The Task at Hand: The Dignity of Work.

I am grateful for the comparative freedom I enjoy in the United States. But I am more grateful for the work that God has given me to do. When we remember that work is a gift from God, then we are better able to labor Coram Deo, before the face of God. May we do so with joyful hearts. May we do so as men and women, made in His image. And may we eat in peace of the fruit of our hands.” R. C. Sproul, Jr.

The vivid biblical description of a working God reaches its climax with the incarnation of Jesus. The “work” that Jesus was given to do (John 4:34) was, of course, the unique task of redemption (Romans 3:21-26). However, Jesus was also a worker in the ordinary sense. His contemporaries knew him as “a carpenter” (Matthew 13:53-58; Mark 6:1-3). In New Testament days, carpentry and joinery were muscle- building trades. As one commentator explains, “The Jesus who stormed through the temple, overturning tables and driving out the men and animals (John 2:14–16), was no pale weakling but a workingman whose hands had been hardened by years of toil with the ax, saw, and hammer. Hard, physical labor was not beneath the dignity of the Son of God.”

The narrative of mankind’s creation (Genesis 1-2) gives all human labor the mark of normalcy. God “took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). And God’s first command, to “fill the earth and subdue it” (1:28), implied a great deal of work for both man and woman. In an important sense, people today are obeying God’s command when they do their daily work, whether it be as a butcher, baker, or candle stick maker. People today are obeying God’s command whether they acknowledge him as Savior and Lord or not.

Work was not a curse as a direct result of the fall into sin (though sin did spoil working conditions, 3:17–19). Work was planned by God from the dawn of history for mankind’s good—as natural to men and women as a sunrise or sunset is to the day (Psalm 104:19–23).

Take time today to thank God for the work He has given you to do. The work may be hard, and tiring, but resolve to give God glory in the work that you perform and the tasks you complete.

Soli deo Gloria!

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