Work and Worth

Work and Worth

Careers In Genesis chapter 1, we read the account of God creating the universe in six days. From this account we are exposed to God’s work of creating and filling the universe. This is the first time we see the activity of work in the Scripture. On the sixth day we read,

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth'” (Gen. 1:26).

Man was created as an image bearer of God and one aspect of God’s image that man reflects is his ability to be creative and to work. This is seen in Genesis 2:15, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.” This text reveals that it was God’s will for Adam to work.  It is important to note the timing of this mandate for work: Work is not something that came after the curse (Gen. 3); rather it is something that God required of man before sin entered into the world. Because God worked in creating this world and made man to be a worker, there is a dignity and worth to work.

Of course, since sin entered the world, this has changed the work dynamic. Work now involves at times intense difficulty and hard labour (cf. Gen. 3:17-19). Work was good in its essence and was fulfilling but sin changed its dynamic. Depending on varying occupations there will be levels of intensity and pressure. Work in the garden for example will involve combat with weeds and weariness. Because of this changed dynamic, many react by refusing to work because it is too hard. Sadly, this is not an uncommon attitude. There are those who purposely prolong their education because they enjoy the ease and lack of pressure (this is not the case for all students).

Furthermore, there are those who simply don’t have the desire or drive to work. Many have lost the vision of the dignity of work and instead view it as a means to an end. Even though work can become intensely difficult and emotionally and physically draining; by God’s grace work does not have to viewed as a burden. Yes its dynamic has changed due to the curse, but there is a dignity in work and it is still something the Lord requires of all those who are able. Paul said “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess. 3:10). Work is not only important but it is also necessary. Recognizing that there is a dignity in work provides an opportunity to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all our tasks. The jobs that God gives us are opportunities and callings that He has sovereignly chosen for us.

Therefore there is a dignity in working to the glory of God. It doesn’t matter whether your occupation is menial or prominent. As long as it doesn’t go against the will of God, all work contains dignity and is important in His sight. A dignified job is not defined by how much money you earn, rather it is defined in how it is carried out to the glory of God. The menial and prominent task can and should be done to the glory of God. It is the mandate of God’s people to display the supremacy of Jesus Christ in all their tasks of work (paid and unpaid).

So then, whether you are a banker or baker, barrister or barista, horticulturalist or homemaker, your job can shine forth the glory of God in what you do. Remember, “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” (Col. 3:23-24).

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