I come from a family of hard workers. Something just compels us to work like crazy, biting off more than we can chew and choking it down with coffee, lack of sleep and baggy eyes. My face lotion is the “anti-fatigue” kind, no joke. I’m so grateful for this family culture that taught me the value of working hard, but I often wondered… what is it that drives us to work the way we do? Moreover, as Christ-followers, what should work look like?
2 Timothy 2:15 says this, “Do your best to present yourself to God as one approved, a worker who does not need to be ashamed and who correctly handles the word of truth.” (NIV)
I don’t know about you, but presenting myself to God as an approved and unashamed worker sounds pretty intense. There are some toxic work environments out there, and it can be really hard not to take part in the gossip and frustration. We often look at work as being separate from the rest of our life, including our relationship with Jesus. But in the act of presenting ourselves to the Lord, we are also representing Him to others. As we work, we are reflecting God to the people around us. But this doesn’t just mean being on our best behavior at the office.
Our first reference of work in the Bible is the work of God himself, in fact He placed man in the garden to work it. Even though it was beautiful already, God specifically chose humans to make it even more fruitful so they could share His goodness with their children and their children’s children. So when we work, we are partnering with God to share His goodness and make this world better. Work is a divine reflection of God!
But let’s be honest, very rarely do I walk around my office thinking “Yeah, this is a divine reflection of God.” That beautiful garden didn’t make it past chapter 2 of the Bible; so work, like everything else, is subject to the pains of a fallen world. This is why in 2 Timothy, Paul talks about being one “who correctly handles the word of truth” or the gospel — because we always need a purpose.
As we work, we are reflecting God to the people around us.
So, what is it about the gospel, when accurately lived out, that makes our work worthwhile?
1 Peter 1:3 says this, “Praise be to the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ! In his great mercy he has given us new birth into a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead, and into an inheritance that can never perish, spoil or fade.”
What makes work worthwhile? HOPE. We have been given this living hope through the resurrection of Jesus, and the inheritance that is our own bodily resurrection and a new creation. So when we work, we have hope and confidence that our work is not just there for survival, but it is a noble and divine effort that will not be simply discarded by God, but made anew in the richness of His Glory. For he says, “I am making all things new”-Revelation 21:5
So whatever you do — whether you’re an educator, hair-dresser, engineer, stay-at-home mom, barista, pastor, or designer —“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord” -Colossians 3:23
Because whether you’re in your dream job or not, God is ready to do a work in you. He is, through our Lord Jesus, making all things new!
Hannah Arensen is a landscape designer with a focus on ecological resilience and social equity in public space. A blogger and worship team member, she is passionate about helping people grow in their relationship with Jesus. When she’s not in the studio, you can find her curled up with a good book and a cup of coffee.
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