Last week for a Tuesday meditation on the idea of work, we simply read a fable, a poem, and a Scripture. This week, we are jumping into a slightly larger perspective on the place of work in Scripture. The kids I am sharing this with at our co op are ages 5-13, and I try to lean into the Socratic method of asking questions to find forward motion and uncover wisdom through didactic conversation. I don’t speak to this group as a pastor, but as a facilitator. I am a fellow-learning, and we are pursuing spiritual health and wisdom and intellect together in community.
That said, what are some things we can find out about work, in the context of Scripture??
GOD WAS THE FIRST WORKER
“Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that He had done.”
GOD PUT HUMANS TO WORK BEFORE THE FALL
“The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.”
HARD WORK BRINGS PROFIT
“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.”
WE ARE TO WORK FOR THE LORD
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.”
WE WORK IN ORDER TO SHARE
“Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.”
GOD IS THE ONE WHO MAKES OUR WORK A BLESSING
“May the favor of the Lord our God rest on us; establish the work of our hands for us— yes, establish the work of our hands.”
So obviously, this shows us that work is mentioned in the Bible right from the very beginning! In fact, the very very VERY beginning! The first verse in Scripture says that “God MADE” something. Making something requires work, doesn’t it? Soon after that we learn that God made HUMANS, specifically made in His image, which means that He made us to be workers. Like Him. For Him. Blessed by Him.
What does it mean to work?
William Bennett’s “Book of Virtues” says that “work is applied effort: it is whatever we put ourselves into, whatever we expend our energy on for the sake of accomplishing something or achieving something.”
When I say the word “work,” what do you think of? What images come to mind? What kind of work/jobs/activities come to mind?
Who works? Just grownups?
Do YOU work?
What kind of work do you do?
How do you know if it is good work?
Do you know if work is virtuous?
How can we know that work is good?
A lot of people probably ask you, “what are you going to be when you grow up?” What do they mean by that? They usually mean, “What job are you going to do in order to earn a paycheck?” But what we really ought to be asking is, “what is your work in the world going to be?” “What will be your works?” “What work will you spend your body and soul pursuing until you reach heaven?”
Perhaps you can see by now that work in its fundamental sense is not what we do FOR a living, but what we do WITH our living. And as Christian workers, WHO we are working for, and spending our life on is really the most important nuance.
Work for its own sake might be good. But it is actually a virtue?
We will continue to explore the virtue of work over the next two weeks, but for today let us close with a poem:
TRUE NOBILITY (by Edgar Guest)
Who does his task from day to day
And meets whatever comes his way,
Believing God has willed it so,
Has found real greatness here below.
Who guards his post, no matter where,
Believing God must need him there,
Although but lowly toil it be,
Has risen to nobility.
For great and low there’s but one test:
‘Tis that each man shall do his best.
Who works with all the strength he can
Shall never die in debt to man.