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Our labor in the Lord is not in vain

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Theology of Work

Opening Question
What was your first job and how much money did you make?
My first job was cleaning toilets as a church janitor!
Tonight in our “adulting” series we are going to talk about jobs and work because one of the top things on our priority list in this stage of life we’re in is figuring out the kind of job or jobs that we are going to be doing for the rest of our lives. These are huge decisions that can cause a lot of excitement but also anxiety, apathy, and confusion. You’ll find yourself asking questions like these:
Am I qualified enough?
Will I make enough?
Can I work enough in order to make a difference?
What Seth has asked me to do tonight is basically to get the conversation going with the young adults about how having a biblical perspective on work can speak volumes into this season of life we are in.
General Overview
The task for Christians to gain a biblical perspective is to develop a theology of work. Simply put, what this means is that we learn how to think about work by learning first about how God thinks about work.
Biblical Overview
On page one of the Bible we are introduced to the main character of Scripture—God—and what is he doing?
He is working.

Genesis opens with the image of a working, collaborative Creator, whose primal work constitutes an investment of His creativity, intelligence, words, breath, and “hands”

If you flip to the next page we learn that God’s greatest work is the creation of man and woman and what we find is that humans are created in God’s Image which is the Bible’s way of saying that they are created to represent the creator—so naturally—we work too.
The NET Bible Chapter 2

:15 The LORD God took the man and placed him in the orchard in Eden to care for it and to maintain it.

Mankind’s first job was a gardener and we didn’t make any money but who cares it was the garden of freaking Eden! However, problems arise, though, when people disobey God they broke the image of God made in them and there are consequences
The NET Bible Chapter 3

cursed is the ground thanks to you;

in painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.

3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you,

but you will eat the grain of the field.

3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat food

until you return to the ground,

for out of it you were taken;

for you are dust, and to dust you will return.”

The story of Scripture carries on this theme about how work is now screwed up but one day the curse will be lifted.
The NET Bible Chapter 8

8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not willingly but because of God who subjected it—in hope 8:21 that the creation itself will also be set free from the bondage of decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.

8:20 For the creation was subjected to futility—not
Until then, though, the Bible talks about this irony we live in where people are trying to work the earth in order to survive but everyone ultimately returns to the earth when we die most of the time with little to show for it.
The NET Bible Chapter 2

2:20 So I began to despair about all the fruit of my labor

for which I worked so hard on earth.

2:21 For a man may do his work with wisdom, knowledge, and skill;

however, he must hand over the fruit of his labor as an inheritance

to someone else who did not work for it.

This also is futile, and an awful injustice!

Now things aren’t all bad, the Biblical authors mention how work should yield enjoyment because God is still generous.
The NET Bible Chapter 3

3:13 and also that everyone should eat and drink, and find enjoyment in all his toil,

for these things are a gift from God.

The NET Bible Chapter 2

2:24 There is nothing better for people than to eat and drink,

and to find enjoyment in their work.

I also perceived that this ability to find enjoyment comes from God.

2:25 For no one can eat and drink

or experience joy apart from him.

2:26 For to the one who pleases him, God gives wisdom, knowledge, and joy

Work is something that God rewards
The NET Bible Chapter 10

10:4 The one who is lazy becomes poor,

but the one who works diligently becomes wealthy.

10:5 The one who gathers crops in the summer is a wise son,

but the one who sleeps during the harvest

is a son who brings shame to himself.

Apart from this, though, there is a kind of work that provides for us beyond temporary pleasure but eternal purpose.
Apart from all of this, though, there is a specific kind of work that provides for us beyond temporary pleasure but eternal purpose.
The NET Bible Chapter 12

12:13 Having heard everything, I have reached this conclusion:

Fear God and keep his commandments,

because this is the whole duty of man.

Now keeping this in mind, we skip ahead to Jesus who all of the Bible is leading to and he worked. Jesus was a tekton which meant he was some kind of builder or carpenter.
Jesus’s followers were all working people:fishermen, doctors, tax-collectors, tent-makers and so on.
Paul, who wrote most of the NT, and was an apostle of Jesus wrote this to followers of Jesus.
The NET Bible Chapter 4

aspire to lead a quiet life, to attend to your own business, and to work with your hands, as we commanded you. 4:12 In this way you will live a decent life before outsiders and not be in need.

and this...
The NET Bible Chapter 3

“If anyone is not willing to work, neither should he eat.”

Work has been and always should be something of high value to the people of God and it goes beyond just 9-5 job kind of situation. In the NT the authors describe the ministry of the Gospel as work.
This work is important enough to Jesus that he says it is what is sustaining him even if it doesn’t pay.
The NET Bible Chapter 4

4:34 Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of the one who sent me and to complete his work

Jesus is performing the kind of work that the author of Ecclesiastes talked about by submitting to God—Jesus did heal people, sure, but his main work was to submitting God by offering himself as a sacrifice in order to redeem mankind and restoring the image of God that was broken in us. That is the work that Jesus says he finishes with his dying breath.
Here’s where we get the “so what” of all of this. Human beings were created to work and we screwed that work up and we still face the consequences but now Christians are being re-created to work in a new type of way. Christians are workers, in fact that is one of the main titles used for us in the NT (ergates). What kind of workers? Christians are called by Jesus to follow him and make more followers of him.
The NET Bible Chapter 28

28:19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and the Son and the Holy Spirit,

Bottom Line
Our 9-5 situation should not decide what we do with our lives, Jesus should decide what we do with our lives including what happens between 9-5 Monday-Friday. The problem with our generation is that we’ve made our work into an end in and of itself while all along Jesus is telling us that our work is a means to an end and that end is not making money or getting successful or just moving out of mom and dads (those are good things), our work is meant to Grow Kingdom People.
The NET Bible Chapter 15

15:58 So then, dear brothers and sisters, be firm. Do not be moved! Always be outstanding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.

Biblical Studies Press, The NET Bible First Edition; Bible. English. NET Bible.; The NET Bible (Biblical
Rest is good but work is better—so get a job!
Studies Press, 2005), . Our 9-5 situation does not decide what we do with our lives, Jesus decides what we do with our lives including what happens between 9-5 Monday-Friday.
Work with the King
The Kingdom comes first.
The Kingdom comes first—you are a disciple disguised as a 9-5 Mon-Fri ____________
What was your first job and how much money did you make?
2. Read . How does this commandment challenge your perspective on work.
3. When can Sabbath (rest, relaxation, peacefulness, etc.) devolve into laziness in your routine?
4. What do you believe your generation needs to learn about work?
5. CHALLENGE: In whatever job you do throughout the week, find an opportunity to go above and beyond (show up early, stay late, etc.) for the express purpose of representing Jesus to your co-workers.
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