Looking At Work Differently

Do you think Jesus made high quality furniture? We know Jesus as the Messiah, but much of His life was spent as a carpenter, which goes to show that even the Son of God was not above work. God worked as well. Psalm 8:3 reads:

When I consider Your heavens, the work of your fingers,
The moon and the stars, which You have ordained.

Psalm 104:24 states:

O Lord, how many are Your works!
In wisdom You have made them all;
The earth is full of Your possessions.

The Bible opens with the creation account, detailing for us the handiwork of God as He labored for six days and rested on the seventh.

Jesus worked. God worked. And, throughout the Bible, we find numerous examples of God’s people working. Whether it was building the temple or rebuilding Jerusalem’s walls, God commissioned His people to work. Some claim that work is a curse. They point to the fall of man to support this claim. In Genesis 3:17-19 it reads:

Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’;
Cursed is the ground because of you;
In toil you will eat of it
All the days of your life.
“Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you;
And you will eat the plants of the field;
By the sweat of your face
You will eat bread,
Till you return to the ground,
Because from it you were taken;
For you are dust,
And to dust you shall return.”

Before we settle on the conclusion that all work is a curse, we need to consider what is written in Genesis Chapter 2:15 as well.

Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

Work was a part of man’s existence from the very beginning. We were hard-wired to work. We were created to work. It’s not that work is a curse, although you might feel like it at times; it’s that work intensified after the fall of man. We could say that work got harder because of sin. Like everything else that God created in the beginning, the fact that Adam would labor in the garden was a good thing. However, because of sin, something designed to be good became difficult.

We observe the same thing today. Work can still be difficult. Some, however, have very rewarding and fulfilling jobs. I love my job. But a love for work can make things difficult as well. We can work so hard at our job that it becomes an idol. We can worship work. We bow down to a career in diligent pursuit of the American Dream. We become the standard-bearer for our field. We make a lot of money and receive massive notoriety. We climb the ladder of success only to reach the top and find that our ladder was leaning against the wrong building. What if we looked at work differently? What if we saw our work as God’s work?

Notice what Paul writes in Colossians 3:22-24.

Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 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.

Paul is speaking of a master-slave relationship; however, there are some vital principles pertaining to one’s work that we can glean from this passage. Consider the phrase, “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” The word heartily in the original language means, “out of the soul.” It’s as if Paul is saying, “Let your work come from the soul.” Don’t just do the bare minimum. Do your best. Work for the real Master. The true CEO, the real boss is God. Make Him proud by working hard.

Our work matters to God, and God matters to our work. What if we allowed our faith to shape our work?

• Why work hard at our job? Is it to earn a paycheck? Is it to climb the corporate ladder? Or is it so I can make money to give to those in need? What if it was to be salt and light in the world?

• Why work hard at school? Is it so I can get a degree? What if it was for the purpose of using that degree to help others in my chosen field of endeavor? What if I began looking at my job as a ministry, rather than a money maker?

• Why work hard at parenting? Is it to raise good kids? What if it was to raise them for the purpose of making an impact for the kingdom? What if we sought to raise our kids to be preachers, missionaries, Bible class teachers, deacons, and elders?

• Why work hard at church? Is it because I’m supposed to? Is it so I can be recognized? Is it so I can feel better about myself? Or is it so I can continue the work of Jesus in a world that so desperately needs Him? Is it because it’s a lifestyle, and not merely something I feel obligated to do?

Someone once stated it like this:

• If you’re an accountant, you crunch the numbers as if you’re doing Jesus’ tax returns.
• If you’re a car salesman, you act as if you’re selling a car to Jesus.
• If you’re a construction manager, you act as if it’s Jesus’ house you’re building.
• If you’re a teacher, then Jesus is one of your students.
• If you’re a sanitation worker, you pick up every last piece of garbage because it’s Jesus’
streets you’re keeping clean.
• If you’re a waiter, you’re not working for tips. You’re going the extra mile because Jesus is
your customer.

God is your boss; therefore, think of your career or your profession in terms of God-shaped work. You may spend a lifetime building an empire of dirt. You may gain riches, fame, power, and security, but the question becomes: Is God impressed? Our identity is not found in what we do. Our identity should be wrapped up in who we are; who we belong to. The work we do, no matter how difficult, mundane, pleasurable, or seemingly insignificant, should be about making God proud.

Imagine the difference we could make if all Christians allowed their work to be shaped by God. What if we approached everything in life, including our work, as a ministry? What could we accomplish for the kingdom if we made our work about pleasing the divine BOSS?

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