“If a man will not work, he shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10 New International Version) is probably the most quoted verse on the subject of work. But the Bible has so much more to say about it.
“By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing” (Genesis 2:2 NIV). The French call it “fait accompli” which means an accomplished deed. Accomplishment is something everyone craves, from the youngest to the oldest from the meekest to the boldest. If you ever wanted anything so much that the thought of it motivated you to take action, to work until you got it; then you understand the satisfaction that comes from accomplishment. When God finished His creative work, He was very satisfied and said so: “God saw all that he had made, and it was very good” (Genesis 1:31 King James Version).
Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” (John 9:4-5 New King James Version) Well, maybe people didn’t work after dark in Jesus’ day, but they certainly do now and have for a long time. Jesus’ point was not to procrastinate in doing the works that God has put you in the world to do: “For we are God’s workmanship, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do.” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV) Whether you ever realized it or not, you are here on assignment – as Jesus was. The New Testament teaching on this is abundantly clear, i.e. every believer in Christ has a work or works that God intends to do through them: “God works in different ways, but it is the same God who does the work in all of us.” (1 Corinthians 12:6 New Living Translation) If you haven’t already, ask God to make plain what your assignment is and get to it. Time is wasting!
“Being confident of this, that he who began a good work in you will carry it on to completion until the day of Christ Jesus.” (Philippians 1:6 NIV) Being confident that you can do your job and do it well is very important to both employers and employees. But when it comes to doing the work of salvation in your life and mine, our confidence is not in us, but totally in the Lord. He is the One who started His work of grace in my life, and He is the One who will finish it successfully. Salvation is not my life’s work for the Lord; it is His work in my life: “For by grace you are saved through faith, and this is not from yourselves; it is God’s gift— not from works, so that no one can boast.” (Ephesians 2:8-9 Holman Christian Standard Bible)
“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.” (Genesis 2:3 NIV) When Mary and I were in Europe a while back, we discovered that on Sundays everything (well almost everything) shuts down. The shops are closed; even truckers on the road stop where they are and rest on Sundays. “Wow!” we thought. “We haven’t done this in America in a very long time!” Now sadly, most that stop their work on Sundays in Europe aren’t doing it to attend church and worship God. But at least they still recognize the importance of resting from their work. God needed no rest – He’s God after all. But by resting He set an example for us which is very good that we follow. Jesus trained His disciples to take time to rest, even from the busy-ness of the Lord’s work (Mark 6:31).
This Labor Day we celebrate again the significance of both labor and the laborers. Few things in life give a greater sense of satisfaction with life than a job well done. As a believer in Jesus Christ, your job, whatever the job, is an assignment from God. Do it with your might (Ecclesiastes 9:10); do it for His glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). Be confident in knowing that the work the Lord started in you, He will finish in you. And take time to rest. After all, it is a holiday.