Eld Chew Chong Kiat
Tomorrow is Monday… How does that make you feel? Does the thought of your weekend ending and the start of another long week of labour make you feel blue?
As children of God, how should we view work?
God made Adam to work (Genesis 2:5,7 - 8,15). Work was enjoyable, not toilsome. There were no thorns and thistles, no pain and frustration which we experience in our work today. All the negative aspects of work came only after the fall. “And unto Adam he said, Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.” (Genesis 3:17-19) God graciously provides for man’s needs through hard labour, so that he has lesser time to sin against God.
Revelation 14:13 “...Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: …that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.” When a saint dies in Christ, his work on earth is done. Does he still have work to do? What does it mean to “rest from their labours”? The word ‘labours’ means “a beating of the breast in grief”, which stresses the negative aspect of work - the intense toiling, the fatigue coupled with trouble and pain which are added due to the curse after the fall. The good news is that in heaven, all these negative aspects of work shall be history! The labour is gone but the work remains albeit with a difference - work will be as enjoyable as before the fall, because God will remove the curse. Revelation 22:3 “And there shall be no more curse: but the throne of God and of the Lamb shall be in it; and his servants shall serve him.” Man shall be restored to perfect fellowship with God and the redeemed shall serve God. Sin and the effects of sin will no longer molest the work that he does in the New heaven and New earth. There will not be any disappointment and frustration that we experience now. Work will be restful.
Scripture tells us that when we meet our God, we will be judged for our works. Those who have been faithful will be rewarded. (Romans 14:10-12, 2Corinthians 5:10, Revelation 22:12). Guess what the reward will be?
In Matthew 25:21 Jesus described the master’s response to the faithful servants, “His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.”
It turns out that the reward for hardworking faithful stewards is more work!
Are you shocked? Disappointed?
If you have a proper understanding of and relationship with work, you will receive this news with a worshipful heart. We serve God on earth in the work that we do, not just in church, but also at home and at our workplace or in school. Particularly at our workplace and in school, God’s will is that through our labours, others in this world of darkness may see Christ and the blessed hope that we have. Those who are not in Christ or who do not abide in Christ are labouring in vain and in frustration like Solomon. “Then I looked on all the works that my hands had wrought, and on the labour that I had laboured to do: and, behold, all was vanity and vexation of spirit, and there was no profit under the sun.” (Ecclesiastes 2:11) The reason is that he served self, not Christ.
Colossian 3:23-24 “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ.” As children of God, we ought to do our work cheerfully unto Christ, acknowledging that it is He who had appointed us at the place of work, at home and in church or school. We belong to Him and therefore we serve Him. When we ask for wisdom and strength, He will supply abundantly. When we are tried and tested in our work He is ever faithful, and as we trust in Him He is glorified and magnified in our lives. God is our Paymaster and He will not forget the work that we do in His name (Hebrew 6:10). His reward is sure, fair, gracious and reserved for each of us. No one can break in to steal it, and it will not be corrupted (Matthew 6:19-20).
Although the thorns and thistles still remain when we work here on earth, and we still toil and sweat like everyone else, yet we can rejoice and experience His sufficient grace and presence in our lives as we learn to trust in Him and commit each day and each labour to Him. When we falter and sin against God, we may be restored to perfect fellowship by repentance and we can be assured of His blessings again just as he blessed Joseph and Daniel in all that they did, such that all those around knew that God was with them.
God wants us to enjoy the work that we do and to shine for Him each day. He wants to reward us with more work with Him and for Him because we so enjoy the work that we have today. And when Monday comes, although the challenges of work and the toil of work may sometimes overwhelm us, the thought of the presence of God and the blessings of God and the privilege to serve God in this world will give us the bounce in our steps again to return to work. Besides, we labour in hope that one day we will rest from the labour of work.
Yes, we thank God for weekends and especially the Lord’s day, for it is like an emblem of the eternal rest that we will enjoy in heaven when the curse of our work will be gone and we can serve God with perfect bliss gratefully. Surely, we can look forward with expectation to more work in heaven as a reward because work will be joyful and rewarding.
It’s interesting how Isaiah 65:21-23 describes life and work in the New Jerusalem during the Millennium, saying that the inhabitants will build houses, farm and work and those work will not be in vain. Work in the New heaven and New earth will be infinitely better, with no sin, and no tears (Revelation 21:4) and work will be enjoyable, restful and fruitful.
In summary there are Four Phases of Man’s Relationship with Work:
Understanding God’s purpose for work from creation to eternity in these four phases will shape how we view and do our work today. May God grant each of us grace to delight in our work and to rejoice in the most laborious work that we undertake on this earth. Amen.