By Bro. Eddie C. Villanueva
Friends Magazine Hong Kong
March 2011 edition
How many times have we read Genesis 1 and simply dismissed it as an inevitable introduction to the universe’s elaborate plan of grand creation? Before we continue to mindlessly thumb through the Bible’s pages, it is important that we pause and ponder on God’s revelations so that we may not miss the lessons He has for us.
Albeit oblique and implied, one of the powerful lessons Genesis 1:1 has for us is the value God places on work: “In the beginning, God created …”
It is astounding how God introduced Himself to mankind foremost as Creator before He presented Himself to us another way. Clearly, the dynamic picture that these words want us to see is the God at work.
Moreover, God, shortly after creating the world and making man out of the dust, “the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to tend and keep it” (Genesis 2:15). Nowhere was in God’s original design of Eden did He intend for Paradise to become a place of passive inaction and constant pleasure that’s bereft of responsibilities.
If God delights in good work and honest labor, how should we go about our daily business?
First, we must do our best at whatever work we do. Ecclesiastes 9:10 counsels us, “Whatever work you do, do your best, because you are going to the grave, where there is no working, no planning, no knowledge, and no wisdom.” The Message Bible, in Ecclesiastes 11:6 illuminates, “Go to work in the morning and stick to it until evening without watching the clock. You never know from moment to moment how your work will turn out in the end.”
Ultimately, Colossians 3:12-15 tell us the real reason for giving our best in all that we do: “Servants, do what you're told by your earthly masters. And don't just do the minimum that will get you by. Do your best. Work from the heart for your real Master, for God, confident that you'll get paid in full when you come into your inheritance. Keep in mind always that the ultimate Master you're serving is Christ. The sullen servant who does shoddy work will be held responsible. Being a follower of Jesus doesn't cover up bad work.”
We serve the God who honors honest work. We must remember that in doing our work diligently, we ultimately honor Him in the process.
Second, we must wisely balance our life. While God takes delight in honest and good work, He is primarily mindful of the worker; He is not a slave-master who drives workers to their early death.
We must keep our priorities right and straight: we work to live, not live to work. When we begin substituting office for home, work for relationships, and promotion for health, we are caught in the proverbial “rat race” where no one ever finishes victoriously.
Amidst our busyness at work, we must intentionally schedule times of rest. Even God rested a full day after six days of creating the world. And the apostles, after completing their tasks and reporting to Jesus on the results, would hear the tender words of Jesus prompting them to “Come aside by yourselves to a deserted place and rest a while” (Mark 6:31).
We can be productive even in our scheduled times of rest. We can take on a new hobby, begin reading a new book, visit old friends, dine out with the family, or simply finish those pencil sketches that we have been putting off for a while.
Third, we must value our worth. There is a silent tragedy that is going on in the work place today, and that is the tragedy of insignificance. It is sad how we sometimes equate our personal worth according to our kind of work, because this is wrong. An engineer cannot look at a grand building and claim all the credit for its construction by saying he built it. In the same manner, an architect cannot look at it and claim all the credit for its grandeur by saying he designed it. Without the laborers and builders whose bare hands actually toiled to erect it, building and design plans are only good on paper.
The world is moved not only by the mighty shoves of the heroes, but also by the aggregate of the tiny pushes of each honest worker, said Helen Keller. This is the same mindset that we must have as we go on with our daily activities – at work, in school, at home, or church – fully understanding who we are as individuals and workers.
At the end of each work day, when we know we have done and given our best in everything that we had to do, no reward comes close to a night of quiet and peaceful rest – and a guarantee that we will have another opportunity to do good, even better, the moment we wake up to a brand new day.