If you were suddenly to inherit a fortune from a long-lost relative, perhaps $100 million – would you quit your job? Or is your work so important you would want to carry on, maybe start your own business? Do you thank God for Mondays when you can start the working week? Do you look forward to putting your heart into the next project, seeing the next client, meeting the next deadline?
The bible tells us that God works and we see this in the days of creation. (Genesis 1:11–13) God worked creatively for six days and then took a break. God’s work was good, very good. Work is God’s idea! Work is an expression of creativity which produces something good.
God made work part of our human experience. “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) God gave humanity valuable work to do. It is really interesting that one of the first things Adam and God did was to work together. As God created animals he brought them to Adam so Adam could name them. Adam is the world’s first zoologist.
Sadly, Adam and Eve disobeyed God and work became painful toil. (Genesis 3:17–19) Work became more of a burden than a blessing.
The New Testament gives us different ways of looking at our work. We are taught to work wholeheartedly as if we were serving Jesus, not men. (Colossians 3:17; Ephesians 6:7–8). This transforms our attitude to our work and work place. We are also encouraged to do useful work so we can help others who may be in need (Ephesians 4:28). Real work is useful work, a real job that God values. These verses help us to see that our work or role in life is lifted and transformed as we do all these things in Jesus’ name, and giving thanks to God.
Your work, whatever it is, can make the world a better place. You might help build homes, raise children, write poems or computer code, work in forestry, teaching, make pancakes or whatever it is you do. Paul uses the image of a body made of different parts to underline the need for people to have different roles in the life of the church. (1 Corinthians 12:14–20) These principles can also be applied to our roles in life. If everyone did the same work, perhaps everyone being an accountant, then society would flounder because there were no farmers to grow food, no one to teach or build … every task is needed to help our community function. I find it interesting to reflect on the idea that Jesus spent more of his earthly life in the carpenter’s workshop than on the road with his disciples, and I wonder what that says about the value of work.
How would your approach to work change if you kept in mind you were doing it as to the Lord?
Is there something that might help foster a better relationship among your workmates, colleagues or team, if you brought godly characteristics to the task?
A helpful resource: Transforming Work (LICC)
Rev John Malcolm