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This is what I have observed to be good: that it is appropriate for a person to eat, to drink and to find satisfaction in their toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given them - for this is their lot. Ecc. 5:18, NIV
Work was God’s original blessing and the first thing He asked Adam to do [Gen. 2:15]. Some think work was part of the Curse in the Garden of Eden, but that is untrue. The ability and desire to work were part of our original design. The Curse complicated it, making it much more difficult and adding layers of frustration to it.
In modern Western society, with its love of pleasure and entrainment, work is often viewed as a necessary evil. Many people count the days until the weekend [or the next day off for those who work weekends] when they can have ‘fun’ and do what they really want to do. Socialism plays to this by robbing the industrious and wealthy to support those who do not want to work. Socialism is actually a vicious means of tyranny and control. Even things like minimum wage laws, while they help a few, have been shown to increase poverty by denying work to those who need it the most.
The Communist-era Russians discovered that one of the best ways to break a man’s spirit was to force him to do meaningless work, such as moving a pile of stones from one location to another and back again for no purpose. One of the most dehumanizing and cruellest things any government has ever done is to offer to provide for all the needs of the poor or racial groups with no responsibilities put on them. It murders the human spirit as it goes against our design and destroys our will to live and our purpose in life.
Counsellors say that the most devastating things a man can face are divorce and being fired from his job [in that order]. I used to live daily in fear of being fired, which also shows a lack of trust in God on my part. To date, I have never been fired, but I know the devastation of being threatened with it.
God designed us to have a day of rest but never a life of idleness. True, because of the Cruse, work can be hard and frustrating. Sometimes bosses [or employees] and co-workers are cruel or hard to get along with. Some people are able to do a job they love, some people are forced into a job they hate. I suspect most of us are in between. Even if our work is one of necessity, not of choice, we have aspects of the job we like and aspects that we dislike.
Since work is a gift from God and takes a large portion of our lives, it would be wise to work in such a way that we get satisfaction out of it, as Solomon recommended in the above verse. I know one of the frustrating parts of my work is having so much to do that I rarely feel a sense of accomplishment, of getting everything that needs to be done, done. You may feel the same, or you may go home every night with the satisfaction that everything has been done and done well. Either way, we should feel some achievement in having done all we could to the best of our abilities.
For the Christian, work should not just be about money. Yes, money is important, but if that is the only reason for working, then finding joy and satisfaction in it will be very difficult. Work is about doing something well to please our Lord and Saviour. It is about interacting and encouraging other people, whether co-workers or customers/clients. It is about fulfilling a purpose that God has built into us.
Any kind of legitimate work can be done for the glory of God. I confess I don’t understand people who are too ‘good’ to do certain kinds of work. A person may have Degrees and be used to making loads of money, but it they find themselves unemployed, they should be willing to work wherever there is an opportunity rather than go on welfare or accept handouts. I know it will not meet all the expenses of the lifestyle they have been used to, but it is a start. No one should be too proud to sweep floors or flip burgers while working for something more in line with their desires and abilities. So no matter what your ‘work’ is, do it with all your heart for the glory of God and the service of others. Of course, if a person cannot work because of medical reason or oppression, that is a different matter.
Jesus Christ Himself was a diligent worker. For most of His life, He was a tradesman, traditionally a carpenter. He knew what it was like to be frustrated and work for difficult and demanding people. Then for the last three and a half years of His life, He worked at intense ministry with evil men and demons deliberately trying to destroy Him. Yet as He hung on the cross, His body shredded, His mind and emotions shattered, His Spirit crushed, He cried out, “It Is Finished!” His work had been perfectly completed. God testified to this by raising Him from the dead three days later. Now Jesus is sitting at the right hand of God, enjoying the reward of His perfect work and ultimate sacrifice as He welcomes people into a loving relationship with God, which would not have been possible if He had failed even once in His work.
I believe part of the Curse of Hell - where we are all naturally headed - is no work. Among other things, it will be a place of complete boredom, with nothing to do, and nothing to accomplish. In contrast, Heaven will be a place where we have meaningful and fulfilling work without the frustration and pain which often accompanies it now.
If you are a Christian, your life and work now will have meaning in an eternity spent in the glorious presence of your true love, Jesus Christ. Nothing will be wasted, not even a single teardrop. But if you are not a Christian, if you have not surrendered your life now to Jesus Christ, in your eternity, all your life and work will ultimately be wasted and meaningless.
If you haven’t accepted Jesus Christ as your Lord and Saviour, why not? An amazing and purpose-filled life awaits you. You can talk to Him right down and ask Him to forgive your sins, come into your life and be your Lord and Savour. If you are not sure or want more information find a Christian friend, go to a genuinely Christian church or wade in the New Christian stream on my website. Get your questions answered. And never be satisfied until they are. It will be the most important work you will ever do.
For more information about Glenn Davis see our About Glenn page and/or his Author's Page.