Why then do I work?
Pastor Benny Ho // January 16, 2018, 5:00 am
Photo by Guilherme Cunha on Unsplash
Where do the majority of Christ followers spend a majority of their time interacting with a majority of the lost world? It is not in the church or even the neighbourhood, but it is in the workplace.
Work is so much a part of our lives that we must be able to find meaning and fulfilment in our work. After all, we spend almost 40% of our waking hours at work. This is especially true as we evolve into a society that draws its source of identity from our vocation.
With this as a backdrop, we must derive a biblical theology of work. If getting a pay cheque is only an outcome but not the primary reason for working, then what is?
I can think of at least four Biblical reasons for working:
- Work is a divine command.
- Work is a means to my personal growth.
- Work is a platform for ministry.
- Work is a vehicle to transform society.
We will look at the first reason today:
Work is a divine command
Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
Work existed before the entrance of sin into this world. It was not the result of Adam’s fall into sin. But God in His infinite wisdom gave us work as something to meaningfully occupy our days. Work was commanded by God for man’s good.
As Christians, our work should give us a sense of fulfilment and significance. It should enhance the image of God in us.
In the Old Testament, Exodus 34:21: “You shall work six days but on the seventh day you shall rest. Even during ploughing time and harvest you shall rest.”
“You shall work six days …” This is a command, not a choice.
In the light of work being a command from God, our goal must be to approach our work with a spirit of excellence because God deserves our best! As the Christian mystic Oswald Chambers put it: “My utmost for His highest.”
Work is part of the image of God in man. That is why God Himself is a worker.
Genesis 2:2: “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work. And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”
It was only after sin came into the world that work degenerated into “toil”.
When sin came into the world, not only did man fall but creation fell too. The curse of sin came upon the earth and now thorns and thistles, earthquakes and hurricanes have become part of the consequence of creation’s fall.
Now man can only eat the fruit of the land through the sweat of his brow and the toil of his labour. Work has deteriorated into toil.
Genesis 3:17: “To Adam He said, ‘Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”
The good news is that when Jesus died on the Cross, He not only redeemed mankind from our sin but He also restored the purpose of our work.
Therefore, as Christians, our work today should give us a sense of fulfilment and significance. It should enhance the image of God in us.
And if work is from God, we want to do it with a right attitude. And if we do our work well, promotion will come from the Lord, not by our own striving.
Psalm 75:6-7: “No one from the east or the west or from the desert can exalt a man. But it is God who judges; He brings one down, He exalts another.”
There are two ways to get to the top: One is to focus on excelling for God; the other is to strive through our self-effort.
I would rather focus on pleasing the Lord by obeying His command to work with a spirit of excellence than to strive to ascend the ladder of success through my own self-effort.
One thing I have learnt is that one day with God’s favour is better than 10 days of my own labour!
My first biblical reason for working is because my work is a divine command and therefore I will work with all my heart and with a spirit of excellence because my God deserves my very best!
I will develop this idea of working with a spirit of excellence tomorrow. See you then!
Reflection and Discussion
1. “Work was commanded by God for man’s good.” Do you agree? How so?
2. Read Genesis 3:17. What was the result of man’s disobedience?
3. What is the difference between competence and excellence?
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