A Christian Work Ethic

Last night, I enjoyed meeting with InterVarsity Christian Fellowship on CUP’s campus.  I had been asked to speak on “God’s View of Work v. The World’s View of Work.”  Here is a summary of what I shared.

INTRO:  We began with the question, “What motivates people to work?”  The students came up with some great answers, revealing different motivations: to provide for a family, to get away from a family, to make money, to satisfy ego …  Most of the answers reflected work as a necessity, something that we do because we have to do it, but something that we try to escape as often as we can by vacation or as soon as we are able by retirement.  But the Bible presents work from an entirely different viewpoint, not as necessity, but as pleasure:  “A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God.” Eccl. 2:24

So, how do we develop a Christian perspective of work?


I think the first step is to understand why human beings have a compulsion, an inner drive, to work.  It is because we are created in the image of God, and the God who created us in His image is Himself industrious.

Consider how this is reflected in the Biblical account of creation:

“Then God said, ‘Let us make man in our image, in our likeness, and let them rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air, over the livestock, over all the earth, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.’  So God created man in his own image, in the image of God he created him; male and female he created them. God blessed them and said to them, ‘Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.’ Then God said, ‘I give you every seed-bearing plant on the face of the whole earth and every tree that has fruit with seed in it. They will be yours for food. And to all the beasts of the earth and all the birds of the air and all the creatures that move on the ground—everything that has the breath of life in it—I give every green plant for food.’ And it was so. Gen. 1:26-30

Looking at Genesis 1 in this light, it becomes clear that God did not put us on the earth to roam freely, plucking fruit from wild trees that grow here and there, gathering grain that just happened to spring up naturally in a meadow, etc.  God put us here to work.

This is refelcted in the details related in Genesis 2:

“Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array. By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. 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. This is the account of the heavens and the earth when they were created.When the LORD God made the earth and the heavens—and no shrub of the field had yet appeared on the earth and no plant of the field had yet sprung up, for the LORD God had not sent rain on the earth and there was no man to work the ground.” Gen. 2:1-5

Can you see it?  God worked.  He found pleasure in His work.  Among His works, He created man in His image, including our desire to work and to find pleasure in doing so.

Many people picture the world to come as a paradise in which we idle away our time, sitting on a white beach, surveying pristine turqoise waters, eating grapes and drinking tea.  But the Bible contains no such notion.  It teaches us instead that God is restoring, or recreating, the world that Adam knew.  If we want to know what paradise will look like in the future, we need only look to see how paradise looked before sin plunged the cosmos into chaos, and that original paradise was a place of sweet and satisfying labor.

In the next post, we will look at Scriptures which provide a completely different attitude toward labor than the common prevailing attitudes.

gkr1996 posted at 2010-1-27 Category: Uncategorized