If you enjoy work, like me, the Bible does show that God honors our work. Yes, working is Good! The attitude of work ethic is good, just remember to take a Sabbath to rest and worship with your family or spiritual community. Below are selected days from the devotional “21
Days to Finding
Eternal Purpose” in Your Daily Work. The free full devotional is found at Life.Church. with Love, Christine Tyler
In the Church today, we talk a lot about how God is loving, holy, omnipresent, all-powerful, faithful, just, and true. But we rarely, if ever, talk about the fact we worship a God who works. And yet, that is the very first thing God reveals about Himself in Scripture.
In the beginning, God created. In the beginning, God was productive. In the beginning, God worked. Throughout the first pages of Genesis, we see God engaged in “the work of creating” (Genesis 2:3). The Hebrew mlkh, which we translate “work” in this verse, is the exact same word used to describe ordinary human work throughout the Old Testament.
This claim that the God of the Bible works is unique amongst the world’s religions. Every other religion says the gods created human beings to work and serve the gods. Only the Bible says God Himself worked to serve us.
This radical truth is foundational to how we—God’s image-bearers—should think about our work today. The fact the God of the universe worked means that work is not a “necessary evil” or a meaningless “means to an end.” Work is dignified, meaningful, and good in and of itself. More than that, work is God-like and a way we reflect His character to those around us.
Genesis 1 – God’s Creation
Genesis 2 – God Rested
What God created in the first six days is remarkable. But what’s equally remarkable is what he did not create.
He created animals, but he didn’t give them names. He created land, but he didn’t build roads. He created stars, but he didn’t invent the telescope.
After working for six days, God left the earth largely undeveloped and uncultivated. He created a blank canvas and then invited us to join him in filling it.
Before God rested on the seventh day, he put a succession plan in place, calling us to create in his image—to “fill the earth and subdue it.” Pastor Timothy Keller points out that this is a call for “civilization, not just procreation.” It is a call to cultural creation.
We often treat the sixth day as the end of the creation account. But day six is just the beginning! It’s when God passed the baton to us and, in essence, said, “Go work and create like me. Show me what you can do with this blank canvas I’ve created for you. Fill this world with good things just as I did in the beginning!”
Only once this mandate was delivered for us to work did God say that his creation was “very good” (Genesis 1:31). The implication of this truth is clear: Work was designed to be a very good, God-like, worshipful thing. But as we’ll see tomorrow, sin ensured work wouldn’t stay perfect forever.
- Genesis 1: 27-28
Genesis 2 4-15
After a particularly frustrating day at the office, it can be tempting to believe work itself is a curse—a “necessary evil” and consequence of living in a fallen world. But that’s not at all what Scripture teaches.
As we’ve seen over the past two days, God himself worked, thus giving great dignity to our work today. Then, he passed the baton of creation to us to work and “fill the earth” in his image. Genesis 1 and 2 show us that work is inherently dignified and good. Work was designed to be worship.
But—and this is a big but—sin messed everything up. As today’s passage from Genesis 3 makes clear, sin doesn’t just impact our souls and standing before God; it also impacts the material world and the world of work. Because of sin, our work has become “painful toil” as the “thorns and thistles” of fallen creation make our work frustrating and arduous.
Work is not hard because it is inherently bad. Work is hard because we still live in a fallen world.
But the gospel promises that one day, Christ will “make all things new” (Revelation 21:5), including our work. That’s right—I am suggesting we were made to work forever, including in God’s eternal kingdom. It is that truth we will explore more closely tomorrow.
We’ve saw “the kingdom of God” was at the forefront of Jesus’s preaching. On the first Easter Sunday, Jesus proved he is the prophesied king of that kingdom, thus inaugurating his redeemed creation.
Jesus didn’t bring the fullness of his kingdom in one fell swoop. He certainly could have, but he didn’t.
This shouldn’t have surprised his disciples. Before his crucifixion, Jesus made clear his kingdom would come gradually—slowly—like a mustard seed growing into a tree or yeast folding into the dough (see Matthew 13:31-33).
How will Jesus’s kingdom come? At least partially through him working through us. In response to his disciples’ question about when the kingdom would come, Jesus issued them a directive to be his “witnesses…to the ends of the earth.”
You see, while Easter declared Jesus is the rightful king of this world, somebody has to witness that truth. This is the mission of the Church! King Jesus has given us a mission to be his ambassadors throughout the world, bearing witness to his lordship over every square inch of creation, including our places of work.
To be clear, Jesus is king—present tense (see 1 Corinthians 15:25-26), but his kingship won’t be fully visible until he returns to finish the work of establishing his kingdom (see Revelation 21:5). In the meantime, we are to act as his agents of redemption, working in a way that makes his kingship a little more visible and tangible in our present world.
“In my former book, Theophilus, I wrote about all that Jesus began to do and to teach until the day he was taken up to heaven, after giving instructions through the Holy Spirit to the apostles he had chosen. After his suffering, he presented himself to them and gave many convincing proofs that he was alive. He appeared to them over a period of forty days and spoke about the kingdom of God. On one occasion, while he was eating with them, he gave them this command: “Do not leave Jerusalem, but wait for the gift my Father promised, which you have heard me speak about. For John baptized with water, but in a few days you will be baptized with the Holy Spirit.” Then they gathered around him and asked him, “Lord, are you at this time going to restore the kingdom to Israel?” He said to them: “It is not for you to know the times or dates the Father has set by his own authority. But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.” After he said this, he was taken up before their very eyes, and a cloud hid him from their sight. They were looking intently up into the sky as he was going, when suddenly two men dressed in white stood beside them. “Men of Galilee,” they said, “why do you stand here looking into the sky? This same Jesus, who has been taken from you into heaven, will come back in the same way you have seen him go into heaven.””
Acts 1:1-11 NIV
“He told them another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like a mustard seed, which a man took and planted in his field. Though it is the smallest of all seeds, yet when it grows, it is the largest of garden plants and becomes a tree, so that the birds come and perch in its branches.” He told them still another parable: “The kingdom of heaven is like yeast that a woman took and mixed into about sixty pounds of flour until it worked all through the dough.””
Matthew 13:31-33 NIV
“For he must reign until he has put all his enemies under his feet. The last enemy to be destroyed is death.”
1 Corinthians 15:25-26 NIV
“He who was seated on the throne said, “I am making everything new!” Then he said, “Write this down, for these words are trustworthy and true.””
Revelation 21:5 NIV
Today, we see one final way we should do our work in light of what we have learned thus far: To work productively towards God’s agenda in this world, we must stay rooted to “the vine” by regularly communing with our Lord.
Jesus said apart from him, “you can do nothing” of value to him and his kingdom-building purposes. In the words of author Matt Perman, “To live your life without God is the most unproductive thing you can do.”
It’s not enough to learn the truths of this Foundations series one time. We must constantly be renewing our minds (Romans 12:2)—steeping ourselves in God’s Word in general and what the Word says about our work specifically.
““I am the vine; you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.”
John 15:5 NIV
“Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will.”
Romans 12:2 NIV
“The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and knowledge of the Holy One is understanding. For through wisdom your days will be many, and years will be added to your life.”
Proverbs 9:10-11 NIV