Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need.
Hard Work, Good Work: Part 4
In last week's reflections, we saw that Ephesians 4:28 urges us not just to work, but also to work hard. This does not mean, however, that we should work all the time. We need to learn how to work hard, rest regularly, and play joyfully.
Today, we begin to consider what Ephesians 4:28 teaches about why we should work. I suppose one might answer, "Because the Bible says so." But Scripture gives us more than commands. It also helps us to understand the "whys" of our life so that our actions might be from our own wise choices rather than mere obedience.
The first answer to the "Why work?" question is implied in the phrase "doing something useful with their own hands." God has given us hands, not for stealing, but for working. If you think of it, almost all work requires the use of hands. (For a moving exception, see Born Without Arms.) Even if your work is primarily a matter of thinking, your hands help you to get your thoughts out so that they might be useful in the world (by writing, keyboarding, texting, drawing, etc.).
God created us with hands, indeed, with bodies, so that we might work in this world. This is clear in the creation accounts of Genesis. In chapter 1, God created human beings so that we might do the work of filling and stewarding the world. In Genesis 2, the man, and then the woman, are put in God's garden in order to do the work of taking care of it and helping it to be fruitful.
Thus, one reason why we work is that we have been created for this very purpose. We have hands and arms and brains and eyes and mouths and legs and ears and the rest so that we might work in this world. As we work, we fulfill a core purpose of God for our lives, thus serving and glorifying him.
QUESTIONS FOR FURTHER REFLECTION: Why do you work? Really? What gets you going in the morning? What motivates you to keep working throughout the day? Have you ever thought that God has given you a body so that you might work? How might this perspective make a difference in your daily life?
PRAYER: Gracious God, today I thank you for the gift of my hands, even more for the gift of my whole body. "I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well" (Psalm 139:14).
One main reason I have a body is so that I might do the work you have called me to do. May I steward well this body, using it for your purposes and glory. Indeed, may I devote my physical frame and energy to the work you have given me. Today, as I work, may I be conscious of offering my work to you as an embodied offering. Amen.
Read the other parts in the series over at The High Calling here: