How do you use your time? A good question since we all have a limited amount of time! Work takes the most significant portion of our time, at least eight hours for most of us. We get up, to go to work, to earn the money, to buy the food, to have the energy to go to work. “I owe, I owe, so off to work I go.”
For most of us, work is a drain on our emotional resources rather than a pleasure. So why do we have to go to work?
All work is God’s work
As we had discussed before, God designed us for work and Jesus, by His death, redeemed work for us to find delight again in what we are called to do. (See All God is God’s Work) But, here is another thought:
Hard work has its own reward
A while back, someone was encouraging my son in his studies, he was finding it hard to keep working, and this person quoted a popular saying: “Remember to work hard, for hard work in and of itself, has its own reward.” I remember thinking that it was an interesting saying, but as I meditated on it, I came to two insights:
- When we are working towards a goal, hard work is, at times, the only way we can achieve our goals. Ask any student or businessman the secret of their success, and most will tell you simply: hard work. The end result of hard work is the achievement of our goals.
“From the fruit of their lips people are filled with good things, and the work of their hands brings them reward.” (Prov 12:14)
2. There is another reward to hard work, the simple satisfaction of completing a job or work section. That, too, is a reward for hard work. It is a simple joy to finish, ticking it off, being able to say, “It is done.” However, we do not often dwell on that satisfaction when we are working or count it as a joy. I think Jesus experienced this joy of work completed when He declared His work done. He also had the simple joy of a job finished.
“I have brought you glory on earth by finishing the work you gave me to do.” (John 17:4)
“For the joy that was set before him, he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God.” (Heb 12:2)
These thoughts make me think of Col 3:23-24
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
You may be at a crossroads in your life like I am, where the path forward is not clear and the next marching orders from the Lord have not come. So I ask myself: “What to do?” But God has always left us with work to do, even if it is just the last thing He told us to do. I have realized in times like this that sometimes it is best to put your head down and do the work for the reward of hard work and pleasing the Lord. That in itself honors the Lord.
We always have work, but learning to do that work so that we work hard and cheerfully for the Lord is a challenge.
Is hard work always rewarded?
When we look at the story of Jacob working for Laban for 20 years, and the struggle and effort he put into those years before he returned to his own country, we can see that God honors hard work Himself. (Gen 31: 38-42) God, Himself will see to it that you receive the reward for the hard work that is due to you. In verse 42, Jacob clarifies that “If the God of my father, the God of Abraham and the Fear of Isaac, had not been with me, you would surely have sent me away empty-handed. But God has seen my hardship and the toil of my hand…”
So not only does hard work have a reward of its own, but God rewards and honors hard work that is done as if it was for Him that we are working.
- I think each of us needs to reconsider our attitude to hard work and to work in general.
- We also need to identify the rewards we are expecting from our hard work so that we actually enjoy the rewards when we achieve them.
- I also think we need to pat ourselves on the back more often for a job well done, relish each achieve
- Looking again at how God rewarded Jacob in his work, how is God perhaps rewarding you in the hard work that you have not recognized.
Thank you, Lord, for work and, more especially, for work for You, glorifying You in our lives as Jesus did. Help me work hard and cheerfully in what You have given my hands to do right now. Help me work at it with all my might, not to do a half job, but help me find the joy in a job well done.