God is a hard worker. “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work,” Jesus said (John 5:17). This is the God Family way of thinking and living.
Are you a worker like God is? A lot of people hate work. God loves it.
God works like a farmer. Christ said, “[M]y Father is the husbandman”—one who plows and cultivates land (John 15:1). God plants in order to produce fruit that He can enjoy (see 1 Corinthians 9:7; 2 Timothy 2:6). The harvest He seeks is spiritual character in us. You are God’s husbandry—His cultivated field (1 Corinthians 3:9). If you abide in Christ, you will produce a lot of spiritual fruit (John 15:5). The more you do that, the more glory you bring to the farmer (verse 8).
God is a farmer growing God beings! His master plan is to reproduce Himself—and at the heart of this process is character development. That, as Mr. Armstrong wrote, “is the supreme feat of accomplishment possible for Almighty God the Creator—it is also the means to His ultimate supreme purpose! His final objective!” (The Incredible Human Potential). God is working to grow His perfect character in us until we produce fruit ready for harvest.
One powerful tool God uses to reproduce Himself in us is work. God, the worker, uses our work to build our character and to make us more like Himself. It is a means by which we can learn to think, labor and produce as He does!
The way you work is deeply important to God. How important is it to you?
The First Gardener
In the re-creation, God labored to create all the elements needed to support human life. Genesis 2:1-3 highlight three times that this required work.
God created man in His image and likeness (Genesis 1:26). He wants us to become like Him. So—He gave us work to do. Our first job was to exert “dominion over” all the animals (same verse). He wants man to rule all things, including, eventually, the universe. So He gave us Earth as a preliminary job site, filled with material to work with. He instructed Adam and Eve how to properly exercise dominion over it (e.g. verses 29-30).
Why were cattle, sheep, goats and other livestock placed under our dominion? Why did God create wheat, oats, barley, rice and cotton? Why potatoes, peas, carrots, cabbage, cauliflower and the vast variety of fruits, nuts and herbs, fish and birds? Was there not a better and more efficient way of sustaining human life? This support system is complicated and labor-intensive. Think of all the effort involved in making bread. Why didn’t God just make a bread tree? Why not have manna fall from the sky every morning? For that matter, why not design man to eat directly from the soil like an earthworm? Or pre-fuel us for a lifetime, like a nuclear reactor?
Instead, God created a complicated, labor-intensive environmental system that demands a huge amount of our time, thought and energy just to eat. And He did it this way for a purpose.
After creating Adam, “the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed. … And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:8, 15). God gave man something special and commissioned him to take care of it. Dress means to work, serve, till, make use of, increase, ennoble, make better! Keep means to guard and protect from injury or loss.
This tells you a lot about God! He is a husbandman, creating a crop of God beings by growing His righteous character in human beings. How? By planting a physical garden and having human beings care for it!
This is a major way to grow in righteous character—through work! Through learning how to be a worker—just like God.
In his 1859 book Self-Help, Samuel Smiles wrote, “Hugh Miller [a well-known man at the time] … stated the result of his experience to be, that work, even the hardest, is full of pleasure and materials for self-improvement. He held honest labor to be the best of teachers, and that the school of toil to be the noblest of schools—save only the Christian one—that is a school in which the ability of being useful is imparted, the spirit of independence learned, and the habit of persevering effort acquired. He was even of the opinion that the training of the mechanic—by the exercise which it gives to his observant faculties, from his daily dealing with things actual and practical—better fits him for picking his way through the journey of life than the training afforded by any other condition.”
Think of everything in your life that God gives you charge over: Your family and relationships, your job, your home, your possessions. Are you taking care of them? Your talents and abilities—are you using them, developing them, multiplying them? Are you serving others with these things? Every physical and spiritual gift and blessing God gives you represents your Father and your Husband reaching out to you and committing something into your care to learn how to be a worker. They want you to use that gift to become more like them: More responsible, more giving, more selfless and more loving.
God wants us to take the resources He provides and make them grow and multiply (e.g. Mark 4:8). He gives us spiritual knowledge in order to spread it. He gives plants, shrubs and trees to create beautiful landscaping and delicious food. He gave us this headquarters campus so we can transform it into a garden of Eden.
He wants us to work—and be satisfied in our work (Ecclesiastes 2:24). Work makes us happy. When we accomplish something, we feel good! When we waste time, we are unfulfilled and unhappy.
“God instilled a desire within each of us to accomplish, create, invent and build,” Bob Schultz wrote in his book Created for Work. “We tend to feel good when we make increase and not so good when we can’t or don’t. Whenever I feel a little discouraged, one thing is sure to perk me up—accomplishing something. I pick some small task like changing the water in the chicken pen. I take on another, like sharpening my chisels. Then another, like cleaning off my desk, or writing that long-overdue letter, harvesting some carrots from the garden, washing the truck, or picking up the shop. After a few of these projects, life seems to brighten.
“Don’t sit around, bored with life. Look around you. Meager as they might be, find your resources, add to them your labor, and make some increase today.”
Thorns and Thistles
God wanted Adam and Eve to make increase in the garden of Eden. They failed, so God removed them. As punishment, God said to Adam, “[C]ursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Genesis 3:17-19). Now that sin was in the picture and Satan was in charge, agriculture became far more difficult—just as the spiritual process it pictures, that of our qualifying for the Kingdom, became far more difficult! That process now involves much more sorrow, sweat, toil—effort!
However, that’s not all bad. We have a long way to go before becoming God, and God knows that the way we grow is through difficulty. Thorns, thistles, obstacles and troubles actually help us! By giving us work—having us do hard things, build, create beauty, fight the downward pulls of the flesh and combat decay—God forges stronger, deeper character in our lives.
Rather than fighting against that tendency to decay, people in the world around us constantly buy more and buy new. But God wants us to take care of what we have. Think about your stuff: Is it in good working order, or is it falling apart? The state of your property reflects the state of your character (e.g. Proverbs 24:30-34).
Work teaches us to embrace a challenge. Never shy away from a job because it requires you to get dirty. After all, God made us out of dirt (Genesis 3:19), and ordained that we work the soil for our food and our livelihood. Be determined to get the job done, whatever is required.
If you shrink from a challenge God gives you, you will fail to mature. If you are never willing to pick up a heavy weight, your muscles will weaken. If you avoid hard mental work, your mind will wither. God uses challenges to spur our growth and prepare us for even greater challenges.
God Is Your Work Partner
When God gave Moses instructions on building the tabernacle, He personally handpicked the most skilled craftsman, named Bezaleel, for the job. “And [God] hath filled him with the spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding, and in knowledge, and in all manner of workmanship; And to devise curious works, to work in gold, and in silver, and in brass, And in the cutting of stones, to set them, and in carving of wood, to make any manner of cunning work” (Exodus 35:31-33). God wanted the finest workmanship—and He gave spiritual help to this worker in order to achieve it!
God makes that kind of help available to you.
One of the most valuable lessons we can learn from hard work is to stop relying on ourselves—as we are all prone to do—and learn to trust God! When you think of work that way, you realize how much it can draw you closer to God each day! When something is too difficult for you, realize that God has the answers! He can give you those answers through the power of His Holy Spirit—and oftentimes through your supervisor, co-workers and family members.
God is a builder. God gave Moses exact instructions for the tabernacle; He gave Solomon precise instructions for the temple; He told Noah exactly how to build the ark. God is the master at everything—and He wants to help you in your job.
Don’t try to do your work on your own. Go to Him! He wants to teach you (Proverbs 8:1-6). He wants to use your work to build your character and to build His relationship with you. What a marvelous process! This isn’t daily drudgery; this is an experience with God as your boss and co-worker! He gives you jobs to do, then helps you accomplish them.
Who Is Your Real Boss?
“Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men” (Ephesians 6:5-7). God doesn’t care who your boss is or what your job is—He wants you to work like you’re working at headquarters in Jerusalem during the Millennium with Jesus Christ as your boss!
Think about your daily work as if you are filling out your job application for God’s Kingdom! God wants to see what kind of a worker you are! So conduct your business like you mean it. Respond to and treat your boss as if he is Christ, and that will deeply affect your job performance.
“Exhort servants to be obedient unto their own masters, and to please them well in all things; not answering again; Not purloining, but shewing all good fidelity; that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Saviour in all things” (Titus 2:9-10). These are really practical points: Please your boss well in all things; don’t talk back; don’t steal time or minimize effort; show yourself faithful in everything you’re entrusted with.
How important is this? God says when you work this way, you are adorning the doctrine of God our Savior in all things! You are preparing for the Kingdom, building the character of God. You are setting a godly example and demonstrating the God Family way of life!
An Education in Unselfishness
Be aware of your boss’s needs and desires—and, if possible, try to provide them before he even asks, the way you would with Jesus Christ! But don’t just take initiative while you’re on the clock: Strive to develop this mindset throughout life. Look for needs and fill them—in your family, in your congregation and beyond.
This is simply a godly way of life. Satan and his society encourage the easy life. But God is developing in us His nature of producing, creating, giving. Work provides an education in becoming unselfish, thinking of what we can provide for others.
Even in times of high unemployment, the truth is that employers everywhere are looking for diligent, reliable, motivated employees. “As vinegar to the teeth, and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him” (Proverbs 10:26). Bosses quickly grow irritated and impatient with employees who drag their feet, exert minimum effort, require constant monitoring to stay on task, produce careless work, distract other employees, take frequent breaks, and allow personal problems to affect their work.
Strive to be that all-too-rare employee who gives a full day’s work, exhibits drive and enthusiasm for the job, listens to instructions and follows through, does a task well and on time, is willing to stay until a job is complete, has a positive attitude and gets along well with others, educates himself about the field in order to become a more valuable worker, and shows concern for company success. Cultivate a godly work ethic, and there will always be work for you!
The Greatest Character Builder
Do you realize what is the most powerful, potent means God has of building His character in us? Herbert W. Armstrong said it was God’s Work! That’s right—the Work of God!
“God has set before us His way of preparing us—by growing in spiritual character, in grace and the knowledge of Christ, ready for our part in the Kingdom, reigning under Christ!” he wrote in a 1974 co-worker letter. “And that way is our part in fulfilling the special end-time work of Matthew 24:14 …!”
This is the way we grow and get ready for the Kingdom: by doing our part to finish the Work! “[T]his great Work of God is the way God has set before us for each to grow and develop spiritually. God’s way—that of His law—is the way of giving, not getting. Those who try to simply get their salvation are in danger of losing it!
“God’s Work is a work of giving—giving the gospel of the Kingdom of God. In 40 years I have observed that only those whose hearts are in this great Work are themselves growing spiritually” (ibid). Think about your support for the Work as God’s number one means not just of getting this Work done, but of re-creating Himself in you!
God has a big job in helping us overcome our selfishness. He uses every means possible to do so: by commanding us to serve others; to pray for others; to teach others; to strengthen our mates, our children, our brethren. And most of all, He helps us by having us put our heart into His Work, which is serving the world by doing God’s business! That is the most powerful and potent means God has to help us get our minds off ourselves and onto the noble business of serving and helping people.
God is a worker! He has big plans to accomplish throughout the universe and for eternity! He is building a family of workers—hard workers—people who love to work! Allow God to reproduce Himself in you through this important part of your life. Build a godly work ethic! Throw yourself into your daily work—and put your whole heart into God’s Work!
Bob Schultz encourages young men to build this mindset: Moving from being a liability to your family to being an asset, even earning money to bring into the home. “The goal isn’t to get rich. The goal is to learn to be a useful man, not a burden,” he wrote. “Have you learned to mow a lawn, clean a gutter, or vacuum a car? Can you quickly wash a window without leaving streaks? Are you strong enough to carry boxes from a house into a moving van? Do you know the needs of children? Can you babysit for an hour or two while a parent runs to the store? When a neighbor takes a vacation, are you responsible enough to watch their house, walk their dog, and weed their garden?
“If you don’t know how to accomplish these simple tasks, ask somebody to teach you. Take the time to learn. Every skill you develop becomes a talent to use at home and to serve your neighbors. The possibilities are endless. Simply find out what people need and provide it. By providing for the needs of others, you’ll have the resources to provide for your own” (op. cit.).