In some way or other work is a part of everyone’s life. As such it is a subject deeply worthy of our attention. The flip-side of the Fourth Commandment on keeping the Sabbath day holy says: “Six days you shall labour, and do all your work” (Exodus 20:9) – not all your “something or other”! “Work for six days? Dreadful thought!” moans one. “What a pleasure – make it seven!” says the workaholic. Says the unemployed person, “Just give me work, any work. I am soul-destroyed for lack of work.” “I love my work”, says the missionary doctor.
The above responses to the Fourth Commandment indicate an assortment of views and experiences of work, revealing that all of us probably get this critical component of life wrong at some point or other. The fact is that we are all in a relationship with work – whether it be joyous, obsessive, stressful or grievous – and whether we handle it with diligence, laziness, delight or resentment. All the more reason to seek the relationship with it which the Bible desires for us.
Celebration and creativity, worship and service, diligence and restfulness, industry and leisure, compassion and justice, honesty and integrity – all these things are key components in the challenging mechanisms and meanings of work as seen in the Scriptures. And for the Lord’s citizens wherever they are, we all have to work to find God’s best way for us in our work, above all doing whatever we do “heartily, as serving the Lord” (Colossians 3:23) and seeking “first His Kingdom and His righteousness”, knowing that as we do this, all other things will be given to us “as well” (Matthew 6:33), including meaningful work.