Work a necessary evil or a gift from God?
Pastor Robert Hellmann, St. Paul’s Ev. Lutheran Church, Montrose
“With a little bit . . . with a little bit . . . with a little bit of luck, you’ll never work!”
Do you agree with these words from the musical “My Fair Lady?” After all, work is hard, takes up most of your time, and never seems to pay as much as you want. You start to think, “If only I got lucky and won a lot of money so I didn’t have to work.”
Surprise! Work is not bad; it is a gift from God.
After God created Adam, on the sixth day, “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)
Before man had fallen into sin and while the world was still perfect, God gave man useful work to do. Why did God do a thing like that?
The reasons are many and good. God gave work to Adam so that he might provide food and the necessities of life for himself and his future family. Work would help to build the society that would follow.
Work is a gift from God, not a necessary evil. Without the work of many people, how could there be food in the supermarket for us to buy?
Without work, how could we have a house to live in, a car to drive, roads to drive on, and clothes to wear?
Without work, how could we have the money to buy anything?
To this, someone might reply, “You don’t understand. My boss is nasty. My coworkers are mean. I don’t get paid enough. I have to work too hard and too long.”
Yes, work can have a downside. That’s because we are sinful people living in a sinful world.
Right after Adam and Eve sinned, God gave them the promise of the Savior. Then God said to Adam, “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, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow, you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)
Work-related difficulties and problems remind us that we live in a sinful world that is in rebellion against God. It reminds us that each of us is a sinner before God. It reminds us that the devil is hard at work seeking to destroy us.
But God is also hard at work. He upholds the universe with His almighty power and makes it tick. He provides daily bread for all and watches over us.
In addition, Jesus talked about “the very work that the Father has given me to finish.” (John 5:36) What work is this?
“The Son of Man must suffer many things and be rejected by the elders, chief priests and teachers of the law, and that he must be killed and after three days, rise again.” (Mark 8:31)
Jesus did the hard work that no one else could possibly do. He offered full payment for the sins of everyone by dying on the cross. His resurrection on the third day proved that his work was totally successful.
Gladly receive by faith the forgiveness he freely offers you! As forgiven children of God, let us appreciate and honor the gift of work that God has given us.
All honest and productive work is good and is a blessing to mankind from God. Give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s wage. Avoid the sins of idleness, laziness, and stealing. But do not work so much that you have no time for God’s Word, worship, prayer, and also family responsibilities.
As you celebrate Labor Day, remember to thank God for the ability and opportunity to do useful work. All good things, including work, come from God.