Christian Attitude Towards Work, Part 1
From the beginning when God created Adam, in Genesis 1:15, we read that “God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it”.
We often see work as something stressful and undesirable and some of us even imagine that Heaven will be a place where the angels sit around on clouds and do nothing. The truth is that God created work and God said it was good. Actually work is a blessing and whatever our hands find to do, we are told to do it with all our heart as it is a meaningful way of preoccupation. We will find fulfilment from using the gifts and the strength that God has given to us in order to expand ourselves in meaningful labour.
Did God pay money to Adam for His work in the garden? No. Then how did God reward Adam for taking care of the Garden of Eden? He gave him the privilege of naming the animals that He made and He provided for Adam’s needs by providing him with the food that he needed. God even rewarded Adam by making for him a suitable companion, the woman to accompany him while he worked.
The following passage of scripture on work is so rich in meaning that it took me many years to meditate on it in order to better appreciate what it was teaching me.
22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favour, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord
23 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,
24 since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favouritism.
For many years, I asked myself why working Christians in my office, including myself, struggled just as much as non-Christians, with regards to disappointments in promotions, performance bonuses and so on. It didn’t feel right. As Christians, I know that we should be having victories in all areas however, in this area, we do not seem to be different from non-Christians. I asked myself why we were behaving and feeling like the rest of our non-Christian colleagues. In fact, I noticed that some of our non-Christian colleagues might even seem to be accepting such disappointments better than the Christians. Are we missing something here?
We are told in the passage in Colossians Chapter 3 that we are to work for the Lord and not for human masters, that is, our bosses. However, in real life, most of us work for the salary and not for God, even though we may profess with our lips that we work for God.
When we start out to work, we look forward to our first pay cheque and most of us will settle for a job that pays us more than the others. We often work for the money and when we do so, we expect to be rewarded with money for the work that we do in terms of productivity bonuses, promotions, and other benefits.
Somehow after we have become Christians, we did not readjust our objectives for working and we continue to work for the money just like most of the rest of the world.
The acid test comes when we are not promoted or do not get the kind of bonus that we expected. If we find ourselves very, very disappointed with not getting a promotion or a good performance bonus, we need to check our hearts. Are we still serving money or are we serving God in our work and trusting in Him to reward us in due time?
If we work for the Lord, what does the Bible tell us we can expect? In Colossians 3:24, we are told that we will receive our “reward from the Lord”. What reward is the Bible talking about? Higher bonus and promotions and pay rises? No, not necessarily.
I search my heart and ask, “What exactly is it about promotions and bonus that seem so attractive?” They all have to do with money… we like to get more money.
We are told in the Bible, that we cannot serve both God and money but most of us who profess to love God, actually may be serving money when we work.
Many of us Christians mentally separate the secular from the spiritual. As such, as far as our work is concerned, we are exactly behaving and thinking like the non-Christians as we work for the money and fight for promotions and higher bonus just like them.
Some of us Christians even wrongly believe that we have an extra edge against our non-Christian colleagues as we can pray for promotions and higher bonus and, doesn’t the Pastor teach that God loves us? If God loves us, surely He would want to give us more money because He knows that that will make us very happy. However, when we don’t get them, we are not only disappointed with the office, we may end up also disappointed with God.
Sometimes it gets even more painful when our Christian friends share with us that God has answered their prayers for promotion or higher bonus. We are then tempted to think that maybe God favours our friends more than us since He answered their prayers and not ours.
It is sad if we can only recognize money as reward and when God rewards us for our work in whatever other ways, we do not recognise or give thanks for them as we have taken them for granted. Good health, a comfortable home, loving family members, safety in our travels, favour with our friends, colleagues and relatives – these are some of the ways through which God richly rewards us. Have you thanked God for these yet?
Let us pray.
“Heavenly Father, thank You for reminding me today that my work is a gift from You and a way to glorify You. I repent of those times when I have forgotten it is You I serve at work and not my pay cheque or promotion. I thank You that Your ways are higher than my ways and the ways You reward me for my work are beyond what money and status can bring. I commit to in all things, give thanks to You and to always work at my job to glorify You. In Jesus’ Name, I pray. Amen.”