a worker. From the very beginning the Lord gave Adam a job. He was to fill the earth and subdue it. And he was to have dominion over God's creation. (Genesis 1:28). Further, Adam was to tend the Garden that he was placed in. He was to cultivate and keep it (Genesis 2:15).
Today, it is almost as though we see work as part of the fall of man. That isn't true. Work was part of the original creation. However, hard labor and toil at the sweat of your brow, and the struggle for survival is what Adam's sin caused. In Genesis 3:17-19 it is said of God:
"And unto Adam He said, "Because you have hearkened unto the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree, of which I commanded you, saying, You shall not eat of it: cursed is the ground for your sake; in sorrow you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth to you; and you shall eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, until you return to the ground; for out of it were you taken: for dust you are, and to the dust you shall return."
Man's sin took what was supposed to be good and pleasant, and caused it to be toilsome labor and drudgery.
III. Jesus Was a Worker and Chose Workers
Today, God's people are to continue to work to provide for themselves and others. It is interesting that our Lord Jesus was a carpenter, and the son of a carpenter (Mark 6:3). He chose twelve apostles. Peter, Andrew, James and John, were fishermen. One apostle, Matthew, was a tax collector. The Bible doesn't say what the others did for a living, except for Paul, who was a tent maker. However, you can be sure that they had a job.
Jesus told His apostles that they were not to go from house to house begging. He wanted them to earn their keep. He told them in Luke 10:7 that:
"....the laborer is worthy of his wages"
Also, it is fascinating that from the very beginning of Jesus' time on this earth, his birth was first announced to working men. They were shepherds, keeping watch over their flock by night (Luke 2:8).
IV. God's People Are to Remain Workers
According to Paul, God's people are to remain workers.
Paul was dealing with some people in Thessolonica who were disorderly and refused to work. He said to them:
"For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat."
And in Ephesus, to those who were formerly thieves, he said this:
"Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need."
V. God's People are God-Pleasers, Not Men-Pleasers
Paul talks about the master-slave relationship, which can be equated to the employer-employee relationship today. To the slave he says:
"Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eye service, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ" (Colossians 3:22-24).
This doesn't leave out the master, or employer. To them he says:
"Masters, give to your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that you also have a master in heaven" (Colossians 4:1).
Today we're living in an almost adversarial relationship between employer and employee. The employer tries to get the cheapest labor possible, and the employee tries to get as many perks for as little work as possible. This is not the biblical view. The employer is supposed to do all that he can to see that his employees are taken care of, and the employees are to do the best job possible for their boss. And all of this is to please God and not men (Colossians 3:17).
It all boils down to the fact that God cares about our whole life. What we do Monday through Saturday is just as important as what we do on Sunday. And we cannot claim to be followers of Jesus Christ if we don't understand the true importance of work in our lives. Whether we are an employer, or an employee, we have God to answer to some day if we don't do the best job possible when working.
We need to be thankful for the health that God has given us, making it possible to work to support ourselves, our families, and to help others in need. Also, we have to do all our work as if God were our boss; because ultimately, He is! May God be pleased with the jobs that we do for Him.