1: “If God came into the world, what would he be like?” minister and author Phillip Jensen asks.
“For the ancient Greeks, he might have been a philosopher-king,” Phillip suggests. “The ancient Romans might have looked for a just and noble statesman.”
The Bible provides a different answer, Timothy Keller writes in Every Good Endeavor: Connecting Your Work to God’s Work. “In Genesis we see God as a gardener, and in the New Testament we see him as a carpenter,” he writes.
God is working from the very first verses of the Bible. “No task is too small a vessel to hold the immense dignity of work given by God,” Tim writes.
2: This view of work is very different from other religions and cultures. The ancient Greeks, for example, believed work was demeaning. “The Greeks understood that life in the world required work, but they believed that not all work was created equal,” Tim writes. “Work that used the mind rather than the body was nobler, less beastly. The highest form of work was the most cognitive and the least manual.”
In this view, work gets in the way of philosophy. Which was the domain of the gods.
“Contemplation helped you realize that the material world is temporary and even illusory, and that being over-involved or emotionally attached to it pulls you down into a kind of animal existence of fear, anger, and anxiety,” Tim writes.
This thinking about work carries on to the present day, where many see work as a necessary evil. There is “work,” and then there is “life.” We work to make money to support our families and live our lives. Nothing more.
The biblical view of work is quite different. “The Bible sees all work as distinguishing human beings from animals and elevating them to a place of dignity,” Tim notes. “Work has dignity because it is something that God does and because we do it in God’s place, as his representatives. . . because it reflects the image of God the Creator in us.”
In Genesis, God says, “Let us make mankind in our image, in our likeness, so that they may rule over the fish in the sea and the birds in the sky, over the livestock and all the wild animals, and over all the creatures that move along the ground.”
While animals and plants are called to “teem” and “reproduce,” as human beings, we are given a job description: to “subdue” and “have dominion” over the earth.
3: The Bible also tells us that all work has dignity, both what we do with our hands as well as our minds. “God’s own work in Genesis 1 and 2 is ‘manual’ labor,” Tim observes, “as he shapes us out of the dust of the earth, deliberately putting a spirit in a physical body, and as he plants a garden (Genesis 2:8).”
Tim tells us we are called “to stand in for God here in the world, exercising stewardship over the rest of creation in his place as his vice-regents. We share in doing the things that God has done in creation—bringing order out of chaos, creatively building a civilization out of the material of physical and human nature, caring for all that God has made. This is a major part of what we were created to be.”
Reflection: Do I see my daily work as a duty or a privilege? How can I view it more in the lens in which God created it?
Action: Journal about it.