Five things about the value and dignity of work

The value and dignity of work

When you listen to the things some people say you might think “work” is a four letter word.

Well, I know. It literally is a four letter word; but, you know what I mean.

In the conversations of many, work is misunderstood and maligned. So, as we celebrate Labor Day, I would like to share just a few thoughts about the value of work.

1) Work is part of God’s original design. Genesis 2:15 states that God put Adam “in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” As the pinnacle product of God’s creative work, Adam and Eve were given the highest and most honorable assignment possible: to work in His garden.

2) Work is a means of showing respect for others. Proverbs 18:9 reads, “One who is slack in his work is brother to one who destroys.” A lazy person who refuses to work is just as reprehensible as an individual who tramples his neighbor’s garden. Do you wish to show by your actions that others matter to you? Then, resist the temptation to be slack in your work, which is tantamount to destroying the good efforts of others.

3) Work is an exhibition of abiding faith in the bountiful blessings of God. God has promised, “As long as the earth endures, seedtime and harvest….will never cease.” (See: Genesis 8:22) The fact that we must work to enjoy God’s provision does not diminish the blessing. Neither does it nullify our faith. For, although God feeds the sparrows, He does not throw the food into their nests. So, go ahead and plant the seeds, water the crops, and expect a harvest, which is God’s reward to all who faithfully labor.

4) Work is the shortest distance between people in need and those with means. Leviticus 23:22 states, “When you reap the harvest of your land, do not reap to the very edges of your field or gather the gleanings of your harvest. Leave them for the poor and for the foreigner residing among you.” Even though few of us farm, or even farm as they did then, this principle can still be observed. The Holy Spirit speaks to this with clarity in 1 Timothy 6:17-19 where we read: “Command those who are rich in this present world not to be arrogant nor to put their hope in wealth, which is so uncertain, but to put their hope in God, who richly provides us with everything for our enjoyment. Command them to do good, to be rich in good deeds, and to be generous and willing to share. In this way they will lay up treasure for themselves as a firm foundation for the coming age, so that they may take hold of the life that is truly life.”

5) Work is a God-given means for breaking the poverty cycle which has far too many people ensnared. Indeed, it gives us a means for providing both hand-outs and hand-ups. This is made clear in Ephesians 4:28, “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.” Thieves should no longer steal. Let them work. When they work, they will be able to provide for themselves and share with others. When those in need are blessed with the help they need, the cycle is broken. Therefore, all who are able should work.

So, while the Labor Day holiday was originally designed to recognize the achievements of organized labor, it has become something more in our culture. It is a day set aside to recognize the value of work and the dignity of all who labor.

Hopefully, these five points show the great value and dignity in work. Today, we rest (most of us, anyway); tomorrow we work. With dignity and wholesome pride, we work. For work is good.

© Bill Williams, a fellow sojourner


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