Reformed Reflections

Why Work?

Why work? Is the answer to this question not simple? Of course, work is necessary only in order to make a living. Is it really? Is man only working for wages? 

It seems to be that way when you look at our society, and when you read the statements made by labor and management. Ask yourself these questions: 'Do I go to work for just the wages and the related fringe benefits? Do I consider my work as a commodity to be sold to the highest bidder with the most pleasant work environment? Do I consider work a necessity for survival?' 

These questions are vital for they strike at the heart of the labor problem. To be working merely for wages is one of the most glaring sins of society today. This makes man nothing but an animal. He grinds out his daily bread, and that is the ultimate goal of life! 

God given talents and ambitions are sacrificed in the pursuit of mere money. The value of work is measured in dollars and cents. Today, people, when considering their life’s vocation, ask first "How much salary do I get?" and only later, "What type of work is it?” This type of thinking has not only taken root in the humanistic circles, but in Christian circles as well.  

Work for wages for bread? Is that the sum total of your life, your all consuming passion, and the purpose of your daily labor? 

If that is your view of work, you are poor indeed! You have lowered yourself to a subhuman existence. The crassly materialistic motivation in the world of labor is anti-Christian. 

Jesus said "You must work, not for this perishable food, but for the food that lasts, the food of eternal life." (John 6:37, N.E.B.) Many Christians are sinning against this text. Too many have isolated their Christian faith from the everyday affairs of life. The kingship of Christ is left at home and is not recognized at work, there the world takes over. And this makes Christianity irrelevant. 

Why work? Work is not a cumbersome necessity to be curtailed to as little as possible. Work was ordained by God. Adam and Eve were told "Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth." (Gen. 1:28). Someone remarked about this. 

"Even without the presence of sin in the world men would have had to work in order to develop creation and to bring it to greater fruitfulness. God had finished the creation, but He left it to man to explore and develop the many potentialities hidden in His handiwork. 

"It is significant that work did not originate with man’s sin. Man was called to work before the consequences of sin marred God's creation. This indicates that work is not a necessary evil, but it belongs to man's being created in the image of God. Even God Himself works. Notice Jesus words: My Father worketh even until now, and I work." (P. 7. Some Thoughts on Christian Social Action.) 

The Biblical view of work gives it new perspectives and meaning. Work gives fulfillment for it is God who calls each man to a particular task in life. Each man is responsible at work to God for the way he uses his time and talents. Work is not a curse placed upon man, though sin has made it often difficult and strenuous, but it is a God given task to be done to the glory of the Creator. 

A Christian who sees his daily work this way will show at work that he is a disciple of Jesus Christ by his attitude to his responsibilities. He will show real interest for he knows that work is a part of God's creation and not something evil to be disliked. 

Johan D. Tangelder