The Sacredness of Work

Nov 5, 2020

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An auto mechanic with bruised, cracked hands — the product of years of hard, often thankless work — fiddles with that spaghetti-like labyrinth of wires, cylinders and other confusing stuff under the hood of your car that few of us can even begin to understand. He is a working man you’re mighty pleased to have around when you are stranded out in the middle of nowhere. Tell me his work isn’t sacred!

Or a doctor like the one I visited a couple of weeks ago. After a few well placed questions, a lab test and prescribed medication, bingo, I’m back! Thank God for that trained mind. If his work isn’t sacred, what on earth is?

Somehow we have acquired the unfounded notion that “full-time Christian workers” have a special calling above that of a drywaller, a tailor or a financial planner. The assumption seems to be that “work” is second rate necessary toil for those who have not been “called.” I don’t think so! A study of church history will reveal that this type of split level thinking did not enter the church until some time in the third century.

“The prioritizing of ‘ministry’ over ‘work’ is now a fatal disease in Western Christianity. The work of the ministry has triumphed over the ministry of work. Careers and jobs are listed in the minds of believers from top to bottom in a scale of holiness and eternal relevance: missionaries and pastors on the top and stock brokers on the bottom.” (Paul Stevens)

Think of it: God is a worker. After six days of labor, God saw all that he had made, and it was very good. (Gen. 1:31a)

It was in the Garden of Eden before Adam and Eve sinned that the Lord instructed them to work, “…Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground”…The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. (Gen. 1:28b; 2:15)(See Jn. 5:17; 9:4)

Years ago Dorothy Sayers sagely wrote, “(Work is to be seen) not as a necessary drudgery to be undergone for the purpose of making money, but as a way of life in which the nature of man should find its proper exercise and delight and so fulfill itself to the glory of God. It should, in fact, be thought of as a creative activity undertaken for the love of work itself; and man made in God’s image, should make things, as God makes them, for the sake of doing well a thing that is well worth doing.”

Paul’s letter to the Thessalonians is illustrative:”…You yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you.” (2 Thes. 3:7b,8) (See Isa. 65:21-23; Matt. 5:16; Eph. 2:10; 1 Thes. 1:3; 2 Thes. 3:6-15)

And almost five centuries ago, Martin Luther addressed the sacredness of work: “Just look at your tools…at your needle and thimble…your goods, your scales…everything our bodies do, the external and the carnal, is and is called spiritual behavior if God’s Word is added to it and it is done in faith.”

So the next time you are tempted to depreciate your work, regroup and celebrate your sacred calling!

Written by R. Dwight Hill.  Used with permission. All rights reserved. Content distributed by > used for non-profit teaching purposes only.