The What and the Why of Work

~by Waylon Bailey

I grew up in the church and I was raised by Christian parents, but neither of those prepared me for God’s teaching about vocation and work. Vacation Bible school, Sunday school, and various Bible studies never fully equipped me to understand God‘s plan.

When you look at biblical teaching about work you find the what and the why.

The what is fairly easy to comprehend, at least it was for me. God created us for work. In the beginning before sin had entered the world, God put the man in the garden to till it and to keep it (Genesis 2:15).

God intended work to be fulfilling and meaningful. While it would certainly not be “easy“, neither would it be burdensome. You get every indication that there would be joy and encouragement in the man‘s work in the garden.

While growing up I was taught to work. To have a strong work ethic and to have pride in what you did was part of my upbringing. The necessity of making a living and doing your best to provide for your family was also a part of my teaching about work and finances.

I really think I got the part about the what. What I missed was the why.

It’s the why that makes work meaningful and significant.

Paul told the church at Colossae to do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus (Colossians 3:17). He told believing slaves to work sincerely–heartily–as for the Lord rather than for men. “It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Colossians 3:23-24).

Let your work be your worship. Do your best and give your all. That’s what God teaches.

Work as if you are presenting all you do to Christ. When we move from working for self or even for a salary and move to working for Christ, we find a new reason to work. Work becomes our gospel mission. It becomes the opportunity to please God and to make the gospel known and to reflect His image.

That’s the part I missed but the part I so desperately needed. So do you. So do we all.

“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks through him to God the Father” (Colossians 3:17).

Have a great week!