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Why Work?

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What would you be doing if you were not working? What should work be doing for you?

Is labor nothing more than a curse? Do our efforts really matter to us, or to others, or to God?

Wouldn’t it be great if I never had to work again?”

Most of us have either said or heard that phrase, or something like it. If we came into sudden wealth, how many of us would want to quit our jobs and stop working? Is this what God desires from us—to be free from the bonds of “work”?

As a third-generation remodeling contractor, I get to see a diverse picture of the overall quality of construction work in my area. With each passing year, this quality goes further and further down. I often must fix others’ poor work that should never have been done in the first place. Earlier this year I had to build a support beam to hold a poorly built roof that was on the verge of falling in. I am often left confused, wondering how a worker could be willing to leave such shoddy work behind.

This is not just about “pride of workmanship.” In my profession, shoddy work can lead to serious problems such as under-wiring or inadequate framing—often leading to injury or death. So, why do so many workers seem not to care about the quality of the work they do?  Is work just supposed to be a regrettable hardship—something we do to “put food on the table”? Or does God expect it to be something more?

In the Bible, God has a lot to say about work; in fact, He was the first to do work! In John 1:1–4 we find that God had all power. He had everything. Then, of His own will, He created the heavens and the earth (Genesis 1:1).  We find that God wanted to work, even when He had no need to. So, what is work? It is a much-underestimated gift from God.

We have been given a small portion of God’s own power. He has not given us the ability to make something from nothing, but He has given us the creative imagination to make much from little! He also intends us to use this gift, and He left us an example of how He uses the power of creation. By His example we find that we should, as He does, take great pleasure in our work. In Genesis 1, at the end of every day God reflected on his work and “saw that it was good.” Do we do that? Do we, at the end of our workday, look back and ponder the things that we have done? We should!

Some people act as though their jobs are “disposable”—unimportant tasks that require little or no concern.  This idea, however, does not fit in with Scripture. Solomon wrote, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).  In Matthew 25:14–30 we read the parable of the talents. Though the “talent” here is a denomination of money, the translation is provocative, and the principle is the same. God gave each of us a measure of abilities, and He expects us to increase it by working. Even the worker with the least must return more than he was given.

All in all, God expects us to be good at what we do, and He wants us to love what we do as much as He does. How much is that? “For God so loved the world [Genesis 1:31 “…all that He had made”] that He gave His only begotten Son that whoever believes in Him shall not perish but have everlasting life” (John 3:16).

Do you want to excel at your work? Do you want your customers to be pleased with your performance? Then meditate on God’s example. Reflect on your work at the end of the day. Take satisfaction in your good work, and be ready to work harder tomorrow to do even better. Such an attitude does not go unnoticed by employers. Nor does it go unnoticed by God.


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