The Dignity of Our Work
In the beginning, God created
Review: God’s Mission in this world is to reorder that which was unordered at the Fall. In Christ, God is carrying out His plan of redemption for His people and ultimately His Creation. The aim of the Gospel of Christ then is the souls of God’s people while the scope of the Gospel is all of Creation. The goal of the Gospel is threefold:
1) To restore estranged sinners to relationship with God.
2) To restore broken images of God to live how God created them,
3) To restore all of creation.
Though God was free and able to simply speak everything in to existence, the Genesis narrative says that He first creates ex nihilo (out of nothing) matter, space, energy and time. Their original state was that of formlessness and disorder. Out of the infinite resources of His own imagination and creativity, He shaped the raw materials of the universe into a purposeful creation. This is the first act of work. Upon completion, God admires and declares His creation as good.
Genesis 1:1 In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth. 2 The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.
Genesis 2:2 And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done.
God created man and endowed him has image-bearer with the godlike qualities of rationality, creativity and energy. He mandates that Adam fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over it. God planted a garden and placed man in it to cultivate it - to apply the qualities of his image bearing to it and make something that is God-honoring and useful. Work is a means to love God and love others. By placing man in a garden and then entrusting him to cultivate it, we see that God built potential into the world. God commissioned man to not only steward and care for creation, but to cultivate it and continually make something of it for His glory and the good others.
Genesis 1:28 And God blessed them. And God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.”
Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.
Genesis 2:-2019 Now out of the ground the LORD God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens and brought them to the man to see what he would call them. And whatever the man called every living creature, that was its name.
Our work is the means in which we honor God and serve the needs of others. Work is the means in which communities- either locally or globally produce the goods and services needed for the society to flourish. When we work, we apply our God-given abilities to reorder and cultivate creation for the good of others.
Jeremiah 29: 7 But seek the welfare of the city where I have sent you into exile, and pray to the LORD on its behalf, for in its welfare you will find your welfare.
Provide for Your Family
The Scriptures state plainly that if one does not provide for their family he or she is worse than an unbeliever. Work is how we produce wealth and the resources that provide both needs and blessings. But it primarily is the means in which we are responsible for caring for those God has entrusted to us.
1 Timothy 5:8 But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.
Work is a narrow category of activities that the simple doing of it can honor God. Like worship and prayer, simply doing the activity of work is an opportunity to worship, honor and please the Father.
Colossians 3: 22 Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, 24 knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.
As an Instrument of God's Providence
God’s providence is His benevolent provision for His creation. In His grand design and wisdom, He created the world in which He loves and sustains. God is sovereign over all things and is supremely good. He provides for his people and creation through the stewardship of dominion He has bestowed on his Imagebearers. God is Creator, Redeemer and Sustainer and outside of miracles, He uses human agency to carry out his plans of Redemption through evangelism/ discipleship and his means of Sustaining through human creativity, cultivation and industry.
Exodus 31 The LORD said to Moses, 2 “See, I have called by name Bezalel the son of Uri, son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, 3 and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with ability and intelligence, with knowledge and all craftsmanship, 4 to devise artistic designs, to work in gold, silver, and bronze, 5 in cutting stones for setting, and in carving wood, to work in every craft.
Isaiah 28: 23-Give ear, and hear my voice; give attention, and hear my speech. Does he who plows for sowing plow continually? Does he continually open and harrow his ground? When he has leveled its surface, Does he not scatter dill, sow cumin, and put in wheat in rows and barley in its proper place, and emmer as the border? For he is rightly instructed; his God teaches him. 27 Dill is not threshed with a threshing sledge, nor is a cart wheel rolled over cumin, but dill is beaten out with a stick, and cumin with a rod. 28 Does one crush grain for bread? No, he does not thresh it forever; when he drives his cart wheel over it with his horses, he does not crush it. 29 This also comes from the LORD of hosts; he is wonderful in counsel and excellent in wisdom.
In this lesson, we've discussed how our work has dignity and value to God. These questions are meant for you to think about these truths in the context of your vocation.
1) What aspects of your work (if any) can sometimes cause your work to seem meaningless. What truth or truths combats that feeling?
2) Why does your work (or the work you hope to do) matter to the Lord?
3) What are the specific spiritual dangers associated with your work? How do you overcome those temptations?