The Theology of Work - The Blessing of Stress Free & Meaningful Hard Work

A good understanding of work and our salvation will enables to work with great joy, energy and creativity to produce excellent work to show forth God's glory through the empowering of the new inner in Christ. This is how you can enjoy the working in the process and the fruits of your work.
Not sure when our Singapore society has become "we work for money" rather than "we work for meaning and fun". The "敬业乐业" Professionalism and the Joy of Work philosophy that I learned in my high school days were somehow lost in this great pursuit of money and high salary policy. “They don't work because they were not paid” was believe hold by many.

Even in the Christians circle that should at the very least, be some conscience of the society, has the ultra-grace and prosperity gospel people singing "Because we are deeply loved, highly blessed, greatly favored, hence we don't have to work. Some even said that work is of the flesh! It is better to let go and let God!".

Actually, we all want to hear what we want to hear ... just give me the blessings without the hard work; the shortcut to riches without the efforts and challenges.

It may be a good time to look at the theology of work and the blessings of hard but joyful work.

1. The Theology of Work:
  • Work is Fun. Hard work is even greater fun.
    We need to differentiate 
    1. the use of energy in working, 
    2. from the emotion work stress and worry in work, and 
    3. the output and outcome of the work.
    4. the environment where in the work take place (the 6M).

      I used to share that I am so blessed that my company pays me a lot to enjoy myself. It is in fact that I enjoy my work that I am able to work hard and long and produces productive and good work that I was rewarded for.
  • Work is Worship.
    In Hebrew, work and worship come from the same root word - Avodah meaning to work or to serve. Our good work reflects and shows forth the glory of God. God is glorified in our good work. 
  • Work is Meaningful
    Our unique calling as in Eph 2:10 gives us meaning to work (Eph 2:10  For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.) See  You are a Masterpiece Created in Christ
  • Work comes before Adam's sin.
    God asked Adam in Gen 1:28 to manage the world, to tend the garden(Gen 2:15 ...put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it) , name the animals(Gen 2:19)  before Adam sinned in Gen 3 and the curse on the ground that follows (Gen 3:17b the ground shall be cursed because of you; you shall eat of it in sorrow all the days of your life.). It is sinning that brings the curse of stress into work. Salvation brings the stress out of work but does not eliminate the work. Eph 2:10, we are saved for good work.
2. Matthew 6 Does not teach us not to work but Not to Worry.
It does not teach us not to plan (Jesus told us to count the costs) but not to worry. While the birds don't plant, they have to hunt for food. There are hunters and farmers in the ancient world. Now we have farmers, manufacturers, business and other kinds of services providers.

Many people are thankful for the contracts won and consider those as blessings of God. But we must watch out and not any good start of blessings to turn into curses. Winning big contracts are good start. But we do know of many companies, big and small, make big losses on big contracts won. It takes hard work and smartness to deliver the big contracts won to make big profits. Only then, can we be confident that they are blessings. Otherwise, it could just as well be devil's traps to sink us!

3. Biblical teaching is about the blessings of diligence and curses of laziness. 
Paul has a strong teaching on this as in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: "The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.". 
Proverbs has many verses on diligence and laziness. See the mind-map below:

4. It is all about Stress-Free & Meaningful Hard Work to Glorify God through Us
In Gen 3:17b cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life
There are two parts: 
  1. curse on the ground and 
  2. the pain to get food from the ground.
In Romans 8:19-21  "For the creation waits with eager longing for the revealing of the sons of God.  (20)  For the creation was subjected to futility, not willingly, but because of him who subjected it, in hope  (21)  that the creation itself will be set free from its bondage to corruption and obtain the freedom of the glory of the children of God.", we see that the curse on the ground is still on.

So what is remove must then be the pain of working the ground.
We must clearly see that our salvation from God has not be completed until the 2nd Coming of Christ and the creation of New Heaven and New Earth. Nevertheless, we are re-born as New Creation (2Cor5;17) from the inside, the inner man. The new inner man needs to grow up and overcome the old man as in Romans 12:1-2  I appeal to you therefore, brothers, by the mercies of God, to present your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and acceptable to God, which is your spiritual worship.  (2)  Do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewal of your mind, that by testing you may discern what is the will of God, what is good and acceptable and perfect.

So the stress, the worry, and the pains of hard work are removed by the Grace of God that we may find great joy, fun and the energy to work hard and long, the wisdom to work productively, producing excellent work for the glory of God through the inner man in Christ.

Hope to clarify and prevent misunderstanding ....

Lim Liat (c) 16 May 2013

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