GOD’S VIEW ON WORK

God put man in the garden to work it and take care of it. ” – Genesis 2:15

Work has been part of God’s plan from day one and it was essential to the “good” world He initially created. Only as a result of the fall did work become “painful” to the point that “Your family will eat by the sweat of your brow.” (Genesis 3:17,19

It should come as no surprise then that work feels difficult at times. There are many days when I would rather stay home than go to the office but I find great comfort in knowing that from the beginning work has been part of God‘s good and perfect plan for my life. Chuck Colson, former special advisor to the President, hits the nail on the head with this statement:

As agents of God’s common grace, we are called to help sustain and renew his creation, to uphold the created institutions of family and society, to pursue science and scholarship, to create works of art and beauty, and to heal and help those suffering from the results of the fall.[3]

We have been appointed by God to stand in the gap between life and death, hope and despair, peace and destruction and participate in His powerful plan for redemption as we use our God-given gifts to sustain, renew and cultivate the created world around us in a way that points to its Creator.

LOVING GOD WITH OUR WORK

Since work is a God ordained reality for us all, how does one tangibly live and work in a way that honors Him? Let’s take notes from one of the hardest workers and wisest men that ever lived, King Solomon.

“Then I realized, it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him – for this is his lot.”[4]  

Solomon acknowledged that work can be toilsome at times but he also understood its proper place in our lives. The first step in honoring God with your work is to recognize the rightful place it has in your life. If we fail to do this work will forever be a fight, a burden, a frustration and barrier to experiencing God’s best for our lives.

Solomon goes on to say, “Eat your food with gladness, and drink your wine with a joyful heart…. enjoy life with your wife whom you love…For this is your lot in life and in your toilsome labor under the son.  Whatever you hand finds to do, do it with all your might.”[5]  

Here are 4 principles from Solomon on how to work in a way that honors God and brings glory to his name.

  1. Work “with all your might” – This in large part answers the question of how we are to go about the business of work as Christian men.  We are to give it everything we’ve got, all day, every day. As God’s earthly ambassadors, it is our responsibility to mirror his attributes  in all we do.  Since we know our God to be perfect, excellent, abounding in love, full of mercy and committed to justice, we too should pursue competence and excellence by working with all our might. We should stand for justice, show mercy and remain humble in all circumstances.[6] We were not created for mediocrity but with excellence in mind.
  1. Whatever your hand finds to do…” – The type of work we do is not as important as the way we do it.  Ephesians 4:11 clearly sets the precedent that God has made us all with a unique sets of gifts and abilities. There are multiple different ways to use the gifts you’ve been given and I’m convinced that God will honor your labor in more than one line of work.  That being said, it is very important to enjoy what you do. In fact, Solomon reminds his readers on two different occasions that men should “find enjoyment[7] and “take pleasure in their toil[8]. We shouldn’t get caught up in choosing a job that is safe, smart and secure to the point that we miss out of doing what we were created or called to do. Rather than tirelessly searching for the “perfect” job that combines all your hopes and dreams, find a job that is in line with your strengths and God’s kingdom then go do it with all your might for the glory of God. “Whatever you do, do it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) For more on how to choose the right job read section entitled, Knowing God’s Will.
  1. Enjoy life with your wife [and your kids] whom you love” – There is so much more to life than work alone.  The stories are endless of husband and fathers who gave themselves up entirely to their work only to look back years later with deep regret.  When it comes to work and family, balance in essential!  It’s extremely important to work hard at your job, but this pales in comparison to the importance of being with, loving, and savoring life with those you care about most.  Make time for you family.
  1. “Eat your food with gladness…drink your wine with a joyful heart” – Similar to the previous point addressing work/family balance, a healthy combination of work and rest is crucial to both longevity, success and long term satisfaction in a job. I am a huge believer in “big dinner table”[9] theology. Hannah and I firmly believe God designed us to work but also to enjoy a good meal around a big table with friends, family and lots of laughter. The Bible is clear that God made us to work but also to rest and to live in community with others.

[3] How Now Shall We Live, page xii

[4] These sayings are repeated several times adding emphasis to their importance. Ecclesiastes 5:18, 2:24, 3:12-13

[5]Ecclesiastes 9:7-10

[6] Micah 6:8

[7] Ecclesiastes 2:24 (ESV)

[8] Ecclesiastes 3:13 (ESV)

[9] Term used by Matt Chandler in a sermon

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