A Person and Their Work
When God created Adam and Eve, He put them in the midst of a garden He had planted for them and gave them the task to caring for it.
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 NIV)
Work is built in
to the fabric of our lives from creation itself. We were not created to sit like slugs and do nothing. We were created to be co-laborers with God in providing for our lives and in making life something beautiful. From making music to constructing skyscrapers our work matters.
We 21st century Americans have a weird relationship with work. Many times we are bored if we have nothing to do. Yet too many times we do everything we can to get out of work, or to take shortcuts or to make work less, well, laborious.
We often put so much emphasis on our work that it becomes our identity. When asked what we do, we are likely to reply "I am a teacher," instead of "I teach children." At the same time, we likely complain about nothing in life more than about our work.
Although it was written in the context of first-century culture, Paul's advise to masters and slaves in Colossians 3 seem to me to apply to employer-employee relationships today:
Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters [employers], since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. (Colossians 3:23-24 NIV)
Masters [employers], provide your slaves [employees] with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven. (Colossians 4:1 NIV)
For a follower of Jesus Christ, work is to be done for Him, not for earthly employers nor even for ourselves. And for a faithful employer, providing what is right for the workers is imitating the Master of our own lives.
I believe this gives work even more dignity and purpose than simply providing income for our families. Work becomes our assignment. Work becomes our mission field. We serve Christ in our work and we serve Him as we work by serving our employer, our fellow workers and those who benefit from our work. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.
I might be able to do a half-hearted job at work if I'm just working for myself. I am motivated to do my very best at work if I'm working for Jesus. I might think it's okay to just do the minimum to collect my pay if work is just getting a paycheck. I am motivated to do the very best I can if work is a way of honoring Christ.
And by the way, even if one is a child without a job, an unemployed adult, or a retired senior citizen, there is always work to do, isn't there? If something is worth doing, it's worth doing right. That includes mowing the lawn, doing the dishes or cleaning the toilet. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord.
I hope you are having a great Labor Day weekend. And I hope we all return to work on Tuesday (or tomorrow if you work in retail or food service or another essential job and do not have Labor Day off) with a new and renewed determination to work for the Lord, and to honor Him in our work.
Happy Labor Day, all.