“Work saves us from three great evils: boredom, vice and need.” – Voltaire
0) What makes something you do into work?
15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to farm the land and to take care of it. 16 The Lord God commanded the man. He said, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden. 17 But you must never eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil because when you eat from it, you will certainly die.” 18 Then the Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper who is right for him.”1) The biggest misconception about work is that it’s a consequence of the fall. What does it mean that there was work even pre-Eve?
Genesis 3: 17-19
Then he said to the man, “You listened to your wife and ate fruit from the tree, although I commanded you, ‘You must never eat its fruit.’ The ground is cursed because of you. Through hard work you will eat food that comes from it every day of your life. The ground will grow thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat wild plants. By the sweat of your brow, you will produce food to eat until you return to the ground, because you were taken from it. You are dust, and you will return to dust.”2) How did the Fall change work?
John 5:16-21, 36
16 The Jews began to persecute Jesus because he kept healing people on the day of worship. 17 Jesus replied to them, “My Father is working right now, and so am I.” 18 His reply made the Jews more intent on killing him. Not only did he break the laws about the day of worship, but also he made himself equal to God when he said repeatedly that God was his Father. 19 Jesus said to the Jews, “I can guarantee this truth: The Son cannot do anything on his own. He can do only what he sees the Father doing. Indeed, the Son does exactly what the Father does. 20 The Father loves the Son and shows him everything he is doing. The Father will show him even greater things to do than these things so that you will be amazed. 21 In the same way that the Father brings back the dead and gives them life, the Son gives life to anyone he chooses. … 36 But I have something that testifies more favorably on my behalf than John’s testimony. The tasks that the Father gave me to carry out, these tasks which I perform, testify on my behalf. They prove that the Father has sent me.”3) Jesus and the Father have work? How is that possible? What does it mean about work?
I accomplished some great things: I built houses for myself. I planted vineyards for myself. I made gardens and parks for myself. I planted every kind of fruit tree in them. made pools to water the forest of growing trees. I bought male and female slaves. In addition, slaves were born in my household. I owned more herds and flocks than anyone in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered silver and gold for myself. I gathered the treasures of kings and provinces. I provided myself with male and female singers and the pleasures men have with one concubine after another. So I grew richer than anyone in Jerusalem before me. Yet, my wisdom remained with me. 10 If something appealed to me, I did it. I allowed myself to have any pleasure I wanted, since I found pleasure in my work. This was my reward for all my hard work.
4) Whoa. What does Solomon discover about work?
But when I turned to look at all that I had accomplished and all the hard work I had put into it, I saw that it was all pointless. It was like trying to catch the wind. I gained nothing from any of my accomplishments under the sun.
God has made us what we are. He has created us in Christ Jesus to live lives filled with good works that he has prepared for us to do.5) Is what we consider our work the work to which God has called us?
1 Corinthians 3:3-9
When you are jealous and quarrel among yourselves, aren’t you influenced by your corrupt nature and living by human standards? 4 When some of you say, “I follow Paul” and others say, “I follow Apollos,” aren’t you acting like sinful humans? 5 Who is Apollos? Who is Paul? They are servants who helped you come to faith. Each did what the Lord gave him to do. 6 I planted, and Apollos watered, but God made it grow. 7 So neither the one who plants nor the one who waters is important because only God makes it grow. 8 The one who plants and the one who waters have the same goal, and each will receive a reward for his own work. 9 We are God’s coworkers. You are God’s field.6) What is the planting and watering metaphor saying? How does God interact with our work?
Open your ears, and listen to me! Pay attention, and hear me! Does a farmer go on plowing every day so he can plant? Does he continue to break up the soil and make furrows in the ground?7) What is something that you have learned about work from God’s teaching?
When he has smoothed its surface, doesn’t he scatter black cumin seed and plant cumin? Doesn’t he plant wild wheat in rows? Doesn’t he put barley in its own area and winter wheat at its borders?
God will guide him in judgment, and his God will teach him.
- 21:5 The plans of a hard-working person lead to prosperity, but everyone who is always in a hurry ends up in poverty.
- 21:25 The desire of a lazy person will kill him because his hands refuse to work.
- 22:29 Do you see a person who is efficient in his work? He will serve kings. He will not serve unknown people.
- 24:27 Prepare your work outside, and get things ready for yourself in the field. Afterwards, build your house.
- 28:19 Whoever works his land will have plenty to eat. Whoever chases unrealistic dreams will have plenty of nothing.
2 Thessalonians 3:6-10
Brothers and sisters, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ we order you not to associate with any believer who doesn’t live a disciplined life and doesn’t follow the tradition you received from us. You know what you must do to imitate us. We lived a disciplined life among you. We didn’t eat anyone’s food without paying for it. Instead, we worked hard and struggled night and day in order not to be a burden to any of you. It’s not as though we didn’t have a right to receive support. Rather, we wanted to set an example for you to follow. While we were with you, we gave you the order: “Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.”9) Why would they give that order? How does it fit with the previous scriptures on work?
14 What good is it, my brothers and sisters, if someone claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save them? 15 Suppose a brother or a sister is without clothes and daily food. 16 If one of you says to them, “Go in peace; keep warm and well fed,” but does nothing about their physical needs, what good is it? 17 In the same way, faith by itself, if it is not accompanied by action, is dead.
18 But someone will say, “You have faith; I have deeds.” Show me your faith without deeds, and I will show you my faith by my deeds. 19 You believe that there is one God. Good! Even the demons believe that—and shudder.
20 You foolish person, do you want evidence that faith without deeds is useless? 21 Was not our father Abraham considered righteous for what he did when he offered his son Isaac on the altar? 22 You see that his faith and his actions were working together, and his faith was made complete by what he did. 23 And the scripture was fulfilled that says, “Abraham believed God, and it was credited to him as righteousness,” and he was called God’s friend. 24 You see that a person is considered righteous by what they do and not by faith alone.
25 In the same way, was not even Rahab the prostitute considered righteous for what she did when she gave lodging to the spies and sent them off in a different direction? 26 As the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without deeds is dead.10) Deeds here is 'works' in the King James. Is this work in any of the senses we've talked about it?
Biblical Worldview of Work by Kenneth Boa
Job Satisfaction and the Value of Work
Work by Steve Bishop
Ethics of Work by James Eckman
Image credit: Sean MacEntee @ Flickr