Human-divine collaboration characterizes all honorable work.

Let me say it before you think it: a clergyman is the last person in the world to expatiate on this topic. For everybody knows that no clergyman has ever done a day’s work in his life. Instead, according to the old quip, he is “six days invisible and one day incomprehensible.” A few years ago a rather drunk Welsh Communist boarded the train in which I was travelling. When he learned that I was a pastor, he told me it was high time I became productive, and ceased to be a parasite on the body politic.

What is our attitude to our work? Here is a popular view:

I don’t mind work

If I’ve nothing else to do;

I quite admit it’s true

That now and then I shirk

Particularly boring kinds of work—

Don’t you?

But, on the whole, I think it’s fair to say,

Provided I can do it my own way

And that I need not start on it today—

I quite like work!

What has been called “the orthodox view” of work (or so I have read in a secular book on the social psychology of industry), and has been the basis of industrial psychology and managerial practice (or so I am assured in the same book) is “the Old Testament belief that physical labor is a curse imposed on man as a punishment for his sins.” The author goes on to write that this view has recently been modified. But even so it is a serious distortion of Scripture. The fall certainly turned work into drudgery, because the ground was cursed with thorns and thistles, and cultivation became possible only by the sweat of the brow. But work is a consequence of creation, not the fall; the fall has aggravated its problems without destroying its joys.

So we badly need to recover the biblical doctrine of work. In the first two chapters of Genesis God reveals himself ...

John R. W. Stott (1921 – 2011) is known worldwide as a preacher, evangelist, author, and theologian. For 66 years he served All Souls Church, Langham Place, in London, England, where he pioneered effective urban evangelistic and pastoral ministry. During these years he authored more than 50 books, and served as one of the original Contributing Editors for Christianity Today. Stott had a global vision and built strong relationships with church leaders outside the West in the Majority World. A hallmark of Stott's ministry was his vision for expository biblical preaching that addresses the hearts and minds of contemporary men and women. In 1969 he founded a trust that eventually became Langham Partnership International (www.langham.org), a ministry that continues his vision of partnership with the Majority World Church. Stott was honored by Time magazine in 2005 as one of the "100 Most Influential People in the World."

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