Dear Church Family,
Is work a good thing? Many would argue the answer depends on compensation, time commitment, responsibilities, and satisfaction level. Others give their answer through their evasion of work by either refusing to work altogether or being off task when they’re supposed to be working. Our federal government’s Department of Labor has answered this way, “Labor Day, the first Monday in September, is a creation of the labor movement and is dedicated to the social and economic achievements of American workers. It constitutes a yearly national tribute to the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country.” In other words, the upcoming national holiday was created to recognize and celebrate the goodness of work.
Did you know the Bible gives the definitive answer to this question? In Genesis 2:15 we’re told, “The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Notice, this is found in Genesis 2 before sin entered the world through Adam and Eve’s disobedience in Genesis 3. God designed those He created as His representatives on earth to work because He works. As He created it, work is a good thing.
Now just to be clear, Genesis 3 did happen. Adam chose to work for himself instead of for God, so consequently, God cursed Adam’s work. We see this in Genesis 3:17-19 where God addressed Adam saying, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.” That means even though work as created by God is good, because of sin, it is no longer always easy and enjoyable.
However, this doesn’t mean that we should abandon work. The Bible teaches we were created to do everything we do to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31). This qualification prohibits us from pursuing vocations or careers that do not bring God glory because they are contrary to His Word and character. But, though there are all sorts of factors requiring wisdom and discernment, we are able to do whatever else insofar as we are able to work in good faith to the glory of God. Paul writes in Colossians 3:23-24, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
We weren’t put on this earth to be idle (2 Thessalonians 3:6-15). We were put here to glorify our Creator by imitating Him for the good of all. By following His path of work for our lives, we glorify Him by enduring in our labors—though they often come at great cost to us. As “those who have believed in God, [we must] be careful to devote [ourselves] to good works. These things are excellent and profitable for people” (Titus 3:8). In the words of the Protestant reformer, Martin Luther, “God does not need our good works; our neighbor does.” So then, let’s rightly esteem work as God’s gift and labor to glorify Him as we work for the good of others.