As we continue to consider God’s Pattern for Christian Manhood I would like to think through the idea of vocation as a calling rather than merely a job. As we do that it is important to remember that work was given before the fall. In other words, it did not come as a result of sin, even though it may feel that way sometimes. God has always intended that we should have something profitable to do. Genesis 2:5 and 2:15 speak of tilling, tending and keeping before sin entered the world. After the fall, work as toil and sweat would be the norm as we labor to get enough to eat and support ourselves. Also after the fall, things began to decay and wear out. The new car would eventually be on a junk heap. Our new Iphone will eventually be tossed way as hopelessly outdated. The fence in our yard will rust. All of this means there would be continued work to restore, maintain and rebuild.
God is opposed to laziness and sloth. I was interested to see that Psalm 104:23 speaks of man going out to his work for the day when the sun comes up and returning home when the sun is going down. Where were the unions then? And then in Exodus 20:9 God tells the people that they were to do all their work and labor in six days and rest on the seventh. It is a blessing of grace that God commands that we set aside one day a week for rest and worship. But from His point of view He’s thinking that we will be working and laboring the other six. Obviously we have created many tools to make our work easier, but even so, I think most of us will admit that work tends to be a chore, rather than a delight.
Consider these passages from Proverbs
10:4 He who has a slack hand becomes poor, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.
12:24 The hand of the diligent will rule, but the lazy man will be put to forced labor.
18:9 He who is slothful in his work is a brother to him who is a great destroyer
20:4 The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.
26:16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can answer sensibly.
It seems obvious to me that God is telling us that work is a good thing and we should be engaged in it regularly and faithfully. In addition, we should see our work as for God. In addressing slaves in Ephesians 6:6, Paul writes, “Slaves, obey your earthly masters with fear and trembling, with a sincere heart, as you would Christ, not by the way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but as servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, rendering service with a good will as to the Lord and not to man.” If this was said to slaves, how much more should we as free workers work as pleasing the Lord.
In the Christian world-view, work is a good thing. It is God-ordained for our good and his glory. It is to be looked at as meaningful as we have the opportunity to support our families and maintain a God-honoring testimony out in the world.