At my age, I hear quite a few conversations about how people can’t wait to retire and stop working. It’s as if they had read Bob Black’s essay in 1985 entitled “The Abolition of Work” where he argued that work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world.
One friend can’t wait to stop working and focus on her garden. Another can’t wait to start traveling. And another just wants to flip through the movie channels all day for a year or two. And I get it… everyone gets weary from time to time and looks forward to a break.
But is work (in and of itself) bad? Is it something to avoid at all costs? Does it necessarily cause misery? Since we are about to celebrate Labor Day, it seems appropriate to ask what the Bible has to say about work.
Well, the very first page of our Bible begins the discussion about work. God created the heavens and the earth. He worked for six days and then rested on the seventh day. And as He reflected on His work, God called it “very good” (Gen. 1:31).
In the Garden of Eden, work was a natural part of Adam and Eve’s day. It was meaningful and satisfying. Labor didn’t become arduous until after the fall. Part of the consequence of their sin was the fact that work became very difficult. “Cursed is the ground because of you, through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life (Gen. 3:17).
Even though it is now challenging, work is still highlighted in the scriptures. Solomon told us that all hard work brings a kind of profit. Paul reenforces a strong work ethic, especially in I Timothy 5:8: “Anyone who does not provide for their relatives and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”
And He lays it our quite succinctly in II Thessalonians 3:10: “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.”
As we approach the unofficial end of summer, and enjoy our Labor Day celebrations, let’s pause a moment or two and think about the value of our work. Yes, it allows us to eat but it has so many other benefits. When we work with passion and energy, we get to mimic the efforts of our creator. And it is very good.
When we approach our labor with creativity and imagination we are giving it so much more significance and worth. It almost becomes a kind of offering to the Lord. Work is good.
Truly, there is nothing wrong with looking forward to a change or break from our usual pattern, but let’s be careful to not ignore the value that God has given our labors.
Something to think about with your hamburger!