Why is it so difficult to integrate our faith and our daily work?
When Jesus said, "I have come that you might have life, and have it to the full," He surely meant that following Him would have profoundly positive implications for why and how we do our work.
Consider this fact: We spend about 60% of our waking hours "at work". We may spend 30% of our time on family and personal interests and another 10% on church, religious or related pursuits.
Yet most teaching, preaching and writing address these areas in exactly opposite proportions: A heavy emphasis on religious concerns, some help on marriage and family matters, but precious little speaks to our flourishing in the workplace.
As a result, millions of us go to work every day disillusioned – unaided and unchallenged by the Word of God. Whatever messages of hope and significance Jesus has to offer, our faith in Him is not easily translated into our daily work.
In this series, we hope to help correct this imbalance in teaching. Each week we will consider an aspect of our work, through the lens of scripture. Today we look at the first references to work in the Bible. To do so, we must go back to the beginning. As you read the following verses from the book of Genesis, circle all the action words (verbs) that relate to God, and underline the action words that relate to man.*
Genesis 1:1 "In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth."
Genesis 1: 26-28 "Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.' So God created man in his own image, in the image of God He created him; male and female He created them. Then God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground'."
Genesis 2:15 "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and to take care of it."
What do you learn about God and man from these scriptures? What do God and man have in common?
What was God's original job assignment for man?
What do we learn about work from these verses?
(* We acknowledge the literary term "man" to represent men and women.)
Read Genesis 3:14-19.
What exactly does God curse in these verses?
Note: God does not curse work itself. What is the result of the curse on man's work?
What are some of the things in your day-to-day work where you experience the results of "the curse" in your life and in the workplace?
Some people believe that having to work is a part of the curse. However, we see from the scriptures above that God instituted work in a perfect environment, before the curse, and declared it to be good. For another perspective on work, read Ecclesiastes 5:18-20.
What did the wise king Solomon say it is good for a man (and a woman) to do?
What are some implications for you, when you view your work as being a gift from God?
In summary: God is a worker, and God created us for work, so there is always a purpose in our work. However, our work is made more difficult because of sin and the curse and our broken trust with God. Nevertheless, as we connect with God by His grace, we can find great satisfaction and joy in our work.
"Work is a high calling, not secondary in value. Our work takes on added dignity as we regard each person we contact with great respect, created in God's image, and as we function in a framework of excellence and integrity. The norms and values modeled by Jesus Christ and rooted in God's Word can serve as a compass on the sea of a workplace that is often turbulent and treacherous."
--John D. Beckett, Loving Monday
Note: Much of the material in this study is taken from Connecting God and Work, Priority Associates Publishers, 2007