We are all called to work. I have spent a good portion of my life studying work, in addition to working. As a young boy, my Dad would often take me to his work, especially on Saturday mornings when he made his rounds to see how things were going at the pottery plant he worked at and managed, first as head over the machine maintenance department and then over the whole plant operations. I earned a graduate degree emphasing all aspects of work, including leadership and management. Recently, our men’s ministry spent several months focusing on how we can bear witness to God through our work or wherever we find ourselves. Currently, in addition to other work I do, I serve as a workplace chaplain ministering to people performing their jobs in a variety of different work settings.
So, as you can see, work is a subject that is a particular interest to me, as I’m sure it is to you. As we celebrate the Labor Day holiday, I wanted to take a moment to explore how God views work and how we can glorify the Lord through the work we do.
God called us to work before the Fall. He commanded Adam to till the ground and take care of the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:15). How we work certainly is different for each of us. People work in businesses, in the home, in schools, in hospitals, as teachers and as students. Everybody works for a living.
The big difference in the work we do is pay. Some people don’t get paid money at all. Some folks aren’t paid much. Other people profit a lot from the work they do. Some people volunteer, offering their time and energy at no charge. Others get remimbursed for the time and effort they put into their work.
God is a God of work. Scripture reminds us that the Lord is always at work. Our God is active in His creation, never sleeping nor slumbering (Psalm 121:4). There are a number of passages, especially in the Gospels, where Jesus teaches His disciples about the value and reward of work not only here on Earth, but also in Heaven. Work is a way that we imitate the Lord and honor Him.
How, then, do we work in such a way that God is glorified?
The Apostle Paul reminds us to that as believers we are to be Spirit-filled. That includes our marriages, our homes, and our workplaces. Our workplaces our a place of worship through which we honor and glorify God, regardless of the work environment we find ourselves in.
Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.
1 Corinthians 10:31 (NASB)
The Christian theologian and writer John Stott says this about work:
“It is possible for the housewife to cook a meal as if Jesus Christ were going to eat it, or to spring-clean the house as if Jesus Christ were to be the honoured guest. It is possible for teachers to educate children, for doctors to treat patients and nurses to care for them, for solicitors to help clients, shop assistants to serve customers, accountants to audit books and secretaries to type letters as if in each case they were serving Jesus Christ.”
Work matters to God. How we work, our work ethic, and our attitude toward our work all matter to God. Our work ethic and our attitude at work and about our work are ways that we glorify and honor God. You don’t have to be a pastor or a missionary to work for the Lord. You can simply bloom where you are planted, working with all your might to honor and glorify the Lord in all that we do, including the job we get paid to do as well as those where we don’t get paid at all.
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.
Colossians 3:24-24 (NASB)
How we approach our work speaks volumes about what we believe about God and how we view the Lord and what He has done for us. We must remember that in our work it is Jesus Christ whom we are serving, not our fellow human beings.
Know that you are loved.
Have a great Labor Day!
Love this blog? Then be sure to share it with your family, friends, and community!
The Archaelogical Study Bible (2005). Zondervan. Grand Rapids.
Getz, Gene (2011) Life Essentials Study Bible. Holman Bible Publishers. Nashville.
Stott, J. R. W. (1979). God’s new society: the message of Ephesians (p. 250). Downers Grove, IL: InterVarsity Press.