Dr. Wayne Shaw
First Christian Church
Monday is Labor Day. We call this Labor Day weekend. I find it a bit ironic that we would call it Labor Day and then take off from work and not labor. Work is not a popular word in our society. I have a friend who used to remind me that “work” was a four letter word. (But so is “love.”) What is the Christian perspective of work? What does the Bible say about it?
In the beginning, God placed Adam and Eve “in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Gen. 3:23). This was before the fall, before the curse. After the fall the ground was cursed to “produce thorns and thistles” and mankind would by “painful toil” and “the sweat of your brow” earn their food (Gen. 3:17-19). Work was not the curse. The curse simply meant that work would be more difficult.
It is important for people to work. Paul give the following instructions, “If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thes. 3:10). The Bible also teaches that “The worker deserves his wages” (1 Tim 5:18).
The Bible raises work from the level of simply a necessity to be able to eat to an even higher level. In Col. 3:22-24, Paul writes to slaves, who provided the work force of that day. I believe we could say that it applies to employees today. “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.” Our commitment to Jesus Christ is to be reflected in our work. We are to serve our boss as if we were serving Jesus. That should change our attitude.
Paul also adds, “Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven” (Col. 4:1). We all have to understand that we are first and foremost servants of Jesus.
But work should not consume our lives. Even God rested on the seventh day (Gen 2:2). The principle of the Sabbath is that we need to take time to rest and reflect and remember the God who created us and gave us the ability to work.