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Does My Work Matter?

7 minutes to read

I believe that many of us have asked this question at least once in our lifetime. Or for some of you maybe more than once. Maybe even often! We ask this question when reality fails to meet our expectations, when results don’t match our efforts, and when our tireless labour meets with failure. “Was it worth the time? Was it worth the effort? Was it worth the strains? Does my work matter?”

In this article, we will examine this question with the bedrock of the truth that the Bible teaches about our work (pastoral, domestic, office, etc.) and calibrate our minds according to Scripture’s teaching. And it is good to start with what the Bible teaches about work, that it is good.

When work seems meaningless and tiresome, remember that we do live in a Fall-affected world.

Work Is Good
Contrary to what most people believe, the Bible teaches us that work is good. All legitimate work is good. We find this truth in God creating Adam to work even before the fall. In Genesis 2:15, we find God taking Adam and putting him in the garden of Eden to work and keep it. And in the same chapter in verses 19 and 20, we find Adam working giving names to “all the livestock and to the birds of the heavens and to every beast of the field.” And that is not his only job, he had others too. Imagine with me for a moment the kind of work Adam was engaged with. He must have been very very busy. And what surprises me is that all these work allotments he had from God, he was doing it all alone! Yet we don’t find Adam complaining in any way. “God, I am alone, this is not fair!”, “This is too much to handle”, “Ugh! Me again?!” But we find Adam working hard, later joined by his wife Eve, with joy and delight fulfilling his God-given vocation manly, responsibly, faithfully, and with-it glorifying God, displaying the image he bears of his Creator to the world. God created Adam and Eve to have dominion over His creation, to be fruitful, multiply, and fill the earth. And in order to execute all that God has commanded, Adam and Eve had to work with all their might. So dear reader, work is good. God works and He wants His image-bearers to work. Can anything “not good” flow from our “all-good” God?

Sin Makes Work Difficult
It was a glorious reality before the Fall for man and woman to work hard without painful toil. But the curse of the Fall changed everything, work included. But we need to understand that work is not the result of the Fall but difficulty in working is. R. Kent Hughes rightly states, “The Curse made nature uncooperative, so that work became a painful toil and man had to sweat for a living.” Working hard has become difficult with various pains and health degradation. Thorns, thistles, pain, and sweat along with becoming irresponsible, excuses, grumbling, greed, laziness, procrastination, etc. have made man difficult to work hard. Our rebellion against God has marred the beautiful design and purpose of work. Sin has turned the delight of work into drudgery. Work, which once was pleasant has become unpleasant. Dear reader, when work seems meaningless and tiresome, remember that we do live in a Fall-affected world. A sense of futility in work is difficult to deal with, but it is not out of step with the reality we live in.

But this is not the end of the story. Our never-changing God has secured to fulfil His never-changing purpose in the redemption we have in Christ Jesus even in the sphere of our work no matter how small and tiring at times the work may seem.

Our every good work, no matter how unglamorous and tiring it may be, matters to God.

Work Is Still Good Because of Christ’s Redemption
If there were no redemption, every pessimistic view of work would be proved right. There would be no good purpose to pump ourselves and others alike to even work, let alone faithfulness and diligence. But praise God for the redemption we have in Christ Jesus. The destructive effect of sin upon work is now reversed by His redemption through His holy blood which was purposefully shed for us. Indeed, we still face difficulties and discouragements in our work. But those are not strong enough to discourage us before the greater purpose of fulfilling the grand plan of God which we as believers now have the privilege to partake in through redemption. In Ephesians 2:10, we are told of our new identity of a “workmanship” created in Christ Jesus for good works. And we are further told that those good works are what God has intended for each Christian to work and that He Himself has planned those before the foundation of the world. And the overarching theme which we find in Ephesians through all the good works of a Christian is “to the praise of God’s glory.” There we have the ultimate end game of our good works because of Christ’s redemption. And if that is the ultimate goal of our good works (and it is), work, even though marred by sin and shame, is still good and its purpose has never changed at all because of Christ’s redemption.

Fighting the Fight
As all work (unless unbiblical, immoral, or illegal) is still good through Christ even amidst the sin-marred world with all distractions and toiling, it still matters. And our every good work, no matter how unglamorous and tiring it may be, matters to God. Knowing and believing this, we should work hard and work hard faithfully. Finally, here are some practical applications to consider:

In Romans 8:28-29, Paul stated that all things work together for the good of all believers. And in the “all things” which God works for “our good,” our day-to-day works, from small to large, from spectacular to least spectacular, all are included. And “our good” is that we are conformed to be like our Christ. It will be foolishness on our end to give ourselves to laziness for it is condemned by our God. It won’t help us to conform to Christlikeness. So, we should work diligently wherever God has called us whether it may be as parents, husbands, wives in a family, pastors and staff in the church, as a student or teachers in school, whether in white or blue colour jobs, in the military, etc. for it is God’s means of grace to make us like His Son.

In 1 Corinthians 10:31, we are told, “…to do all to the glory of God.” Our good works included. This is the ultimate goal of our existence as Christians. We want to glorify God through, in, and from our lives and in all that we do. This truth also shapes our work ethics. Letting this truth impact our daily work, we should do it as to the Lord, for the Lord, and to the glory of the Lord. And even if our work may go unrecognized before men, our good God who sees our faithfulness in secret will reward us with an unfading reward, unlike men’s passing praise. When that will happen (and it will happen), we will gladly say, “It was worth the wait.”. May the Lord help us to work faithfully for him.

Footnote: I have not written this article from an ivory tower. For some of the things I have written, I have struggled. I have not “arrived,” but am pressing on by the grace of our God in some of what I have written. Like any struggling saint, I have contemplated upon my life as I study the current subject and have sought and am seeking God’s ever-abiding mercy and strength. I hope and pray that we will all grow in our faithfulness in working, all for the glory of our God who gave His only Son for us.

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