God demonstrated the pleasure and joy found in work done with excellence. (read more about that here)
He passed that same pleasure and joy onto us.
As creatures created in God’s very own image, we were always meant to work. And work was intended to bring us pleasure and joy—total satisfaction from a job well done. It was to give us purpose and fulfillment. Delight and excitement.
And then came The Fall.
In the wake of Adam and Eve’s rebellion, God cursed the ground, making our work difficult and strenuous. We now have obstacles to overcome as we reach for our goals. Stumbling blocks to our dreams. Detours to our destinations. Our work is no longer easy, but arduous. It now takes effort and diligence. It requires us to deliberately seek God in everything we do, asking Him to guide our every step in this hostile world.
But it wasn’t God who warped work’s perfect joy and pleasure—it was sin. Our sin.
Pride partnered with selfishness and entitlement to impose drudgery upon our work. Words such as endeavor, strive, strain, plod, sweat, slave, and toil not only became synonymous with work but replaced the word ‘work’—exposing our resentment toward our gift.
Moreover, Satan has deceived us into believing God is hateful and unfair. That He’s to blame for this “injustice.” That this curse is a vindictive maneuver, not a consequence of our sin. In the backwash of this deception, bitterness clouds our perception as we focus on our obstacles and stumbling blocks rather than on our God who is able help us overcome our challenges. We habitually zero in on the negatives and complain when things don’t go our way. This drives us to be even more disgruntled, stressed, and burned out!
And the result?
We play right into Satan’s hands.
We’re too weary to study Scripture and pray. Our relationship with God grows cold. Our faith erodes along with our moral character and integrity.
My friend, this is no way to live! Especially as a Follower of Jesus Christ. Trust me, I’ve tried.
When turn our back on Stan’s lies and focus on God in whatever we’re doing, our work or service becomes and act of worship—a joyful experience of liberation! Satan’s lies ENSLAVE us, but our heartfelt, authentic acts of worship set us FREE!Tweet
But there is another way!
We can choose a different perspective that would reignite the joyful excitement in our work and help us appreciate the gift it really is.
It’s true, God’s curse will remain until Jesus comes back, establishes His Eternal Kingdom, and creates The New Heaven and New Earth.
However, TODAY, in this moment, our focus and attitude are our responsibility. We choose them. They’re in our hands. In our control. We’ll still face obstacles and road blocks, but through the Spirit living in us, we have the power to reject Satan’s lies, look to Jesus with clear vision, and embrace the gift work was meant to be.
Let’s start by looking back at Genesis 2:15.
In this verse, the verb “tend” is the Hebrew word ‘abad.’ It means to work and to serve. And the object of that work or service can either be things, people, or God. Interestingly, in regards to things and people this word often has an undertone of drudgery, toil, and slavery. However, in regards to God, there are NO such connotations, “but instead, a joyful experience of liberation!”1
Why? Because the focus of our work or service is an act of worship!
Please don’t miss this like I did!
When turn our back on Stan’s lies and focus on God in whatever we’re doing, our work or service becomes and act of worship—a joyful experience of liberation! Satan’s lies ENSLAVE us, but our heartfelt, authentic acts of worship set us FREE!
This reinforces Paul’s exhortation to work for God rather than people, wouldn’t you say?
God created you with a distinct purpose in mind. You were created for this specific time, place, & culture. After you accepted His Son as your Savior, He filled you with His Spirit, enabled you to understand His Word, and gave you the desire & power to do what pleases Him.Tweet
My precious friend, when God created you, He had a distinct purpose for you in mind.
You are walking on this planet for a reason!
He deliberately created you for this specific time, place, and culture. After you accepted His Son as your Savior, He filled you with His Spirit, marking you as His. He opened your mind and heart to understand the teachings in His Word. And He gave you the desire and power to do what pleases Him.
Furthermore, He called you to be relevant in your culture, without being absorbed by it. To know Him, love Him, and obey Him. To share His message of love, grace, and eternal life with those around you. To disciple and encourage other Believers, new and old, to hang on and continue to grow in their faith. This is in essence the Great Commission.
Are you starting to see what a gift work is?
My friend, you were created for God’s good pleasure.
And, get this, you’re also invited to participate in His Plan by utilizing your specific set of God-given gift and talents in your work! To be clear, God doesn’t need you. He can make His plan happen all by Himself. But He wants to include you. In all your frailness. With all you insecurities. Despite all your fear and lack of skill. All He asks, is for you to be a willing vessel. Amazing, isn’t it?
This doesn’t mean you have to sell everything and move to the mission field. Nor does it mean you have to go into full-time ministry. It does mean we should employ the six work principles He gave us in creation wherever He has us—including in the secular world.
Especially in the secular world.
It’s up to us to be a bright light in the increasing darkness. To preserve and spread the message of the Gospel. To spur each other to remain faithfully vigilant as we wait for Christ’s return. When we do our work with excellence, as a form of worship, remembering the purpose He’s given us, we proclaim through our efforts Whose we are. Then in our places of employment, homes, schools, churches, and volunteer organizations—our work not only sets us free, but it can lead other to freedom as well.
You’re invited to participate in God’s Plan by utilizing your specific set of God-given gift and talents in your work! To be clear, God doesn’t need you. He can make His plan happen all by Himself. But He wants to include you. In all your frailness. With all you insecurities. Despite all your fear and lack of skill. All He asks, is for you to be a willing vessel.Tweet
What does this have to do with the work-rest imbalance?
I believe the answer is found in Elisabeth Elliot’s counsel: “Work is a blessing. God has so arranged the world that work is necessary, and He gives us hands and strength to do it. The enjoyment of leisure would be nothing if we had only leisure. It is the joy of work well done that enables us to enjoy rest, just as it is the experiences of hunger and thirst that make food and drink such pleasures.”
Our culture has bought into and perpetuates Satan’s lie. It pushes us to burnout, telling us success isn’t found any other way. It makes God’s command for Sabbath rest sound ludicrous, His take on the work/rest imbalance, crazy. But when we choose to obey Him and do things His way, we won’t only discover the lies we believed as truth. We’ll realize God’s way actually increases our efficiency and the quality of our work as it enhances our restorative rest!
Until next time…
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