Summary: Labor Day Sermon that teaches that work is a gift from God.
The Gift of Work
By Kenny McKinley
The other day I was walking down the hall at OPSU and I happened to see one of the Professors that I know, and I asked him how he was. He replied that he was fine, and so when someone says to me that they are fine, I usually say, “Just fine? Not good or great?” and this instance was no different. I said, “You’re just fine? Not great?” and this is what he said to me, “Well I’ve got a lot of work to do, so things are never great when you’ve got a lot of work to do.”
Well that got me to thinking a little bit, with the Labor Day holiday being tomorrow (Mon.) I decided that maybe a good idea for a sermon topic would be about work. And so today I want to talk to you all about the Gift of Work that has been given to us by God.
Today it seems like there is an attitude that most of us have, where work is seen as a necessary evil, a fork in the road on our drive to contentment. It seems that our culture and society tells us that we should try to work as little as we have to, and retire as soon as we can. I’m sure you’ve all seen those commercials where the guys says, “Work from home on your computer and make up to 10,000 dollars a month, you can even earn up to a million dollars in a year.” And then there are commercials that say if you choose this particular investment firm you can retire by the time your 40 and start living the “good life”. Well what they don’t tell you in those commercials is that if you want to have those kinds of results then you have to hunker down and work like a mad man, putting aside everything else. And sure the result might be early retirement, or it might be a stress related heart attack, stroke, frustration, break ups of families, and a whole lot of other things…
Now work wasn’t always like it is today. At one time work was a fulfilling blessing for man. Work itself wasn’t the problem so to speak. The problem is sin, sin that came into the world and frustrated man’s labor and the fulfillment he got from doing his God given work. So what we need to understand is what God intended for us in our work, and how the fall of Adam has affected work, and how we as believers need to view our work until the Lord’s return.
In our first Scripture we read there in Genesis Chapter Two we see Adams work load before the fall. Can you imagine a time when work was nothing but joy? Now I love my job. I love being a preacher, but there are stressful things that come with being a preacher. We have to spend a lot of time in prayer, and we worry about members of our congregation as well as a lot of other things. I also started working with upward bound recently, tutoring high school kids, and I’m sure that’s going to have its rewards as well, but no matter how much some of us love what we do, we experience times of aggravation and frustration. It doesn’t matter if you’re farming and your equipment breaks down, or if your working in a 9-5 job and the boss is on your case, or if you’re a minister and you’re trying to do what you can to reach your community and things don’t work out right. We can love what we do, but there will be times when frustration and other things make our work less than enjoyable. But before sin entered the world, there was nothing like this. There was no anxiety or stress associated with labor. It was pure joy to go to work. God told Adam what his job description was. He said, “Be fruitful and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it; have dominion over the fish of the sea, over the birds of the air, and over every living thing…” And then God took Adam and put him in the Garden of Eden, “To tend and keep it.”
But then Adam sinned.
Since Adam and Eve didn’t obey God the consequences of their disobedience came upon them. God placed a curse; so to speak, on Adams work. Let’s take another look at Genesis 3:17-19 (read).
Now this Scripture shows us that the curse was not work or working itself; the curse was put on Adam’s labor. The fall affected man’s work specifically. Adam ate the forbidden fruit, and God’s punishment fits the crime. If you read the entire text where God is speaking to Adam (concerning Adam’s transgression), God mentions eating no less than five times. Adam no longer would be the master of the ground, but would instead have to struggle to get it to bring forth its fruit and crops. He would have stress, and hardships in his work, and what was once gathered easily would now only be gathered with difficulty. Every time Adam went to work it would remind him of his sin. After the fall, Adam would have to deal with thorns, stickers, weeds, and all sorts of other things that would inhibit his ability to work. And if that weren’t enough, God told him that his only relief from this work would be his death.