A Call to Purposeful Work
Work is part of God’s creative design and therefore part of our purpose in life.
Work existed before the fall: God gave Adam and Eve the garden “to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). We were not fashioned to sit around and do nothing! Rather, we were made in the image of a God who loves to work and create.
The New Testament writers expect believers to work—not only to imitate our Creator but also to “help cases of urgent need, and not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14). This call to “work heartily” is not beyond our grasp; it is not an exhortation to be superhuman. Instead, it is an invitation to live quietly, mind our own affairs, and work with our hands (1 Thessalonians 4:11) so that we may provide not only for ourselves but also for those who are in particular need. Life’s routine activities are divine providences for us to “work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” In all our everyday responsibilities and commitments—whether they involve investing millions or changing diapers, working on a factory assembly line or plowing a field or sitting in a boardroom—we can view them as the very instruments God will use for His purposes and to glorify His name.
Working hard within the bounds God has ordained for us eliminates worry concerning the work of the person next to us. After all, we’re not the ones keeping the score, and neither are they! God, who is pleased when we work diligently on the tasks He has appointed us for, is the one who will give the rewards on the day we stand before Him. It is His approval of our work and how we think about it and conduct ourselves in it that matters, not primarily that of our boss, our colleagues, or ourselves.
In Paul’s instruction we find no loophole. It is a straightforward exhortation to work, and to work hard. Elsewhere in Scripture, Paul encourages Timothy also to command fellow believers to provide for their relatives, especially for members of their own households, “so that they may be without reproach” (1 Timothy 5:7). The implication is clear: when grace is at work in our lives, we will be committed to meeting the needs of our dependents and those who are in need.
You were made in the image of God and created for good works. No matter what your station in or stage of life, you have work to do today in God’s creation. Be sure to do it heartily, to the best of your ability. Be sure to do it with godliness, caring for God’s good opinion more than anyone else’s. And be sure to do it joyfully, however mundane, repetitive, or challenging it may be, for, in doing so, you are serving Christ and bringing glory to His name. That is enough to transform any task into something glorious!
30I passed by the field of a sluggard,
by the vineyard of a man lacking sense,
31and behold, it was all overgrown with thorns;
the ground was covered with nettles,
and its stone wall was broken down.
32Then I saw and considered it;
I looked and received instruction.
33A little sleep, a little slumber,
a little folding of the hands to rest,
34and poverty will come upon you like a robber,
and want like an armed man.
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