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God gave us work as a gift – to help us participate in his grand story.

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Unless the Lord builds the house,
those who build it labor in vain.
Unless the Lord watches over the city,
the watchman stays awake in vain.
It is in vain that you rise up early
and go late to rest,
eating the bread of anxious toil;
for he gives to his beloved sleep.

 

From the dawn of life, before sin imposed, God strategically placed man in a garden and gave him a task. God tasks man with work (Genesis 2:15). This work is not a result of the fall but an inherent part of being human – and a beautiful reflection of God’s creative work forming and caring for us. God designs us to work, to labor and to expend effort in this life – caring for the world in which we live. If we continue reading the Genesis narrative, we’ll notice how work later becomes frustrated and a source of trouble for all humanity.

You can sense this tension in the first line of Psalm 127. The line sounds more like a proverb than a lyric with it’s pithy punch. “Unless the Lord builds the house, the labor is in vain.” The Psalmist feels frustration when labor turns to futility and he declares the unique paradox of God’s involvement in the work we attempt. The verse has been passed down to remember the way God infuses our work with purpose and significance.

Unfortunately, instead of seeing work as an opportunity to join God’s workforce, we often treat work as the means to earn purpose and identity. We even rank others based on their occupation and assign value based on what a person can “do.” Then, we turn the measuring stick back on ourselves to find our worth built on what we can achieve. However, God never intended work to give us identity, but to be a vehicle by which we express who we are. God gave us work as a gift – to help us participate in his grand story. Take the next few minutes to remember the blessing of work and write out a list of abilities God’s given you.

 

For we are his workmanship,
created in Christ Jesus for good works,
which God prepared beforehand,
that we should walk in them.
– Ephesians 2:10

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By Yvonne Biel 

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