Summary: Work exists before man. The creation of man and other things were the handiwork of God and they were good. What a pity! Today’s man has a wrong perception about work for the sake of instant reward, personal gain or interest.
I. In general term, work is an activity, task, duty, responsibility or assignment. When something is created, done or made, work is said to have taken place (Genesis 1:11, Genesis 1:21, Genesis 1:25-27). Work is done to achieve a particular outcome or result which oftentimes is either positive or negative. If it yielded good result (Genesis 1:31), it is positive. The work in 1 Samuel 2:22 is an example of work that yielded bad result (1 Samuel 4:11) and it was negative.
II. It is evident that work has been in existence before the creation of man (Genesis 2:5). The handiwork of God led to the creation of the world (Genesis 1:1-24) and subsequently, man (Genesis 1:27). Thereafter, He rested (Exodus 20:11). Man was created to work (Genesis 2:5) and is rewarded (Proverbs 14:23). In the beginning, he was kept in the Garden of Eden (Genesis 2:8) to dress and keep it (Genesis 2:15). He was given additional responsibility to name creatures (Genesis 2:19). But when he sinned (Genesis 3:11), he was driven out of the garden to till the land where he was taken (Genesis 3:23).
III. Because man heeded not to instruction, God made the land less productive so that he labours so hard to make a living out of it (Genesis 3:17-18). Ordinarily, man is not to labour strenuously to gain the fruit of his labour as it was never so at the beginning (Genesis 1:28). But we have a friend in Jesus, the load bearer (Matthew 11:28), great redeemer who came to the World and offered us a helping hand from God’s declaration at the beginning (Genesis 3:17). Let it be in our mind that we will labour and be rewarded accordingly (1 Corinthians 3:8, Proverbs 14:23). If Jesus could work very hard (John 5:17, John 9:4) then we are expected to do same (Ecclesiastes 9:10). God blesses the work of the hands (Psalms 10:4, Psalms 90:17, Proverbs 22:29, Proverbs 12:24). Imagine you do not work, what will He bless?
IV. God has deposited in us talents/abilities to explore (Ecclesiastes 5:19) and we are to discover them for our own interest and that of others (Acts 20:35). When you have difficulty in using or applying them, He will teach you so that you do not abandon it for other purpose. God equipped David to war (2 Samuel 2:35) but one day, he chose to stay behind in Jerusalem and idleness coerced him to perform unholy duty (2 Samuel 11:4) and this did not please God (2 Samuel 11:27).
V. The work we do for a reward is very important to determine how far we go in our Christian life (Genesis 4:3, Matthew 26:14-15). Will the offering from it be acceptable unto Him? It is pleasing to engage in work that attract respect from God or glorify Him (Genesis 4:4-5). Today, however, reward is given priority not the work and they can never get satisfied (Ecclesiastes 5:10). The cry is ‘what is my reward and that is where the society has a serious challenge. The reward will always inform the kind of work to be done without factoring the will of God. Patient dog eats the fattest bone is not found in their record. What their bell rings is patient dog eats no bone.
VI. This is not a good encouragement in the Christian race because in the process of satisfying immediate gain/desire (Matthew 26:14-15), they fall into devil’s trap (Matthew 27:4-5). I have studied over time the place I am familiar with, that people in the informal business environment tend to work on Sunday because the day’s profit is always high. Remember the devil is a great strategist (Matthew 4:1-11). He knows how to entice you in order to keep you away from God’s presence.
VII. People dishonour God while doing their work as cited in the illustration. There are other instances that are not pleasing to the ear because they are unholy acts such as collecting bribes to influence certain decision (1 Samuel 8:3), corruption while carrying out God’s works (Ezekiel 22:28). The shameful among them is that of the sons of Eli. They were given specific task in the tabernacle but they leveraged on it to commit atrocity (1 Samuel 2:22) and the consequence did not augur well (1 Samuel 4:17). These behaviours contradicted God’s expectation (1 Corinthians 16:14, 1 Thessalonians 4:11) and are predominant in today’s world, coined as ‘smart’ (Proverbs 16:25) which culminate to societal failure. God’s way is never our ways (Isaiah 55:8) we are to seek His face (Psalms 105:4) to guide us in His way (Psalms 25:4-5, Psalms 145:17, Isaiah 58:11).
VIII. In the everyday dealings, things are not done rightly because of tendency to outsmart other persons. Simon Peter and co toiled all day without a fish and Jesus intervened in their situation and they were able to catch large quantity of fishes which broke their net. Meanwhile, other fishermen in the vicinity benefitted from the gain (catch) Luke 5:4-7) and they were given glorified responsibility – fishers of men (Luke 5:10). It is very important we lend an helping hand to others who are in need as it is the basis of Christianity (Acts 20:35) otherwise we are worst than the unbelievers (1 Timothy 5:8). Jesus is calling all that are heavily laden that he may give us rest. Respond to the call so that you will be partaker.