September 5, 2023
What is work? Work is defined as 1) an activity a person engages in regularly to earn a livelihood; 2) a specific task, duty, function, or assignment often being part or phase of some larger activity.
And work is a good thing. Work happened before the Fall. It’s not a result of sin. It is part of God’s original design for humanity. The word cultivate in Genesis 2:15 is actually the Hebrew word for work or service. God put Adam in the garden of Eden to work it and to care for it.
Think about this – work is what we were created for.
When God created people, He gave them good work to do. Why? He knew it was the way they would be able to experience God's goodness and reflect His image by caring for the world and each other. When we work, we resemble Him. Work is not God's way of punishing us. In fact, He blesses us with the ability to work so that we can honor Him.
The writer of Ecclesiastes says it like this: "And it is a good thing to receive wealth from God and the good health to enjoy it. To enjoy your work… this is indeed a gift from God." Ecclesiastes 5:19 NLT
“In the beginning God created…” work (Genesis 1:1). The Bible tells us that God Himself worked for six days and that God gave Adam and Eve work to do in caring for the animals and Garden of Eden. It was wonderful and fulfilling. God’s plan for work was never that it would be hard, and we would hate it. He wanted us to find fulfillment. “Work” is not a four-letter word. Work is a gift. Although sin has made work more difficult (Genesis 3:17-19), God created work as good. In its right form, work still brings fulfillment, a sense of purpose, and joy.
Even this side of the Fall God declares hard work to be wise and laziness to be foolish (Proverbs 6:6-11). Those who work will have abundant food and those who “chase fantasies” will lack (Proverbs 28:19). God wired us to work. He created us with a need to invest ourselves in something. To create. To form. To produce. And the benefits are boundless. Not only do we reap the fruit of our labor and earn our keep, but we also experience a sense of fulfillment, purpose, and joy. Yep. When I work and get something accomplished, I feel great. Even a child loves it and wants to help us work. God really knew what He was doing. Work. It’s a good, God thing.
The Bible has a lot to say about work and our attitude toward it. This Labor Day, here are a few encouraging thoughts:
1. God is a God of work.
Sometimes we forget that in the first verse of Scripture God was at work. He created the heavens and the earth and everything in it in six days and rested on day seven. He declared that the things He made were very good. God’s working for six days and resting on the seventh was a pattern the people of Israel were to follow (Exodus 20:11, 31).
2. God created us to work.
In Genesis 1:26–28 man was given responsibility to care for creation. Again, after the flood, man was told to restore the earth (Genesis 9:1, 7). Man’s life was never intended to be one of laziness but of fulfilling work.
3. The fall is what made work difficult.
Sometimes we think WORK is a result of the fall, but not so. The fall made our work more difficult, and because we are fallen people, it’s easy for us to find ways to not do the work and resent it (Genesis 3:17-19). In our world, even in Christian culture, this fallenness shapes our attitude toward work. Fulfilment is often seen as an escape from work (vacations, days off, early retirement, winning the lottery). Then there are many others who make work the center of their lives and their work becomes a sort of idol – their means of fulfillment. Scripture teaches that we should work with all of our heart as to the Lord (Colossians 3:23) rather than being motivated by our own fulfilment.
4. Work is actually worship.
Adam’s work in the Garden was a way for him to worship God. The Hebrew words in Genesis 2:15 for “tend” and “keep” are used elsewhere for man’s worship of God (Exodus 8:1, 20, 9:1, 13) and of his obedience to God’s Word (Genesis 17:9; 18:19). Adam, therefore, was put in the garden to worship God by “tending” and “keeping” it. As Christians, in whatever we do, we are called to do it to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
5. Jesus worked.
Jesus not only showed us that physical work was necessary and good (Mark 6:3), He also modelled for us an attitude of work by fulfilling the work He was called to do (John 9:4, 10:37, 17:4). The first Adam made work difficult, but the last Adam (as Jesus is called) through His work on the Cross changes our attitude toward work so that we can bring glory and honor to the Lord.
We don’t work for salvation – it’s a true gift. But we work WITH God to honor and glorify Him, serve His world, and find the personal satisfaction He has for us. It makes our days off and the gifts God gives us to refresh ourselves even more satisfying.
So, this Labor Day, enjoy the gift of any time off you may have. If you are working on this day, find some time later to refresh. For all of us, let’s thank God for the gift of work. It’s one of His many good gifts.