“Six days you shall labor, and do all your work.”
God created us for a purpose and he calls us for a purpose. At the heart of that purpose is the work we do every day. The importance of work as part of God’s design for us is clearly communicated in the Exodus 20.9 passage quoted above.
The word for “labor” in this verse abad, and it means to cultivate, till, or plow. The word for “work” is melakah, and it means to labor and do work. The important thing to understand is that this is God’s command to us, and it follows from his purpose for us. The Lord created us and put on this earth to do purposeful work and to cultivate.
It’s also important to note that melakah is used twice in Genesis 2.2 in reference to God himself: “And on the seventh day God finished his work (melakah) that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work (melakah) that he had done.”
There are four ways that our work serves God’s purposes. Our work is:
- Creative. Through our work we bring order and beauty to the world. We create. We build. We compete. We manage. We organize. We cultivate. Like the God who created us, we are creators and workers.
- Productive. Through our work we produce things that are necessary and helpful for people and society. Through our work we feed, clothe, house, warm, protect, heal, support, entertain, communicate, transport, etc.. Work is how the world works.
- Redemptive. Through our jobs we display what the redeemed life looks like when it is “at work.” This is vitally important, because too often people think of the redeemed life as a thing that happens “at church.” But God’s design, and the call of Christ, is about the power of redemption in all of life, including work.
- Restorative. Through our work we are agents of renewal in a broken world. Sin and death entered the world at the Fall. Death distorts. It breaks. Christians work to reverse the effects of death. We renew and restore. We apply principles and practices and processes so that things (and people) work better and are more productive.
Many have forgotten that the church isn’t a building, it’s a community of people. It is the Body of Christ. We are the church. On Monday morning, the church “goes to work.”
Work is how the world works. This is God’s plan.