When Work Is Worship

God blessed them and said, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it.” {Genesis 1:28}

If you found out today that a long-lost relative had passed away and left you ten million dollars, would you go to work tomorrow? Most people, including most Christians, would answer that question with an emphatic, “No way!” Why? Because a great many people see work as no more than a means to an end, and that “end” is the end of each week when they can say “Thank God it’s Friday!” As the 1980’s song goes, “Everybody’s working for the weekend” . . . including most Christians.

This was not always the case. The early Christians saw their work as an act of worship to God. No matter what the work was, they knew if they were doing it to the best of their God-given ability for the glory of God and the good of others, their work was worship. They understood that work work was a gift from God to Adam and Eve in the beginning. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15) before Adam’s terrible act of treachery in Eden. Work was not a result of man’s fall into sin in the Garden of Eden; work is in no way part of the curse. Work was the primary way that mankind, as image-bearers of God, were to reflect His image in this world.

Nancy Pearcey explained it this way in her book Total Truth:

In Genesis, God gives what we might call the first job description: “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it.” The first phrase, “Be fruitful and multiply” means to develop the social world: build families, churches, schools, cities, governments, laws. The second phrase, “Subdue the earth,” means to harness the natural world: plant crops, build bridges, design computers, compose music. This passage is sometimes called the Cultural Mandate because it tells us that our original purpose was to create cultures, build civilizations – nothing less.

Our God is a working God who created everything and continues His work by sustaining everything (Hebrews 1:3). As His image-bearers, we are called to live out the Cultural Mandate in every possible sphere of life. Every kind of job matters to God when we are doing it to expand the cause of His kingdom. Cleaning a house, cultivating a garden, practicing law, digging a ditch, driving an Uber, building a home, baking bread, waiting on tables, stocking store shelves, and on and on — all work is worship when it is performed for the glory of God.

The problem today is that the church has lost sight of this biblical truth and has instead bought in to the notion of the so-called “sacred/secular split.” Those who labor under this misconception believe that all the jobs I mentioned in the previous paragraph belong in the category of “secular,” while only those jobs inside the church or parachurch organizations are “sacred” and truly doing the work of God. This is simply not true!

Your work matters to God — no matter what that work is — when you perform it to the best of your ability for His glory. If we understand the Cultural Mandate rightly, we will see that the fundamental hallmark of authentic Christianity is to perform any and every job for the glory of God and the expansion of His kingdom. That is when our work is worship.

Jesus came into this world and spent much of His life as a carpenter; Paul was a tentmaker. Only when we understand our work — all work — as worship will we begin to influence and impact our culture for the glory of God and the expansion of His Kingdom as we bear His image to everyone who sees our witness in our work.

So let me ask you . . . How do you see your work? Work is a wonderful way to worship!

This is the Gospel. This is grace for your race. NEVER FORGET THAT . . . AMEN!


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