Kari Lee Fournier
As youngsters in kindergarten, our lifetime of labor begins quite ideally. We trudge off to the safety and security of the local schoolroom, and begin our early learning experiences amongst other youngsters.
As our memories float back to those treasured times, we quickly conjure up the joy of our eager young hands exploring our first musical instruments, the multi-colored Crayolas, the smell of Play-Doh…. And let’s not forget the relaxing naptimes, in anticipation of the yummy treat when waking from our rest.
Yet somewhere along the way, the grownup version of the workday enters our lives. Our day’s toil can be difficult, and usually includes one or two difficult coworkers. Nonetheless, working is a part of life—and so we do our best at meandering through all types of relationships.
When we look toward the Holy Bible for answers in dealing with our workday, we find plenty of guiding principles, beginning with Adam and Eve. After their fall into sin, God told Adam that he now would have to work the land, which now would yield thistles and thorns. Prior to the fall, Adam basically was a gardener who did not have to plant and harvest—he simply enjoyed gardening.
Jesus himself, the Lord of the universe, worked as a carpenter—which tells us that work is a basic component of our human experience on earth. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 states, “….If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” The Bible also advises that a man is to be paid according to the amount of work that he produces.
As well, laziness is described as one of the seven deadly sins. Proverbs 15:19 expands on that thought: “The way of the sluggard is blocked with thorns, but the path of the upright is a highway.”
How, then, do we approach our careers? Where do they fit into God’s plan for our lives? We are instructed on both of these issues.
The counsel of God advises us in Colossians 3:23-24, “And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ.” There is no work or service that excludes God. Ultimately, we work for him.
Further, Psalm 127:1 tells us that, “Unless the Lord builds the house, They labor in vain who build it;….” We need the right motives and methods when working.
Our day at work should be something that we can be proud of, especially in terms of how we treat others. Stepping on others to ascend the corporate ladder may be alluring to the power hungry, but it has absolutely no place in God’s second most important commandment of “Love your neighbor as yourself.” This is your family away from home. Treat them like it.
The workaholic is admonished, as well. In Matthew 6:19-21, it is written, “Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy…but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys….” Jesus is interested in relationship with him, not extreme workmanship.
Of course we need to support our families and pay our bills, but many go beyond that humble measure, striving to make a big name for themselves. Yes, they are making a name for themselves, as others watch on—but they may be surprised to know that others actually see them as insecure, self-centered, misguided, and weak.
When we think on those whom we really admire, it is always those who give an honest day’s effort, but who care not one whit what others think of them. Their accomplishments and belongings are not at all as important to them as how they treat others. Especially on the job site, where it can be more of a challenge.
Just because coworkers are not your blood family does not mean that they are any less in the eyes of God. They all are his children—and we do well to act accordingly. This does not mean offering a phony brand of kindness; it does mean demonstrating a spirit of authentic compassion, thoughtfulness, encouragement, and forgiveness toward others—always trying to build them up.
Doing the right thing at work for God becomes very easy when we remember that the greatest feat of labor came from the Lord Jesus Christ himself, the Son of God, who died for our sins and rose again—so that we may believe on him and have everlasting life. Truly a ‘Labor of Love’ like no other.Kari Lee Fournier
Member Calvary Lutheran Church
Green Bay, Wisconsin
© Kari Lee Fournier
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