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Six days shall you labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord your God. Exodus 20:9-10a

 

Whatever your task, work heartily as serving the Lord and not men. . . Colossians 3:23

 

When work is divested of its biblical meaning, it will be either under- or over-estimated. Today it is both—a means to an end, and a controlling power. – H. Echternak

One theologian, discussing the implications of the Sabbath commandment to “rest” concluded that from the biblical point of view, “man is by his very nature a worker.” Human work is surely not simply a product of the fall,–the curse of sweat—but of our very created nature. It may even in certain respects be an aspect of the image of God. After all, God is a worker—meticulous, precise, comprehensive, focused—an artisan. He steps back from his work frequently, assesses it, and declares: “It is good.” (Gen. 1:10, 12, 18, 21, 25). We see evidence of His craftsmanship in the precision of the universe, the complexity of life—the fine-tuning of the universe as astronomers are increasingly recognizing.

We also find in Genesis that “work” was part of the duty of Adam. Genesis 2:15 notes Adam was to “tend and keep” the garden. Work is, therefore, not merely a necessity, but a calling and a blessing. Martin Luther called work the “larva of God”—inviting worship and discouraging undue asceticism. Dorothy Sayers put it even stronger: “Work is not primarily a thing one does to live, but the thing one lives to do.”

The quest for discovery, the impulse to invention, the precision of the artisan—are not these all expressions of an inherent desire to achieve, create, express and accomplish some task. In its proper place, such drives are gifts of God.

Work, whether it be manual or mental, physical or intellectual, is one of the greatest gifts of God to us. Indeed I suspect one of the human tragedies of the modern world is the diminished levels of personal achievement in much of modern work. The assembly line, routine tasks in modern industry, may rob work of some of its spiritual and psychological value. It has become impersonal—divorced from our personhood. At another extreme, the ease of life in the wealthy nations of the world has produced a level of indolence and slackness which robs the citizens of the disciplines of creative work.

As lawyers, most of us have a reputation for work—indeed, maybe “workaholics.” But granting the potential for excess, what a privilege it is to have work which is challenging, stimulating our mental and moral faculties. Work that invites creativity. Work that often makes a real difference in people’s lives and our communities. Work that models the stewardship of skills and resources. Work that reflects the image of God in us.

It ought to be easy for us of all people, to, as the Scriptures command, “work heartily.” But we must remember the command is not just to work—but to work “as serving the Lord.” Work, rightly motivated and rightly done, is offered not to our egos, or chiefly to our professional colleagues, or even to our clients. It is an aspect of our gift to God. It is worship, it is offering, it is thanksgiving.
Lynn R. Buzzard

– This article comes from AI’s “No Higher Calling,” a devotional for lawyers.

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