What does the Bible say about work?
From the very beginning of the Bible, God Himself worked for six days creating the heavens and the Earth, and then he took a day of rest. Once he had created Man in his own image, God charged Adam and Eve with manual labor. Since that time God has designed each of us to work, and it is important enough that He talks about work more than 800 times in the Bible.
- The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it.
— Genesis 2:15
God sets the ultimate example when it comes to work, and He did not end His work with creation—He actively works each and every day.
- O Lord, how manifold are Your works!
… the earth is full of Your creatures…
These all look to You
to give them their food in due season…
When You send forth Your spirit, they are created;
and You renew the face of the ground.
The manual labor that man was charged to accomplish in the beginning was not made to be easy, and the fall of man in the garden of Eden only made work more difficult. That said, work was designed to keep us on the path toward God. By doing our work, we are taking part in His greater plan, and we are seeking prosperity.
- Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands—O prosper the work of our hands!
Over time, the definition of work broadened. It was not just manual labor, but it evolved into specialized jobs or trades, as well as the work of spreading the Gospel. Jesus Himself set an example on earth by taking part in the work of His earthly father as a carpenter. He also took part in the work of His heavenly Father by preaching the Gospel and offering salvation to all of mankind.
- My Father is still working, and I also am working.
God reminds us that He has chosen the work for us in our individual lives. He tasks us to bring joy to work with us, for this is what He has arranged for us.
- There is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot.
God goes further to remind us that the work we are doing is for Him. He specifically reminds us that we are not working for our earthly “masters,” but for Him as a part of His grander plan.
There are many times that our daily work doesn’t seem to provide us satisfaction, and can feel like it is merely a grind. Often we are in a place where we cannot feel the connection between the work we are doing and God’s grander plan. God, however, reminds us that all “work” is for Him and not for those here on earth.
- Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters.
Having tasked us to do His work, it is comforting to know that He gives us the strength to accomplish that work.
- I can do all things through Him who strengthens me.
Knowing that God Himself works on our behalf, that He designed us to work, and that He has given us the tools and strength to accomplish our work gives me great comfort. There are days when I have the wrong attitude or when I push back against the work ahead of me. This reminder reenergizes me to bring the right spirit of joy and thankfulness as I go about the work God has chosen for me, and as I share the story of the gift of redemption.