Hard work is a vital component to our Sabbath rest.
Sounds like a contradiction, doesn’t it?
I thought so too.
I realized IT’ WASN’T!
I’ve always read Genesis 2:2 as: ‘On the seventh day God rested.’ But that’s not what’s written. It actually says:
On the seventh day God had finished His work of creation, so he rested from all His work. (NLT)
Read that again.
God finished His work of creation—THEN He rested from all His work that He had done. (ESV)
Was all His work done? Of course not! But His work of creation was.
So, He rested.
Desperate to gain insight into how to be victorious in the work/rest imbalance, I studied days 1-6 of creation in Genesis 1. It was then I discerned God was modeling how we should work! He was giving us principles to employ so we can find pleasure, joy, and fruitfulness in our work.
As I read, the quality of God’s work overwhelmed me! I watched Him work with excellence, diligence, and…get this…excitement! He put His whole self into it. While God worked, He was focused. Precise. Detailed. Ensuring it was all put together just so. And it was all good. Very Good!
To my chagrin, I realized my work ethic was a far cry from His. And my enthusiasm was almost dead—I had been running on empty for far too long.
But, praise Jesus, that’s beginning to change thanks to the 6 principle He revealed as I studied His work of creation.
Six Work Principles From God’s Work of Creation
1) First, Saturated Everything in God’s Glory
What do I mean? Look at God’s first recorded words in Scripture, “Let there be light!” Where did that light come from? The sun, moon, and stars weren’t created until day 4. So, where. Did. This. Light. Come. From?
Oh my friend, don’t miss this—the light came from the radiance of His glory! HE was the source of the light! (Read more about that here)
When we approach work (of any kind) we must to saturate it in prayer, put it under God’s authority, and submit ourselves completely to Him. Every. Single. Day! Every single task, job, chore, etc.
And on those difficult days? Repeating this principle multiple times, or even moment-by-moment is a powerful and viable option.
It doesn’t matter if you’re heading out the door to your job, classes, or volunteering. If you’re working from home, doing ministry, starting a business, or taking on-line courses. It doesn’t matter if you’re neck-deep in a project, cleaning the house, mowing the lawn, or raising children. We must saturate whatever we’re doing in prayer. Offering it up as a sacrifice of praise to Him, And, in come cases, ensuring it’s His will for us to proceed.
Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. (Colossians 3:23)
2) Had a Plan and Work the Plan
God had a plan and completed each step in a specific time period. He was realistic about the time He set for each element of the plan. And then He got after it.
Each day when we’re setting out to work, we need to make a plan
- To ensure we know everything we need to do that day
- To ensure things are done in the proper order
- To ensure everything is completed in a timely manner
I’m good at this—to a point. I excel at taking big projects and breaking them down into logical steps and laying these steps out onto paper. But where I’ve failed is in the day-to-day implementation.
I either became impatient and tried to cut corners by omitting something or doing something out of order “to save time.” Which of course, never works long-term. Instead, I inevitably made massive messes and lost valuable time cleaning up those messes and backtracking to where I blundered—or starting over completely.
Or I became discouraged because I wasn’t realistic about what I’m able to accomplish each day. I routinely underestimated the time things take. I didn’t factor in family life, life’s unexpecteds, illness, other responsibilities, or ________. And most devastating of all—I didn’t omit, eliminate, or ignore my distractions. I fed them and let them lead me.
So now I’m breaking down things further, determining not to rush things, and being proactive about my distractions (like keeping my phone in another room while I work)—or at least I’m trying to.
Once we have a plan we need to bring it before God and ask Him to guide our steps. And then, follow His lead.
We can make our plans, but the Lord determines our steps. (Proverbs 16:9)
3) Take Pleasure in Your Work
On day 3, God created dry land and organized the waters into seas. Let that rest on you a moment. We often lament the impossibility of taming the tide, revealing our desire to be in control. But the truth is, only God in control! Of the tide. Of us. Our plans. Our futures. Everything. However, when He spoke His will to the tide it wasn’t only tamed, it was moved! (See why we must first put our plans under His authority and submit to His will?)
Then, He created every kind of plant, looked around, and for the first time said, “It is good!”
Excitement/pleasure in our work is not a dream or by-product but a command. Excitement is an attitude, and attitude is a choice. Even if the work is mundane, boring, and uninspiring—like mating socks—we can find joy in it knowing we have socks to wear, knowing our kids’ feet are safe and warm, knowing God has given us this blessing. So, when I mate my family’s socks, I typically pray for the owner of the socks I working on with praise music in the background.
Work hard to show the results of your salvation, obeying God with deep reverence and fear. For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him. (Philippians 2:12b-13)
4) Use the Gift of Time Wisely
God created time for our benefit and blessing. It’s a limited resource we must steward well as we strive to maintain the work-rest balance. We must be mindful of distractions and employ self-control to ignore them so we can work with excellence.
For me, this is a never-ending battle. But one I’m determined to master.
So be careful how you live. Don’t live like fools, but like those who are wise. Make the most of every opportunity [making the best use of the time, ESV] in these evil days. Don’t act thoughtlessly, but understand what the Lord wants you to do. (Ephesians 5:15-17)
5) Share Our Work With Others
This is not limited to writers, speakers, and podcasters. This is not kept from those who aren’t in ministry, the medical industry, or education. This principle is for everyone!
When we work with excellence we are to share it so it can increase and multiply.
What do I mean? Our work is to honor God AND bless and encourage others.
For example, my writing and speaking is influenced by other authors, whether in Scripture or other books, blog posts, etc. My work is my own, but their knowledge and insight influence me greatly.
The same is true in your work. Truth is, we all stand on someone’s shoulders/previous work. Therefore, your work may be the missing link, needed inspiration, or directing influence needed in someone else’s work. Your experiences can help others avoid your mistakes so they can be more efficient, use their time wisely, and start the cycle over.
If you are a thief, quit stealing. Instead, use your hands for good hard work, and then give generously to others in need. (Ephesians 4:28)
6) Put Yourself Into Your Work, Let It Bear Your Mark
As a writer, speaker, and soon-to-be podcaster it’s impossible not to do that. I share who I am and what makes me tick with each post and Bible study I write. With each lesson I teach and episode I record.
But this principle is bigger than that.
When our work “bears our mark” we’re not only claiming it as ours, proclaiming it’s something we are proud of and had been blessed and honored to be a part of—we’re confidently able to present it to our God as a holy sacrifice for His good pleasure. After all, He was the One who blessed it, saturated it with His glory, and willed it to come to fruition.
It is by His grace we are able to work well and earn the commendation, good and faithful servant.
But whatever I am now, it is all because God poured out his special favor on me—and not without results. For I have worked harder than any of the other apostles; yet it was not I but God who was working through me by his grace. (1 Corinthians 15:10)
Beloved, God demonstrated the pleasure and joy found in work done with excellence. And then…He passed that on to us…
Until next time…
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