Today is International Worker’s Day! It is a good thing to rest from work and have some free time to relax and be with the family and friends. Besides us thinking only of rest, I do think today is a unique day, it is not just another public holiday. I believe it ought to be a day when we firstly rest from our work, and secondly also a day to reflect on our work.

Here is a brief reflection on what work is and how we must view it. The hope is for us to have the right mentality towards work and for this to encourage us to work well.

Common Wrong Views of Work

  1. Work is because of sin; surely it is Adam’s fault. If only he had not sinned then we would all be free from work and simply enjoy life.
  2. Work is only there because you need money. If you have enough money then do not need to work.

These are all wrong because they misrepresent what work really is. This does not only affect our understanding of what work is but even our attitude toward work.

Why Work, or Where Does Work Come From?

In Genesis 1:26-28, we learn that God has made men in his likeness, and he has created them to do something. Man is to rule over creation; both males and females are different from the rest of creation and are given the same mandate. Man would be productive, by increasing the earth’s population and by overseeing its operation. Hence, we conclude, that work is from God and it is an obligation for all men, both male and female.

Again in Genesis 2:15, we learn that immediately after creation, when Adam was still in a sinless state, he was not just in the garden of Eden enjoying the cool of the day, the food, and having some alone time with God. Heaven on earth with no sweat! However, we learn that God put him in the garden to work. Adam was to work and worship God in his work.

What Is The Standard: Should I Just Work Any Way I Want?

The account of creation is not in the Bible just for the sake of it. However, with it, God demonstrates to men who are his representatives how he worked. Genesis 1:4, 10, 12, 18, and 21 all say that God’s work was excellent and good. That is the standard! Thus, we are not comparing our works with other people’s work, but to God. When you are done with your work, can God look at your work and say this is good? God is our standard, and we must strive to glorify him in every work. God does not only care about what you must do; he also cares about how you are doing it.

Therefore, our hearts need to be right, not groaning, but a heart joyful at work. Work must be finished. We don’t start something and stop in the middle, we must finish it. Work must be done well.

Is work still the same with the presence of sin in the world?

Sin affects the condition of men and has also affected man’s attitudes and activities. Here are three facts from Genesis 3 showing how work is due to the presence of sin:

  • After the fall when man disobeyed God, work was still there.
  • However, work is going to be harder.
  • Man will not enjoy work anymore.

Is there hope for us to enjoy work again, in the midst of sin and broken relationships between men?

The gospel is the solution from God’s standpoint. It is the power of God to save us from sin which even affects our working (Romans 1:16-17). The gospel makes a man be right with God and with man. It transforms our lives and makes us do all things for the glory of God. The gospel doesn’t make us lazy and wait for heaven’s doors to open. Laziness is sin, and it does not glorify God. (Romans 12:2; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:11-12)

Thus, the gospel is not only there to take us to heaven and escape hell. It transforms us now here on earth and causes us to live for God right now on earth. The gospel turns us into right worshippers again and causes our worship to be accepted before God, even our work. And that is why you need the gospel!

Practical principles from Proverbs to motivate you to work hard and avoid laziness

  1. Remember, working hard is first a mindset (and so is laziness). [Proverbs 10:5; 15:19; 22:13; 26:13, 16]
  2. Working hard and staying on task is a matter of self-control. [Proverbs 16:32b; 25:28]
  3. Love what you do as a vocation, regardless of what it is.  Ask God to grant His blessing and favour in your work (cf. the account of Joseph in Genesis 39). [Proverbs 12:11, 14b; 28:19]
  4. Don’t try to make money by deceit or fraud. [Proverbs 3:9-10; 10:2; 11:18; 15:27; 16:8; 20:14; 28:8, 20]
  5. Don’t work only in order to receive.  Rather, find satisfaction in simply doing good work for God and men. [Proverbs 3:27-28; 12:26; 21:25-26; 24:21-22; 25:21-22]
  6. Be honest with your employer about how much you work. If you’re lazily collecting a paycheck, that’s stealing. [Proverbs 14:23; 20:17; 22:16; 30:8-9]
  7. Don’t work so much, however, that you need to re-introduce yourself to your family.  Strive for a healthy balance between your work and your family life. [Proverbs 13:11, 25; 15:16-17; 23:4-5; 24:3-4]
  8. When you are asked to serve in some way, don’t attempt to take the path of least resistance (because of laziness). [Proverbs 10:26; 19:15]
  9. If you are a lazy person, or if you tend toward laziness in certain areas of your life, confess your sin to God.  Whether at home, at work, or in ministry, admit to God that you haven’t been working as hard as you should (He knows already), and ask Him to cleanse you from sin. [Proverbs 28:13]

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