'Work, Rest & Play' – the famous slogan by Mars Bar™.
I'm not entirely sure that it's the best tag line to entice you to buy a chocolate bar. Nonetheless, these three words are exceedingly relevant for us today. In an overwhelmingly busy and fast paced society, these words can help us see clearly through the fog and give us direction and purpose in our lives.
So lets begin with work.
I love work. I thank God for His good gifts in life and especially the blessings of work. Yet, grating against the joys of work is my desire to never stop.
I'm a workaholic.
I've never had a normal 9–5 job. Prior to working at City on a Hill, I ran my own design studio. For as long as I've been in the workforce I've set my own hours, meetings, projects and tasks. You may think that would be heaven. I'm not complaining, I love the flexibility it brings, but it also fuels my workaholism.
However, the question at the forefront of my mind is what happens when work becomes an addiction? Where do we draw the line? Should we change careers? Do we persist and get deeper and deeper entangled in our addiction?
Don't quit your jobs.
Lets see what the Bible has to say about work.
THE START OF WORK
Firstly, it's important to understand where work came from. The Bible is clear from the start that work is good! Work is a God-given gift and part of His creation. We learn from the creation account (Genesis 1–3) a little of God's work ethic, as it was planned, productive, pleasurable and purposed.
Let’s flesh this out a bit.
God had a plan. He knew what he wanted to do and when he wanted to do it. His plan was structured and efficient. He had a clear vision, outcome and timeline of where things were heading for each day. Moreover, He was productive. He didn't muck about, miss His deadlines or change His plans. He stuck to His guns, completed His tasks and got the job done. Furthermore, God gained great pleasure in what He was doing. Each day culminated in joy with the phrase, 'And God saw that it was good'. God was pleased with what He had created and after the creation of mankind He saw that everything He had made was 'very good'! Work for God was pleasurable; it brought Him great joy seeing the results of His innovation and handiwork.
However, the climax of the creation account is when God made humanity. From dust He formed man in the image and likeness of Himself. What's more He purposed man for work.
"The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15).
This commission extends to all humanity. We are to take great joy in our work as it gives us direction and purpose (Ecclesiastes 3:22). Effectively, we are called to model God's work ethic.
THE HEART OF WORK
Nevertheless, these principles don't matter if our attitudes and motives behind work aren't right. It's all well and good understanding the origins and purpose of work but that doesn't necessarily help our addiction to it. Beneath our desire to work needs to be a heart aligned with Jesus. In Colossians, Paul writes,
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ." (Colossians 3:23–24)
Jesus, who partook in the creation of the universe (Colossians 1:15–16), embodied himself as a man and experienced work. He can sympathise with us as He had an everyday job just like us; He was a carpenter (Mark 6:3). Yet, His greatest work was displayed in His death and resurrection. He came to serve by dying on a cross (Mark 10:45) and rising victorious over sin and death (1 Corinthians 15:57).
The underlying idol for many of us is not our careers but who it is we are working for. Sure, we must work hard (Ecclesiastes 9:10), and not be lazy (Proverbs 21:25), we can even love our careers and take great joy and pride in what we do but we must be working for Jesus.
So what can we conclude? Are you a workaholic for Jesus or are you seeking the approval of someone else? Do you desire money, glory and fame, or are you striving to serve Jesus?
Our Father wants us to enjoy the blessings of life, not to abuse them. So love work, exceed in your careers, and grow in your skills as I know Someone who would be proud of your efforts. But lets get things straight – work hard for Jesus because He deserves all the glory (1 Corinthians 10:31)!