Posted by: Brian Musser | May 13, 2014

Work and Worship

Work-Ship – Week Five:  Humanity as Workers – Day Thirty-Four:  Work as Worship

God has created and commanded us to be workers.  God has also designed us to be able to work and place us in a context that enables us to work.  We are able to work.  We are challenged to work.  We are designed to work.  We have the resources within and around us in order to work.  And we have a God given community in which to work with.

As we work as God has created us to, as we work in response to God’s command, as we work as God has designed us to, as we work in God’s context and in our God given community, our work can be worship.  Our work can produced as spirit of worship within us and as others see us worship God while working it can even lead them into the worship of God.  Work is intimately connected to worship.

This is the line of thinking that prompted my interest in work as worship.  This is one of the key thoughts that bring this whole devotional journey together.  This is where the title of Work-Ship was developed.  Allow me a moment to show some scriptural support.

Genesis 2:15 (NIV) The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

In this verse we see God place man in the garden to work it.  That word may be translated in your version as dress, cultivate, farm or till.  But the Hebrew word is a very generic version of the word work.  It is only translated differently from work because that is the type of work you do in a garden.  The actual Hebrew word is ” ‘âbad.”  That word can mean many types of work.  It is often translated into different words based on the context of the sentence.  The translation of the Bible sponsored by King James in the 1600’s translates it “to dress” because they used the word dress to describe gardening in that time period.  This word ” ‘âbad ” is used often in the Hebrew Old Testament.   In fact it is 294 times.  The vast majority of these are translated “serve” (163 times) because of the context that the word occurs.  Many of these are in reference to the Israelites’ service to God.  Here are 5 of the 163 times:

Deuteronomy 6:13 (NIV) Fear the Lord your God, serve him only and take your oaths in his name.

Deuteronomy 10:12 (NIV) And now, Israel, what does the Lord your God ask of you but to fear the Lord your God, to walk in obedience to him, to love him, to serve the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul,

Deuteronomy 10:20 (NIV) Fear the Lord your God and serve him. Hold fast to him and take your oaths in his name.

Deuteronomy 11:13 (NIV) So if you faithfully obey the commands I am giving you today—to love the Lord your God and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul—

Deuteronomy 13:4 (NIV) It is the Lord your God you must follow, and him you must revere. Keep his commands and obey him; serve him and hold fast to him.

This shows that there is no linguistic difference in the Hebrew Old Testament between the work Adam does while tending the garden of Eden and our duty to serve God.  As you work at your job, your career, your occupation, your employment or your responsibility, your work is connected to your worship.  Work and service to God are intertwined.  You cannot always show where one ends and the other begins.  Work and worship are related.

Are there parts of your job that feel as if you are serving God directly?  Are there parts of your job that you have trouble connecting to the service of the Lord?  Are there parts of your job that feel like they are contradictory to serving God?

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