As we approach Labor Day--the American labor movement that celebrates the contributions workers have made to the strength, prosperity, and well-being of our country, I am reminded of God's design for work.
In Genesis 2:15 "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (ESV)" Even before that we see God working in Genesis 2:1-3: "Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. 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. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation."
God was a gardener in the Garden of Eden and in the New Testament Jesus was a carpenter. They showed us the dignity of hard work--no task too small, too insignificant to help the world flourish. God worked and does work and we are to work in His place on earth to nurture, inspire, create order, beauty and help everything thrive. That God created us to work in the pre-fall world is clear as he gave Adam the job to subdue and have dominion over the animals and the earth, caring for all God created. It was man's responsibility to care for this creation.
But when man sinned, the nature of work changed. We are called to work in a fallen world that does not honor Him, into a broken world where our views of work are often wrong and frustrating. Many people see it as a "necessary evil", as a way of self-fulfillment and self-realization that eventually leaves people disappointed and empty.
Our concept of money and winning-at all costs can drive our work ethic to pursue power and engage in a perpetual spiral of wanting more and being satisfied less. People will take advantage of others, oppressing and ridiculing the poor and weak in our world. We need to acknowledge that all kinds of work have dignity. From the most intellectual to the most manual forms, work in itself is good and a major reason for our purpose. We need to recognize that every job, occupation or kind of work falls within the believer's duty. It is a moral calling and a spiritual responsibility to honor the Lord. It's a good and beautiful thing.
We are told repeatedly in scripture that we are to be fair and honest in our work as both employers and employees and to help the widows and orphans. God warns us powerfully about oppressing the widow, orphan and sojourner.
- “(The person) who oppresses the poor to increase his own wealth, or give to the rich, will only come to poverty.” – Proverbs 22:16
- “...you shall not oppress a hired worker who is poor and needy whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourner who are in your land.” – Deuteronomy 24:14
- “Indeed the wages of the laborers who mowed your fields, which you kept back by fraud, cry out and the cries of the reapers have reached the ears of the Lord of Sabbath.” -- James 5:4
God not only continuously works on our behalf, but also honors the work we do, and desires that we honor one another by not lording our positions or power over our fellow man. WOW works to support God’s heart for the worker, the widow and the fatherless through all that we do. We pray that the work God has allowed us will encourage everyone!
I like the following quote from John MacArthur about work :
"Work was always God’s design for us to be able to draw out all that is in this creation for the demonstration of our nobility being created in the image of God and for the glory of God and for the benefit of all man. It can be redeemed. It must be redeemed and that’s why we work. You know how that works. You redeem your yard every week. And if you went away for six months and came back, you would find out what the curse would do...just no water for six months, that will do it. Or just open all the windows and doors in your house and leave for six months and come back and see what’s inside. See what lives there. It’s a battle and we all understand that battle. We extract goodness out of His creation. That was Adam’s job and now we have to fight against the curse to extract that goodness. We are called to that work because it is noble and because it is God-glorifying.”
This Labor Day, may we all seek to extract goodness from God’s creation by working according to His character and perfect plan.
-- Lorraine Pruitt © August 2017