WHY DO WE WORK?

River Recovery Church San Leandro, CA

It has been calculated that the average person spends approximately one hundred and fifty thousand hours of their lives at work. One hundred and fifty thousand hours! That’s about forty percent of the average lifetime. Now what’s also interesting is recent studies show that 70% of people say they don’t like their jobs. They say, “If I could move to a different job, I would, because I’m not satisfied or fulfilled.” Wow! 70% of people don’t like what they spend 40% of their lifetimes doing! That’s amazing, and it’s also disturbing.

Now since work is such a big slice of our lives, let me ask a basic question. What is the purpose of work in the first place? This is not a new question. 3000 years ago Solomon asked the same question in Ecclesiastes 3:9 where he said,

“What do people really get for all their hard work?” Ecclesiastes 3:9

Way back then Solomon was searching for the meaning of life, and in his quest he looked at everything. One of the areas he examined was work, and he basically he wanted to know, “What’s the purpose of work?” One answer that is commonly offered to this question is work is actually punishment from God. People who say that cite the Bible – specifically Genesis 3:19. This passage talks about God removing Adam and Eve from the Garden of Eden after they sinned. In the process He said,

“Now you’re going to have to work by the sweat of your brow.” Genesis 3:19

Many people believe that was punishment. But Adam and Eve worked in the Garden of Eden BEFORE they sinned, so work was always a part of God’s plan and not punishment. Now having said that – work did in fact become harder and more difficult after the Adam and Eve sinned.   In Genesis 3:17-18 God said to Adam,

“Since you listened to your wife and ate from the tree whose fruit I commanded you not to eat                             (that was their sin), the ground is cursed because of you. All your life you will struggle to                                     scratch a living from it. It will grow thorns and thistles for you, though you will eat of its grains.”                   Genesis 3:17-18

That means work was going to be more difficult. Alright, let’s go back to our earlier question, “What’s the purpose of work?” The Bible gives us some good reasons. Let’s take a look at the first one.

The first purpose of work is to meet my needs.

That’s the most obvious reason. Suffice to say – we need to work to survive. Proverbs 12:11 says,

“A hard worker has plenty of food, but a person who chases fantasies has no sense.”                                            Proverbs 12:11

This is called a contrasting proverb. A “hard worker” is contrasted with a “fantasy chaser”. A “fantasy chaser” is someone who pursues frivolous schemes and doesn’t work. The proverb says that makes no sense. The Bible also says we must work to provide for our families. 1 Timothy 5:8 says,

“But those who won’t care for their relatives, especially those in their own household, have                                  denied the true faith. Such people are worse than unbelievers.” 1 Timothy 5:8

Those are very strong words! God is talking about moral values. He says providing for our families is morally right, whereas not providing for our families is the opposite. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says,

“Whoever doesn’t want to work shouldn’t be allowed to eat.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10

That’s pretty clear. How can anyone misinterpret that? The Pilgrims certainly understood it back in the early days of our country. They had a rule: “Whoever is unwilling to work doesn’t share in the meal.” All their meals were all common meals, so if you didn’t work, they wouldn’t let you sit down at the table. So the first purpose of work is necessity. I must work to support myself and my family. Next week we will look at a second reason. In the meantime let me ask you couple of questions.

1. Do like your job?

2. If you don’t, what are you planning to do about it?

If you are not sure, we will be talking about some strategies in our future blogs.  Questions?  Contact:  bob@riverrecoverychurch.com