The Dignity and Value of Work

The subject of “work” is a very interesting subject.  Most people think of work as punching a clock, collecting a paycheck in order to pay bills.  We tend to look at work as boring, and look forward to the day when we don’t have to work anymore.  I want to look at work from a different perspective.  Have you ever considered the dignity and value of work?  Colossians 3:23 says: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;”

You and I were created to work!  God worked in Creation.  When God is first mentioned, He is creating and working.  Since we are created in His image that means we are created to work as well.  When you study the Bible you will see a repeated promise to Israel is that God would bless them in the work of their hands.  The word work is found over 700 times in the Bible.  We get this idea that Adam and Eve just walked around the Garden of Eden eating at their own leisure and not having to lift a finger to do anything.  Then they sinned and all of a sudden had to work, and we blame them for us having to punch a clock from 9 to 5, Monday through Friday.  It’s often times hard to see the dignity of work because of the reality of the curse as a result of Adam and Eve’s fall in the Garden.  However, if you study Genesis 2 you will see that God placed man in the Garden to dress it and keep it.  In other words man was to be a steward of what God had created.  Yes work got harder after the Fall of man, but man non-the-less was created to work.  God never intended or designed man to be sedentary or lazy.

The way that God created us physically is clear that He intended us to work.  He created our hands with opposable thumbs to hold and manipulate objects.  He created our bodies to stand, walk, and lift.  We were created to be active, not be couch potatoes.  Doctor’s, nurses, chiropractors confirm that lack of physical activity will eventually lead to discomfort and even disability.  Sitting in a chair or a couch, or lying in bed all day makes you feel more tired and achy than putting in a good day’s work.  Patients in hospitals and nursing homes who have limited mobility have to be moved regularly to avoid bed sores.  These are signs that God did not intend for us to lie around or sit around and do nothing.  He created us to work.

When you study Genesis 6 the Bible tells us that the earth was corrupt before God, and the earth was filled with violence.  Sounds a lot like our world today.  God calls us to be counter-cultural.  As things get worse in our world, it’s time to work, both physically and spiritually.  We live in a society that places little value or dignity on work.  Too many of us look at work as a necessary evil.  We look at it as a way to pay the bills or take a vacation.  I can remember the day when work had an inherent value and dignity for its own sake.  My dad taught my brother and I to do a job well for its own sake.  Whether it was mowing the yard, washing the car, keeping our rooms clean, helping mom with the dishes, or vacuuming the floor to do the job to the very best of your ability.

God blessed Noah with a meaningful job to do – build an ark!  This meaningful work would be the salvation of his family.  Have you ever considered that the work you do could make the difference in your family?  Like Noah, being given a meaningful job to do, whether physical or spiritual, should not been seen as a hardship, but instead as a sign of God’s grace on our lives.  Genesis 6:8 says: “But Noah found grace in the eyes of the LORD.”  Noah was given a physical job to do – build an ark, and a spiritual job to do – preach righteousness.  Imagine the heartache and pain Noah went through while building the ark.  People laughing at him and his sons for building a boat because it was going to rain.  People had never seen rain before.  For a hundred years Noah built the ark and preached righteousness.  Some may look at Noah as a failure, but to those 8 people that were on the ark, Noah was their salvation.  Noah obeyed God’s word, and built an ark to the saving of his house.

Look at it like this – the work God gives us to do is a gift, not a curse.  We show our faith in God through our work.  Hebrews 11:6-7 says: “But without faith it is impossible to please him: for he that cometh to God must believe that he is, and that he is a rewarder of them that diligently seek him.  By faith Noah, being warned of God of things not seen as yet, moved with fear, prepared an ark to the saving of his house; by the which he condemned the world, and became heir of the righteousness which is by faith.”  Faith puts us in motion.  Faith makes us work!  It is through work we counter the curse.  When a gardener weeds a garden or a farmer tills a field, they are countering the curse.  When a doctor helps someone’s body heal, they are countering the curse.  When we work to help someone fix up their house, help them get groceries, mow their yard, shovel snow off of their sidewalk we counter the curse.  That work usually opens the door for us to talk with someone about the Lord, teach a Bible Study or pray with them, and instead of being overcome with evil, we are overcoming evil with good.

So as you go through your work day look at your work not as just merely a means to collect a paycheck, but look at it as being meaningful and giving glory to God.  Fulfillment in life does not come through houses, land, money, cars or toys.  It comes through accomplishing something that is meaningful and makes a difference.  You can make a difference in the world.

I leave you with the words found in Ecclesiastes 9:10 Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.

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