Finding Joy in what we do – Good work
Small group, MBC, April 27, 2014
Ask – Is work a curse or a gift? HOW MANY OF YOU SEE IT AS A CURSE? HOW MANY AS A GIFT?
The Bible tells us that work is a good thing and that we should see our work as a holy calling and as joy.
READ Genesis 1:28
WHAT COMMANDS DO YOU SEE IN VERSE 28? Reproduce, bring order and rule (procreation and dominion).
God created the first human life and He wants us to do the same – a unique connection and relationship between us and the Creator.
Secondly, God gave us dominion over nature. Subduing, bringing into submission or subjugating. This is the task of stewardship of every living creature and thing. We were given the divine prerogative to rule, tame or subordinate the earth on behalf of the Creator – not harshly, but with love and commitment, just like the Creator did (imitation).
God placed Adam and Even in a specific location. God also caused the land to flourish.
READ Genesis , 2:8-9, 2:15
HAVE YOU EVER PLANTED A GARDEN? WHAT RESULTS DID YOU GET?
WHO PLANTED THIS GARDEN? The Lord did! This one was an oasis – a place of contentment and joy (Eden = bliss or happy land in the Hebrew). God planted this garden not just for the sake of planting (sometimes us), but to provide for humanity – sustenance.
When God plants something, it is the top of the line = beautiful and good for eating. DO ALL OF YOUR FOOD FROM THE GARDEN LOOK AND TASTE LIKE THIS?
Two trees in the garden – Life – which would allow them to live forever (fountain of youth?) and Knowledge of Good and Evil – divine wisdom (what Satan promised?, no, just a type)
For us today, we note verse 15 – Adam was there to work and care for the garden – the first job. HOW DID ADAM CONSIDER HIS JOB? HOW DO YOU CONSIDER YOUR JOB?
Read Ephesians 6:7 “Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for The Lord rather than for people.”
You will spend over 100,000 hours of your life working. This is more than anything else you’ll do except sleep. What is the meaning or purpose of our working? Do we work because we have to, or because it is a “High Calling”?
Just what makes work sacred? What is a high calling?
For some, the work we do five or six days a week is the means, the necessary evil, we must endure to enjoy one or two days of leisure, and “to put food on the table,” we say. Do you ever work obsessively or feel like a slave to your work? Or, are you able to take time off for rest and renewal that enables you to put your energies back into the other five or six days? Do you say TGIF (Thank God It’s Friday) or TGIM (Thank God It’s Monday)? Does God ordain and call us to our work?
The word “call” comes from vocare. We get the word vocation (a “call” or “summons”) from it. Biblically it is used primarily for our being “called” to live in Christ, in relationship with God through Jesus. We belong to Christ, and our work is to believe, to glorify and enjoy God. It is our “high calling,” our highest calling. Our daily work, whatever that is, is also a high calling. It is to be directed toward fulfilling God’s purposes.
WORK COMES FROM GOD
Work was God’s loving idea from the beginning, in and through creation. After reporting the creation of male and female on the sixth day, the writer of Genesis quotes God as saying,”. . . your descendants will live over the earth and bring it under their control. I am putting you in charge of the fish, the birds, and all the wild animals. . . . Then the Lord God placed the man in the Garden of Eden to cultivate and guard it” (Gen. 1:28, 2:15).
The first glimpse we have of the human person in Scripture shows someone working as a farmer and manager of the rest of creation—joyously, purposefully tilling the ground and exercising respectful stewardship over all the earth.
The Bible portrays work as part of God’s very nature. “If God is the worker,” Elton Trueblood wrote in his book Your Other Vocation, “. . . then men and women, in order to fulfill their potentialities, must be workers too. They are sharing in creation when they develop a farm, paint a picture, build a home, or polish a floor.” We are exercising our dignity as creatures made in God’s likeness when we work. Our work is the dual task of continuing God’s creative process and taking good care of what God has entrusted to us.
There is hardly a human occupation that does not in some way involve being a coworker, a co-creator with God. We are sharing in God’s work. We are expressing God’s image in our work.
WORK IS TO BE DIRECTED TO THE WELL-BEING OF SOCIETY
Our destiny as “made in the image of God” includes participation in God’s work of developing, maintaining, and enhancing community. Our work is to benefit the civil society in which we live and work. In addition, we’re called to be creative. What is the creative element of your work? What is the common benefit of your work? “The place God calls you to is the place where your deep gladness and the world’s hunger meet,” Frederick Buechner wrote.
In the biblical understanding of work (for all of life for that matter), there is no separation between that which is sacred or secular. The sacred-secular distinction comes from Plato and Greek dualism. The Bible knows nothing of that distinction. All work is sacred since God created and uses that work to sustain God’s creation and participate in God’s purposes.
WORK IS A PRIMARY WAY IN WHICH WE HONOR AND WORSHIP GOD
Avodah is a Hebrew word that means both worship and work. Paul encourages the Colossians, “And whatever you do, . . . do it all in the name of Jesus giving thanks to God . . . whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” (Col. 3:17, 23 – will read that later). It is a high calling!
Perhaps the most powerful expression of our giving thanks to God comes through the celebration of the Lord’s Supper. Here we see bread and wine on the Lord’s table. These elements, the products of many hands and minds, come to the table, are blessed by God, and become for us the body and blood of our Lord. When in that process did worship begin or cease? “Here is the perfect symbol of the unity of work and worship,” wrote Alan Richardson, “the strange unbreakable link that exists between the bread that is won in the sweat of man’s face and the bread of life.”
Passing a construction site, a pedestrian asked three bricklayers what they were doing. The first said that he was earning a living to feed and clothe his family. The second said, “I’m throwing these bricks together to build a wall.” The third responded, “I am helping to build a cathedral for the glory and worship of God.” What a difference your perspective makes in giving meaning to your work!
What is your work? Is it a High Calling? You bet it is, every creative and caring and beneficial aspect of it. May we work hard and well and enjoy it more each day. Then we will be able to say, “Thank God it’s Monday—and Friday—and Sunday!”
Many of us work too much – on the workaholic side of life. Others barely make an effort. Both groups need balance.
Many of us make more than we personally need. Others struggle to get by. Both need balance.
Adam struggled to find balance, even though God gave him clear boundaries.
READ Genesis 2:16-17
WHAT WERE THE CHOICES ADAM HAD? WHAT CHOICES DO WE HAVE? HOW DOES THIS RELATE TO OUR WORK BEING A GIFT OR A CURSE?
Our enemy is not our job or the people at our job. Our enemy is the one who wants to rob us of our joy every day at our job, our home, our church, our community…
Let us embrace work as a good thing – as a gift from God. He wants us to approach work with responsibility and joy – so that we will become content with what He has provided. Does this mean jobs that are downright difficult will suddenly become joyful? Not necessarily. But if we see our labor as a God-ordained gift, then our outlook will be tempered by not what we do but for whom we do it! Matthew 25 reminds us that our work is noticed. And Colossians reminds us how to see our work.
READ Colossians 3:23
1. Guard against discontentment – when you feel dissatisfied at work, mentally list at least three ways God has blessed you in your job.
2. Encourage a co-worker – Find tangible way to encourage someone in their work. For example, leave a thank you note for the custodial crew. Give words of appreciation to the supervisor who led an excellent meeting.
3. Thank a work mentor – write a note to someone to express gratitude for teaching you how to work. Share one or two things that person modeled for you.
Finding Joy in what we do – Good work