Summary: Work - we’ll get God’s perspective on it - on why we do it and how we are to do it, and we’ll also talk about some of the practicalities of the kind of work that we do.
Could you put your hand up please if you get paid to work? And those who don’t get paid - if you do housework, or some type of volunteer work? I would have thought that everyone would have their hand up because everyone works. Children have schoolwork, and homework. Almost everyone has housework of some kind. Some people even get paid to work. Raising families is work. You hear a bit on the TV every now and again about the value of "home duties". When people ask me if my wife works, my answer these days is that she does not participate in paid employment.
How do you view work? If you were to classify work somewhere between absolute drudgery and it being the highest ideal to which we can aspire, where would you place it? Some may consider work as drudgery - whether it’s your work you get paid for, or housework. Some may see paid work in terms of money - as a way of purchasing a lifestyle you’d like to become accustomed to. For some it may be a way to satisfy your ego and receive recognition. Some of you may see work as a way to use and develop skills, or a way to accomplish something meaningful with your life. Others may consider work as a way to serve humanity. Many of us would experience each of those feelings about work at different times.
SOME QUOTES ABOUT WORK
Because work is important, people have had some things to say about it over the years. Let me see if any of these strike a chord with you:
- Confucius said, "Choose a job you love and you will never have to work a day in your life."
- "There are two kinds of people, those who do the work and those who take the credit. Try to be in the first group - there is less competition." - Indira Ghandi
- One for our retirees, "Cessation of work is not accompanied by cessation of expenses." - Cato The Elder
- "I am his mistress. His work is his wife." - Marion Javits
- "I like work; it fascinates me. I can sit and look at it for hours." - Jerome K. Jerome
- "Every job has drudgery, whether it is in the home, in the school, or in the office. The first secret of happiness is the recognition of this fundamental fact." - M. C. Mcintosh
- "Work either expands or contracts in order to fill the time available." - Parkinson’s Law
- "When you cease to make a contribution, you begin to die." - Eleanor Roosevelt
- "A woman’s work is never done, especially the part she asks her husband to do." - Source Unknown
Some of these quotes idealise the concept of work, whilst others display a degree of cynicism about it. We all have good days, we all have bad days. Work is something we have to live with and so how can we make it easier to live with?
Today’s sermon is about work. We’ll get God’s perspective on it - on why we do it and how we are to do it, and we’ll also talk about some of the practicalities of the kind of work that we do. I don’t plan to make any real distinction between people who get paid compared to those who don’t, not to those who have retired from full-time paid employment - so you all have to listen.
THE ORDINATION OF WORK
THE WORK OF GOD
However you perceive work, I want us to look at what the Bible says about it. Genesis chapters 1-3 provide the first clues. Genesis 1:1 says, "In the beginning God created". The first words we read in the Bible are that God created. He worked. It was a creative work, but it was work nonetheless. And "By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work."
But God’s work continued and continues today. Psalm 121 reminds us that "he who watches over you will not slumber". Psalm 104, which we read earlier, is a celebration of the Creator and his creation and highlights God’s continuing provision for this world.
Jesus, too, worked and works. He was a carpenter ’til age 30 and then he saved the world. John 5:17 says, "My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working."
A CREATION ORDINANCE
God works, and we are made in his image. God’s instructions to man in Genesis 1 were, "Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground. Then God said, ’’I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food."