August 17, 1993
A fellow named Robert Orben once quipped, “Work is the recreation of the retired.”
Many retired people agree. Work is not always something you get paid for. They find themselves busier, even working harder, than when they were employed.
Neither is work always something we call “work.” Who hasn’t come home from a vacation to get some rest because they worked so hard enjoying themselves?
Most of us relish loafing but productive and even challenging work is usually more satisfying. We’d rather keep busy than be bored or feel useless. It is part of the way we are made.
In spite of that, it is not uncommon to complain about work. It can be either stressful, demanding, tedious, or difficult. But because work originated with God in paradise, it was not always a negative experience. Work actually became unpleasant because of sin. Prior to that, the first family enjoyed their tasks, made easy in a perfect environment. After they sinned, God banished them from the Garden of Eden “to work” and it would be hard work. He told Adam’s son, “When you work the ground, it will no longer yield its crops for you.”
Yet God, not sin, is responsible for hard work. He has the same opinion of bitter, difficult labor as we do — He calls it “bondage” (see Exodus 1:14).
In the beginning, Adam and Eve could take care of a large paradise. Yet after their sin occurred, one job can become too much. For instance, Moses overworked himself trying to lead the Israelites through the desert. God finally told him: “The work is too heavy for you; you cannot handle it alone.” Most of us would rather share our workload and certainly need to rest occasionally.
God had that in mind when He instituted the Sabbath: “Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates.”
Workaholics find it difficult to rest, yet God considered a day of rest so important that anyone who put work above it should be “cut off from his people” (Exodus 31:14). Work without rest is too demanding.
Christian “work” can be demanding too. Paul said “We work hard with our own hands” and should “make it our ambition to lead a quiet life, mind our own business and work with our hands... so we will not be dependent on anybody.”
We must work hard, but not entirely for our own selves. Paul challenges us to “do something useful... that we may have something to share with those in need.”
All this implies that whether we work for a pay cheque or not, we can work as a labor of love for God. Even if we find ourselves engaged in the “recreation of the retired,” we can still consider the Lord our boss. The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, knowing you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ we are serving.”
Work done for Him, whether while fully employed and paid, or as a volunteer, or while retired, is the secret of job satisfaction.