Seeking Purpose In Work

The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
–Genesis 2:15

Solomon said you cannot find joy in living, and you cannot find it in learning. So beginning in Ecclesiastes 2:18 he made one last stop on his journey to find meaning in life, and that was labor–his work. He thought, “Surely I can find my purpose for existing in the work I have been given to do under the sun.”

A lot of Christians today have an extreme idea about work. Some absolutely hate their jobs. Look at what Solomon said in verse 18: “I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me.” That sounds like some Christians today who think their work is a curse from God. They think, “If only Adam and Eve had not messed up in the garden, then I would not have to work every day.”

What these believers do not realize is that God commanded Adam and Eve to work before the first sin ever took place. Work was always part of God’s plan for us. One reason God called us to work is to provide for ourselves and our families. Paul said, “If anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8). Deuteronomy 8:18 says the ability to work to earn money is a gift from God. So before you get up tomorrow morning and curse your job, thank God for that job, and see it as God’s provision to help you provide for yourself and your family.

Another reason God created us to work is so we can do His work here on earth. Sometimes we get this idea that pastors and missionaries are the only ones who are really doing God’s work, and everybody else is involved in a life of futility. No. God accomplishes His purpose on this earth through the assignment He has given you to do. God did not call Adam to be a pastor or a missionary. He said, “I want you to cultivate this garden and to keep it.” And the same thing happens today–God does His work on earth through you. For example, God takes care of His children and brings healing to their bodies through doctors and nurses. Your work is an extension of God’s work. Martin Luther said, “He will be working all things through you; He will milk the cow through you.”

It is not where you get your paycheck that determines whether your work is a gift from God. As A. W. Tozer said, “It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular; it is why he does it.”


Today’s devotion is excerpted from “The Three Ls Of An Empty Life” by Dr. Robert Jeffress, 2009.

Martin Luther, “Luther’s Works,” vol. 6, “Lectures on Genesis Chapters 31-37,” ed. Jaroslav Pelikan, trans. Paul D. Paul (St. Louis: Concordia, 1970) 10; A. W. Tozer, “The Pursuit of God” (Ventura, CA: Regal, 2013), 115.

Scripture quotations taken from the (NASB®) New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1971, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation. Used by permission. All rights reserved.


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