As God’s image bearers, we are called to work just as God worked in the creation of the world. We often forget that God’s command to perform work was given before Adam’s fall and exile from Eden, not after! Here are five encouragements for all who labor in life’s various vocations:
1. Work hard.
As we work, we imitate God as only his image-bearers can do. It’s not only your boss you are trying to impress. Your ultimate boss is the Triune God. He created you, he redeemed you—and so he owns you. Work hard for him to give him thanks for everything he has done.
2. Work to provide for your family.
Paul wrote in 1 Timothy 5:8 that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.” This may serve as more of a warning than an encouragement, but it also teaches us about the necessary link between our faith and how we live our lives. When we provide for our dependents, God is pleased with us. He takes delight in the work that we do—especially as it aids others who are in need.
3. Work to love and serve your neighbor.
You may not realize it, but through your job God blesses others. And through other people’s jobs, God blesses you. You travel by the labor of auto manufacturers, workers, mechanics, and airline workers. Your houses and streets are clean through the labor of garbage truck drivers, street cleaners, sanitation workers, and others. You eat through the labor of grocery store employees, waiters, cooks, and farmers. You have the gift of salvation through the work of ministers and are cared for spiritually by elders. As we work diligently in all of these different callings, God uses us to love and serve our neighbor.
4. Work knowing that God is up to something through your work.
The Lord’s Prayer includes a much-needed petition: “give us this day our daily bread” (Matt. 6: 11). But this prayer is answered through the baker, manufacturer, delivery truck driver, etc. God works through means, and he will use even what may seem like a boring job in your mind for his purposes in the grand scheme of things.
5. Work to bless others through giving.
As the Lord has monetarily blessed us, so should we seek out of our abundance to bless others. Give money to your local church or to the efforts of a new church plant. Give to missionaries or non-profit organizations that are worthy causes. “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need” (Eph. 4:28). This is another way that we can love our neighbors and bring glory to the Triune God—in whose image we were created and in whose name we have been redeemed.
It's easy to forget that Jesus was just the son of an ordinary carpenter (Matt. 13:55). And yet, it was through the son of a carpenter that God worked to raise up the savior of the world (Jn. 4:42). In Jesus Christ, we have heard good news and we have received everlasting joy.