This time of year proves unique when it comes to work schedules. With Thanksgiving still in the rearview, we see Christmas up ahead of us. We spend more time with family, less time at work. We attend festivities without worrying about getting up early the next morning. And we think the schedule of life couldn’t get much better than this.
Most days, we think about work as the place we have to go to or the job we have to accomplish each day. We think of work as the way to reach Friday. The reason we could afford that house or vacation.
It’s easy to think of work as an inconvenience and the reason we don’t spend as much time with our families as we wish. But what if instead of inconvenience, it was desire? Instead of a curse, a blessing?
From glorious to toilsome
It’s a glorious thing, when you think about it. God worked for six days and created the heavens and the earth, the sky and land, all livings things. And when He created man, He didn’t say, “OK, you’ve got all the time in the world. Go have fun doing whatever you want!” No, He gave Adam a job to do.
You see, work was not a result of Adam and Eve taking the bite that brought upon the curse of sin. God did not punish humanity for its evil by instating labor as the new daily activity. Before the fall, work was a glorious and creative way to connect with God.
Our Creator instilled in us a desire for work. He gave us a productive way to express creativity and use the talents He wove into our beings. In the beginning, work wasn’t just a job or what brought home the paycheck. It was an expression of the passions and authorities given by God.
Nowadays, most people don’t think of work in that context. So what happened?
Sin, that’s what happened. Yet another area of our lives God created for His glory has been saturated with evil. When God cursed man for sin, He informed Adam humans would now have to painfully toil and sweat to produce anything from their work.
And just like that, what was once glorious, sin turned toilsome.
The fourth commandment
Sin cannot erase all signs of God. Yes, work doesn’t hold the same beauty as it did before the fall, but we are all still created with a desire to work. A desire that’s a good and perfect gift from our Father.
In fact, our desire for work remains strong enough that God created a commandment around it.
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:9-10, read the full commandment here).
Have you heard the phrase, “Man was not made for the sabbath, but the sabbath for man”? This alludes to the concept that, despite the curse, we still have a desire to work. However, because of our sin, our desire can become ungodly as we place work above all else.
Sure, we talk about how much we dislike our job or how we can’t wait for retirement. We say things along the lines of wanting to have enough money in order to never need to work again. But if we think about it, who really wants to live without a purpose of doing something each day? Even if you don’t go to an office or receive a paycheck, chances are you’re still working.
We don’t like feeling lazy or purposeless, which is a thought-process that’s a healthy gift from God. But we take that gift and allow temptation to pull us away by giving our lives to our work. We spend too much time in the office. We bring work home with us, we allow work to consume our thoughts.
And this is a reason why God commands us to set aside a day for no work: to focus back on Him.
Getting back to glorious
We can still think of work as a godly desire instead of an inconvenience. How? By remembering why God created us with this desire to work. He gave us gifts to use for His glory. To find ownership and make things more beautiful during our time on earth.
When we focus back on Him, we will praise Him for the work He has given us to accomplish. This life isn’t a way to waste time until Jesus calls us home. It’s a chance to create, to produce, to glorify.
But the moment we allow our desires for work to consume our lives, that’s when we grow burnt out and frustrated, overwhelmed and exhausted. Instead, let’s remember why we work and Who gave us the skills to work. Let’s get back to thinking of work as glorious instead of a curse. Let’s use the sabbath to rest, recuperate and reset our minds to ensure we’re fixing our gaze on Jesus.
As we come back to a place of looking at work as a glorious gift from God, we will spend each day basking in the beauty of our purpose. And we’ll praise God for our work.
Let’s Talk About It: How can you think of work as glorious instead of inconvenient?