Text: Genesis 2:1-3 February 13, 2011
1) This is what we do now: Today’s technology allows people to work 24/7 wherever they are. We can bring our work home or take it with us on vacation. Work is ever present with us, except when electric power goes off. An ice storm caused power line to fall and electric power got cut off, leaving people stuck at home unable to do anything. When things like this interrupts our life, we realize how important work is to us. Without work, we feel like unimportant and useless.
2) That was what God did then: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it He rested from all the work of creating that He had done.” (Genesis 2:3) But God doesn’t want to see work as the whole purpose of our life. We shouldn’t need a power outage to get us stop working. In the Old Testament, God had a plan for getting His people to stop working and pay attention to Him. It is called the Sabbath. On the seventh day of the week, they were to stop their work. (Exodus 23:12)
BIBLICAL TEACHING ON
1) It is an assignment of God: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” (Genesis 2:15) Some people may see work as a way of torture or burden and therefore it is unbearable. But work is a gift to us from God before the fall of the human race. God is the one who put us where he assigns us to work. Any time we seek or make decision of work, we need to seek God’s will.
2) It is to take care of God’s Garden: After God spent six days in the creation of this world, He entrusted part of His creation to the hands of Adam. The Bible says that Adam was put in the Garden of Eden “to work and to care of it.” We all may have our own definition or purpose of our work, but God specified clearly that whatever work God assigns us, we should do our best to “take care” of His assignment. It is for His world or our assignment we need to do well for it is our duty to God.
3) It is never something easy: “To Adam God said: Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you must not eat of it. Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food.” (Gen. 3:17-19) I am sure no one needs any explanation why work is so hard, no matter what your work may be. This is the punishment God has pronounced on all human beings because of the rebellious acts of Eve and Adam. Work is hard. But it is life.
4) It must be diligent and honest: “Obey your earthly masters not only to win their favor when their eyes is on you but like slaves of Christ doing the will of God from your heart. Wholeheartedly as if you were serving the Lord, not men,” (Ephesians 6:6-7) Also read the parable of the “Talents” in Luke 19, among other things, Jesus was teaching us the importance of being honest and diligent to God’s assignment of work. Paul was trying to encourage the early Christians, especially those who were slaves to be diligent and honest in their assigned work. Many similar teachings on this can be found all through the Bible.
HARMFUL IDEAS ON
1) Life is all about work: Many people exist for their work. All they can think of everyday, every moment is their work. They will feel life is empty without work. So, they work, and work, and work and work. All they know about life is about their work. We call these people workaholics. To them, the purpose or meaning of life is to work. To these people, if there is no work, their existence has no purpose or value.
2) My work is my identity: This is a more common phenomenon and it happens to many of us. Many of us identify our selves and others by their work: their title, position, nature or degree of success of their work. All you need to see is look at the titles and nature of work on their name cards. We usually identify people by what they do and how much they have achieved in their work. The level of success in their titles represents their value as persons. Just imagine if someone gives you a name card with only their name on it, what will you feel about him? We put work and achievements of work over and above people.
3) My work is all for money: Decent work gets decent pay is fair and biblical. Everyone needs to work to get paid to support life and family. But to put money as the whole purpose of work is a wrong way to live. It not just degrades the dignity of work, but also degrades the dignity of life. No one should live and work just for making money, but too many people live their lives that way. There should be more reasons and purposes in our work such as personal development, sense of fulfillment, contribution to others and demonstrating our honesty and ability in our work.
4) I never like what I do: Have you seen some one who is never happy with the work he/she has? They never like the work they have but have to work because they need to make a living. They are in constant complaint of their work and always in search of a better one. I don’t mean you have to stick to one job all your life, but to change job every 2-3 years is problematic to your career and emotional happiness. Anyone who never likes his work usually will not put in his bet effort in it. We see people like this in all walks including pastors. You can’t expect these people to be productive and successful in what they do.
1) We have a good model: “Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished his work he had been doing, so on the seventh day he rested from his work.” (Genesis 2:1-2) Being the God who had the power to create everything from nothing, but took a day off when his work was done, what can we interpret his example and see what he wants us to learn in this. If God, being all powerful wanted to take rest from his work, how much more we, being finite human beings, frail and fragile, need to learn from him so we also need to take time off from our work. God never intends we work non-stop regardless of our life situation.
2) We need to be set apart: “And God blessed the seventh day and made it holy because on this day he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.” (Genesis 2:3) Later on, God set this day of rest in the Ten Commandments and called it the Sabbath that means “the seventh.” (Exodus 23:12) The Hebrew word we translate “holy” means “be set aside for God.” God allows us to work six days a week for our needs, taking care of business, do things we are assigned to do. But on the seventh day, He wants us to set it “for the Lord” to take care of our spiritual needs. We are not just responsible to our worldly duties we are also responsible to our spiritual relationship with God. Our spiritual needs are as real and important as our physical needs.
3) We need to be balanced: “Six day do your work, but on the seventh day do not work so that your ox and your donkey may rest and the slaves born in your household, and the aliens as well, may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12) God created all of us and all the things we see, know and use. He knows how everything may break if we don’t allow time for rest. God is not just powerful he is also merciful. “For God knows how we are formed, he remembers that we are dust.” (Psalms 103:14) This divine command has become the universal standard of the world today, including people who do not follow biblical beliefs. At least one day a week, people are to rest from their work. Different lines of work may have different days off but all have observed the law God set thousands of years ago. God wants us to know life is not all about work.
4) We have a precious soul: “And I will say to myself: You have plenty of good things laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry. But God said to him: You fool. This very night your life will be demanded from you. Who will get what you have prepared for yourself?” (Luke 12:19-20)God wants us to know that our soul is much more important than our work and all the good things we labor for. While we all need to be faithful in discharging our duties at work, God wants us to know that we need to treasure our souls much more than our work. Do the math, make the right choice. What is work and all of its fruits if you don’t have life to enjoy them? What is more if you are busy in your work and miss the importance of seeking eternal life of your soul?
1) Thank God for our work: Work provides us opportunity to use the talents God has given each one of us. Work also allows us to be productive, like bear fruits. Work also allows us to learn how to work with others on things that takes more than one person to do. The fruits of our work also give us sense of satisfaction and accomplishment. When God gives us work, we need to be thankful and faithful.
2) Don’t turn work your idol: Life is much more than work even it is an important part of our life. We need to be careful not to allow work take control of our life, time, energy or focus. There are other things that are more important than work such as health, family, relaxation, salvation and God. Never forget our soul or overlook our spiritual needs in the midst of busy work schedule. People will forget what you have done in a few years, but your soul will live forever.
3) Stop, look and think: Stop your work for a moment, look at your life and think of your future, do you really like your work habit or goal of life? Do you need something more meaningful to make your life more content? Think of your soul and God. It is never too late to rearrange the priority of your life from all about work to more about soul and God.