Does it matter whether one is a plumber or a president?

In present-day America, Work in itself is seen to have no value except as it enhances personal satisfaction and relational values. But the biblical ethic values work as good. God, in his perfection, worked six days out of seven to create the Earth. At the end of his workweek, God looked upon his finished task and pronounced it “good.” The value of the product is not separated from his motive for work or the process of his working. God further advanced the value of work as good when he gave Adam the task of dressing the garden, taming the wilderness, and multiplying his kind. “It is good” is a statement of value that applies to the purpose, process, and product of Christians at work. Not only is it a standard by which we judge the value of our work, but it is also a witness of Christian truth against the secularized, self-development ethic that reduces work to a necessary evil or to a secondary, if not incidental, good.

Another axiom of the biblical ethic is that work is hard. After the Creation came the Fall. Work became one of the innocent victims of Adam’s sin. No longer would work be an unmixed joy for man. Instead, God says, “Cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life …” (Gen. 3:17).

Advocates of the self-development ethic demand a work environment that is guaranteed to be comfortable and cozy. The truth is that all work has its moments of being hard, routine, restrictive, and lonely. Instant gratification is a demand of the self-development ethic that work itself can seldom fulfill. Christians can entertain no illusions about work. Until all creation is redeemed, we must learn to work diligently, patiently, and faithfully ...

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