DEVOTIONAL: What Does The Bible Say About Work?

The first Monday of September is a US national holiday to honor workers called Labor Day. Many see work as a curse or drag, a 40-year burden that sucks up most of your time, energy and attention between graduation from school as a young adult until retirement as a senior citizen. Some claim “work” is a four-letter word and they live by the philosophy found on the bumper sticker: “I OWE, I OWE, SO OFF TO WORK I GO.” In contrast to negative messages from our culture, however, the Bible teaches much about work, its value, and how to approach it.

(1) God was the first worker. According to the first verse of the Bible, we see that the first worker was God, as God created everything. “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth.” (Gen. 1:1)

(2) God delegated jobs to people. In keeping with the idea that “God made man in his own image,” (Gen. 1:27), we see the Lord put Adam in charge of managing the Garden of Eden. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Gen. 2:15 NIV) Some claim God is the first entrepreneur. By that they mean, rather than God doing all the individual tasks Himself, He instead set up a self-perpetuating system by which humans, animals, and plants continually grow, reproduce, and expand.

(3) God gives us insights and skills by which we can earn an income to provide for ourselves and our families and have extra to give away. Deuteronomy 8:18 says “But remember the Lord your God, for it is He who gives you the ability to produce wealth.” (NIV)

(4) We should give our best effort at work and make the most of the opportunities we have now. “Whatever you do, do well. For when you go to the grave, there will be no work or planning or knowledge or wisdom.” (Ecclesiastes 9:10 NLT)

(5) Although work is noble, don’t be a workaholic. “On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work.” (Gen. 2:2) Since God is omnipotent, the idea is not that God needed a breather after six days of creation, but rather He set an example for us to schedule periodic days of R and R.

(6) Rather than wear yourself out doing everything alone, find a parter or a team to delegate to. Two are better than one, because they have a good return for their labor: If either of them falls down, one can help the other up. But pity anyone who falls and has no one to help them up.” (Eccl. 4:9,10 NIV)

The early Reformers believed that any job is sacred, as long as it is done to one’s best ability and conducted with an attitude to please God. In that way, jobs like baker or farmer are just as “holy” as those of priest or missionary, because any honest profession can meet needs, glorify God, and make your little corner of the world a better place. In fact, that is where we get the word “vocation.” Since “vocal” means “voice,” the idea is, our job is not just a dead-end time-waster to occupy our best years, but rather is a “calling from God” and is thus full of dignity and meaning.

The word for you is: Keep a positive mindset about work!

S.G.D/S.D.G.

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