April 10, 2019 • Life for Leaders
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.
As we have seen, Ephesians 4:28 urges us not just to work, but also to work hard. This does not mean, however, that we should work all the time. We need to learn how to work hard, rest regularly, and play joyfully.
Today, we begin to consider what Ephesians 4:28 teaches about why we should work. One might answer, “Because the Bible says so.” But Scripture gives us more than mere commands. It also helps us understand the “whys” of our life so that our actions might stem from our own wise choices rather than strict obedience. Obeying God is always a good thing to do; but it’s even better to choose to obey because we understand God’s will and want to please him.
The first answer to the “Why work?” question is implied in the phrase, “doing something useful with their own hands.” God has given us hands not for stealing but for working. If you think of it, almost all work requires the use of hands. (For a moving exception, see this short video.) Even if your work is primarily a matter of thinking, your hands help you to get your thoughts out so that they might be useful in the world (by writing, keyboarding, texting, drawing, etc.).
God created us with hands—indeed, with bodies—so that we might work in this world. This is clear from the creation accounts of Genesis. In chapter 1, God created human beings so that we might do the work of stewarding the world, helping it to flourish. In Genesis 2 the man and then the woman are put in God’s garden in order to do the work of taking care of it and helping it to be fruitful.
Thus one reason why we work is that we have been created for this very purpose. We have hands and arms and brains and eyes and mouths and legs and ears and the rest so that we might work in this world. As we use our body to do good work, we fulfill a core purpose of God for our lives, thus serving and glorifying him. We love the Lord our God with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength (Mark 12:30).
Something to Think About:
Why do you work? Really?
What gets you going in the morning?
What motivates you to keep working throughout the day?
Have you ever thought that God has given you a body so that you might work?
How might this perspective make a difference in your daily life?
Something to Do:
Pay attention to how you use your body as you work today (or tomorrow, if you’re reading this devotion in the evening). As you do this, thank God for the physical capabilities he’s given you. Offer your body to God as “a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God – this is your true and proper worship” (Romans 12:1).
Gracious God, thank you for the gift of my hands, even more for the gift of my whole body. “I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well” (Psalm 139:14).
One main reason I have a body is so that I might do the work you have called me to do. May I steward well this body, using it for your purposes and glory. Indeed, may I devote my physical frame and energy to the work you have given me. Today as I work may I be conscious of offering my work to you as an embodied offering. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary:
Fruitfulness/Growth (Genesis 1:28; 2:15, 19-20)
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.