Summary: Work is a significant part of our lives. If I am to see my work the way God wants me to see it, how will I view it? As we nurture a biblical view of work we are not only more successful but also happier.
It’s Off to Work I Go (I)
The holidays are coming to a conclusion. Some people are glad. They are looking forward to letting their children go back to school. Some are sad. They are not looking forward to going back to work. The reality is that almost everyone here will report to either school or a job or some responsibility tomorrow morning. I ask you, “Are you looking forward to going to work tomorrow morning?”
Work is a big part of our lives. Statistics indicate that the average worker who retires will have worked 90,000 hours of his or her life. That’s 45 years of 40-hour weeks(1). And that doesn’t include volunteer work at the church or chores around the house. Work is a colossal fact of life.
The way you and I view work will significantly impact our personal happiness, our performance on the job, our success in life. What is your attitude toward work? Where did that attitude come from? A whole lot of people view work as a necessary evil. They see work as the only way to finance pleasure(2). They see work as something in the way of their personal happiness. Therefore, they arrive late and leave early, and in between those two events very little happens. One man was applying for a job. The manager reviewing the application said, “I’m sorry I can’t hire you, but there isn’t enough work to keep you busy.” The applicant quickly responded, “You’d be surprised how little it takes(3).”
This morning I want to talk about nurturing a biblical attitude toward work. What does the Bible teach about work? If I am to see my work the way God wants me to see it, how will I view it?
1st Work is a Gift or Present from the Lord.
Eccl 5:18-20 “Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labor under the sun during the few days of life God has given him-for this is his lot. Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work-this is a gift of God. He seldom reflects on the days of his life, because God keeps him occupied with gladness of heart.” NIV
In Ecclesiastes Solomon is trying to figure out what life is all about. He is viewing life from a human perspective. He tries out every pleasure and endeavor imaginable. He does it all on a bigger scale than anybody else. And here is a conclusion he comes to:
You had better find some satisfaction in your work. You had better find some enjoyment in its results. You had better accept your lot in life and the necessity of work. Find some way to be happy in your work. Take all that—wrap it up—and realize it is a gift from God. That is a wonderful present from the Lord.
Why does Solomon say this is a gift from God? Because it keeps a person from going crazy thinking about his own mortality. Being occupied with the joys of work and accomplishment, he is not always dwelling on the deep, philosophical issue of death. That is an issue we must face. We must all address that fact. Moses prays in Ps 90:12 “Teach us to number our days aright, that we may gain a heart of wisdom.” NIV
It is essential that we address the issues concerning our own mortality, the brevity of life, the priorities of life. But it is a gift from God that we don’t just sit on a mountain
24 hours a day and think about that. It is a gift from God that we can be occupied with productive things.
God, the Creator, has made us in His image. It is a gift from God that we have the capacity to create results. Only God can create something from nothing. But He has given us the capacity to shape and mold things into beauty and utility. He has given us the satisfaction that comes through doing that. We’ll talk about that more in a few minutes.
The Greeks had a warped view of work. They believed work to be demeaning. The famous poet, Homer, said that “the gods hated men and the way they demonstrated their hatred was to invent work and punish men by making them work(4).” That philosophy has subtly crept into many Christian’s thinking. Is it Biblical? No! “But, didn’t God punish Adam by making him work? Wasn’t that God’s curse on Adam for his disobedience?” No! The curse was the thorns and thistles(5). The curse is the painful toil required to produce from the ground. The curse is the second law of thermodynamics—things run down, deteriorate if not diligently attended. But the curse is not work. As a gift to Adam, God gave man work to do long before the fall. Gen 2:15 “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” NIV