Christian View of Work

In reading The Trellis and the Vine by Marshall and Payne, I came across a very helpful reminder of why I work and how I can honor Christ with it. Here’s an excerpt on the biblical and theological implications of work:

  • Working is a good and fundamental part of being human in God’s world. From the very beginning, mankind was placed in the garden to work it and to keep it.
  • This side of the Fall, work is cursed and frustrating (and don’t we often know it!), but it remains good and worthwhile and necessary.
  • Christians are strongly motivated to work, not only because of the place of work in creation, but also because work (like any other field of life) is a theatre for our service of Christ. Whatever you do, says Paul to the Colossians, “in word or deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col 3:17).
  • At a deep level, when we work at any job, we work for Christ. As Paul goes on to say in Colossians 3, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24).
  • As Christians, we do not work in order to gain self-fulfilment or fame or personal kudos. We work not for ourselves but for others, to serve them, to not be a burden to them, and to have something to share (Eph 4:28; 1 Tim 5:8).
  • Secular work is thus very valuable, worthwhile and important. But like any good thing, it can become an idol. We can start to look to our work for our significance and value.
  • We must remember that only Christ’s work redeems humanity. As useful and helpful as secular work is in our world, it will not save us or build Christ’s kingdom. That only happens through Spirit-backed gospel preaching [Colin Marshall and Tony Payne, The Trellis and the Vine, (Kingsford, Australia: Matthias Media, 2009), 137-38].

Calvin On Productivity (Or Lack Of)

NAU Genesis 2:15 ¶ Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.

On this verse, Calvin made following comments:

Men were created to employ themselves in some work, and not to lie down in inactivity and idleness. This labour, truly, was pleasant, and full of delight, entirely exempt from all trouble and weariness; since, however, God ordained that man should be exercised in the culture of the ground, he condemned, in his person, all indolent repose. Wherefore, nothing is more contrary to the order of nature, than to consume life in eating, drinking, and sleeping, while in the meantime we propose nothing to ourselves to do.

That’s a Godward goal to have and maintain on this new year.