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“Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord             rather than for people.” (Colossians 3:23)

I recently heard a politician promising that if he was elected, he would have policies that would improve the infrastructure in our country resulting in the creation of many jobs. He stated that it was his belief that “most people want to work and be a productive member of society.” I am not so sure this is true. While I believe most people want a paycheck, I am not convinced that the majority of people are really dedicated and happy in their work. Work is something which is becoming less appreciated and is often viewed more as a burden than as an encouragement to oneself. In recent times, parents have come to believe that it is their duty to give their children everything they possibly can, possibly compensating for the time they spend at their own work rather than at home. This has, at times, caused their children to develop an attitude of entitlement because they have never had to earn their way. On the contrary, those who have learned to develop good work ethic find it is something which will carry them through their entire life, leading them to greater happiness and satisfaction.

When God created humanity – He provided a lush, abundant environment in which to live. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Everything one would need was there for the taking except for the fruit of one tree which was expressly forbidden. But because of greed and defiance of this one rule, man was forced to labor. God said, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life” (Genesis 3:17). Because of our sinful nature, resources would only be attained by the hardest of work. However, the ability to secure what was needed continued to remain as a gift from God. Even to this very day, we might find the work we do to be difficult and tiring. Nevertheless, we should continue to thank God for it, because it His gift to us.

As Christians, we are not called to focus on ourselves or how important our work is or even how much success it will bring us. We are called to do everything we do for the glory of God in service to others – including small, ordinary tasks. There’s something good about doing something useful—and then giving the surplus away. As you share the burden of your work with fellow believers, you’ll find that you actually accomplish more for the glory of God. In a loving fellowship of those who practice being beneficial, one might anticipate that the traps which sometimes result from idleness could be deterred. Paul shows us a way of life that is characterized by growth in Christ, and he presents working and sharing as a way to climb out of a dishonest way of life. “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). The command to work hard and earning enough that something might be left over goes a long way to beginning to understand what it means to be compassionate.

As we have opportunity to serve in our families and in the greater community of which we are a part, we should be encouraged by the fact that Jesus values the time and labor we give in service to others. Ultimately we come to understand that while our work has purpose, we also need to find time for rest. Resting gives us the opportunity to revitalize and reflect. “For all who have entered into God’s rest have rested from their labors, just as God did after creating the world” (Hebrews 4:10). We begin to realize we are not the sum of our accomplishments for, In the end, our work is not what provides for our needs. God is our provider, and He is the source of our true and deepest rest. By taking the opportunity to rest from our work each week, we are publicly declaring to ourselves and others that we depend on God’s care for us. When we are restored, we will find that we are more equipped to make our work matter.  As we recognize another Labor Day weekend, we should celebrate by giving our best effort toward the blessings of our personal work, whatever they may be. As we do so, we will find that they just might turn into a labor of love, and we will learn to more deeply appreciate the periods of rest which follow.

REFLECTION: Do you find that your life has at times become defined by your work? As you become immersed in the tasks of work, are you neglecting other parts of your life which are equally important? Are you practicing the rest that God intends for you? How will you give purpose to these areas of conflict?


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