The Worth of Work

First observed in 1882 by an early American labor organization called the Knights of Labor, Labor day is now a yearly national holiday observed the first Monday of September. Labor Day was purposely timed to give a break evenly spaced between those other holidays. When you think of this holiday, does it ever seem strange that once a year we have a day devoted to honor labor and we observe it by not working? Besides Labor Day being a day off from work, and a day to rest and enjoy family and recreation, this is also a good time to reflect on the nature and blessing of our work.

We must begin this reflection with this idea in mind. We who are God's children should be motivated to work by a higher purpose than simply to see work as a means to an end, a necessary evil and a drudgery inflicted on us. While we certainly reject, on biblical grounds, that those who are able to work should seek it (see 2 Thessalonians 3:12), we must see that work is more than a burden, it is a blessing. This fact can first be seen in our Lord's...


Have you ever wondered why God took six days to make all that is? Part of the reason is to be an example for us. There is no natural reason for a week to be seven days long apart from God's example in the first week there was. His example shows us that we are to work for six days and take one day in seven for rest and worship. As clearly stated in the ten commandments passage in Exodus 20: "Six days shalt thou labour, an do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God:" (Exodus 20:9-10). During those six days of creative activity, the Lord God displayed the quality of His mind, character and ability. His self-evaluation of His work is recorded in Genesis 1:31, "And God saw every thing that he had made, and, behold, it was very good. And the evening and the morning were the sixth day."

If we are to follow His example, we should strive to do our work well. To the best of our abilities, we must perform the duties set before us not just to better ourselves but to follow the standard our God has set for us. We should, with devotion and reverence, follow the example of our God. We must also avoid the extremes. It seems as if we are prone to either want to work seven days and forget the Lord's day or we want to take a week-long Sabbath and do as little work as possible. Be committed to God's pattern for us and enjoy the blessing of productive work and meaningful rest. How have you done over last seven days? What are your intentions for the next seven? Make this matter of commitment to the Lord.

Not only do we have His example, scripture teaches us that work is man's...


Before the fall, in the untainted beauty of Eden, Adam and Eve were given the responsibility to do meaningful work. It seems likely that God would have instructed them to maintain His pattern of six days of work and one day of rest. He told them in Genesis 1:28 that they were to subdue the earth. They were to use its resources and make the earth habitable and hospitable for man. Furthermore, they were to have dominion over it, that is to manage it in a responsible way and preserve it from abuse. In Genesis 2:15 man is charged with personal responsibility to dress and keep the garden. Adam and Eve were to keep their special home in order.

After the fall of man, work became more difficult due to the curse of God on the ground. Adam and Eve were cast out of their garden home but the original mandates to work, to subdue and have dominion over the earth continued. It would be harder, but the work was to be done. Even in with the curse of sin work is a blessing in that it acts to purify society. The old cliché That "idle hands are the devil's workshop" is not far from the mark. Meaningful work will keep us out of trouble. The prescription Paul gives for stealing in Ephesians 4:28 contains the command to work: "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour working with [his] hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth." History bears out that as societies have more time for leisure and spend less at work they become more decadent. The poor work ethic is one of the factors that has led to the current decline in the spiritual health of our nation. We can conclude that the Creator made us for work. It is His will and our destiny.

We must not work only because it is a necessity but because it is His will for man, it is a means to remain obedient to Him. In our efforts to bring glory to Him, work becomes our...


The purpose for all activity in the Christian's life can be summed up in I Corinthians 10:31 "Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God." This verse is familiar to us but do we adequately understand it? To bring glory to one means to give that one the credit and attention. The spot light is to be shone on the one who receives the glory, so all who are aware will know who is responsible, and who should receive the praise. All of activities including our work is to shine the spotlight on God. We must work so that all will know that God is at work in our lives. This can only be done by working hard, working well and giving Him the credit. How do we react when we receive praise for a job well done? Do we swell with pride or find a way to pass the credit along to God? A good place to begin is to spend some time thanking Him for giving life and breath and the abilities we have. We should thank Him for the opportunities He has given us to work, whether on the job, in our business, or in our church. By offering Him our thanks, we discipline our minds to reflect on Who should get the glory from our lives and labor. A good scriptural reminder to keep our minds on the significance of our work is in Colossians 3:23 "And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;". We are commanded to do our work with joy and enthusiasm as well as remember that He is our real supervisor. It seems that many only work when the boss is watching. We would do well to remember that the Lord is always watching.

Not only can we express our praise to our God through our attitudes and activities at work we can also be encouraged to know that our present work can have lasting results. For if we labor for Him and in Him, He gives us this promise: "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name..." Hebrews 6:10a. What a blessing to know that our work for Him is noticed! Often we do not receive the praise of men, but our Heavenly Father sees all. He is the motivation and the reward for our work.

Our work is not limited to this present life, for if look into our future we will see that our work for Him is our...


Although scripture does not satisfy all of our curiosity regarding our future occupations it does tell us enough to show that we will not spend the days of eternity in heaven cloud surfing while idly strumming a harp. During Christ's millennial reign on earth, the redeemed bride of Christ will have a place of service in His kingdom. The key passage for this interval of time is Revelation 20:6, "Blessed and holy is he that hath part in the first resurrection: on such the second death hath no power, but they shall be priests of God and of Christ, and shall reign with him a thousand years." If we shall have such authority, then we should be courageous in using our authority now. Jesus gave us authority during this age to proclaim the gospel message to the whole world. This is the great work of the Body of Christ.

Our work does not end at the dawn of the eternal state. We are told the following in Revelation 22:3, "And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and His servants shall serve him:" (see also Rev. 7:15). What ever the specific activity, we will definitely serve our God. Shouldn't we get a head start and give ourselves to serve Him now?

It appears that part of this service will be worship. Worship appears to be the chief activity of heaven. One passage that stands out in this regard is Rev. 5:11-12: "And I beheld, and I heard the voice of many angels round about the throne and the beasts and the elders: and the number of them was ten thousand times ten thousand, and thousands of thousands; Saying with a loud voice, Worthy is the Lamb that was slain to receive power, and riches, and wisdom, and strength, and honour, and glory, and blessing." Here the redeemed, represented by the elders, join with the angelic host to offer this hymn of praise to our Savior. Worship should be a priority that begins now.

God made us for work, both now and then. We must come to see that work is our constant calling by God, from creation through eternity. Work as unto Him and for His glory. Let us do our work well for no task is trivial and no task goes unnoticed by our real supervisor. He desires to bless us through our work, in our work, and for our work. Even though heaven contains no retirement plan, we can be motivated today by the assurance that our future will be one of unending blessing through meaningful activity and purposful life. When next you go to the office, punch the time clock, launch into housework, enter the classroom, plow the ground, get behind the wheel, gather your tools, or what ever you do, be lifted by the fact that in Him you are doing a blessed thing.

Jesse Waggoner
Pastor, Calvary Baptist Church

©1997 Calvary Baptist Church