Made to Work | Genesis 3:17-19


God created us to work. It was part of His good and perfect design for humanity (Genesis 2:15). However, because of sin, work is now under the curse and is not what God intended it to be. Timothy “TA” Ateek walks us through the effects of the curse on our work in Genesis 3:17-19 and the ways we can still glorify God through our jobs in Colossians 3:22-24.

Timothy "TA" AteekDec 4, 2022

In This Series (17)
Made for a New World | Isaiah 11:1-16
Oren MartinDec 18, 2022
Made to Be Saved | Genesis 3:15, 21-24
John ElmoreDec 11, 2022
Made to Work | Genesis 3:17-19
Timothy "TA" AteekDec 4, 2022
Made to Gospel Our Relationships | Genesis 3:12-13
John ElmoreNov 27, 2022
Made for a World Without Shame | Genesis 3:7-11
Timothy "TA" AteekNov 20, 2022
Made for a Different World | Genesis 3:1-7
John ElmoreNov 13, 2022
Made for Relationships: Marriage | Genesis 2:18-25
Timothy "TA" AteekNov 6, 2022
Made for Relationship | Genesis 2:18-20
John ElmoreOct 30, 2022
Made to Rest | Genesis 2:1-3
John ElmoreOct 23, 2022
Made to Flourish | Genesis 2:4-25
Blake HolmesOct 16, 2022
God’s Heart for The Nations | Revelation 7:9-17
Timothy "TA" AteekOct 9, 2022
Made in the Image of God | Genesis 1:26-27
Timothy "TA" AteekOct 2, 2022
Great Questions Q&A Panel + MADE: to Teach | Genesis 1-3, 2 Timothy 2:24-26
John Elmore, Cassidy Webber, Brett Bruster, Steven Ateek, Alan BeamSep 25, 2022
How to Hear From God | Genesis 1:1-31
Timothy "TA" AteekSep 18, 2022
The Trinity: Father, Son, and Holy Spirit | Genesis 1:1-5
John ElmoreSep 11, 2022
To Know God is to Worship God | Genesis 1:3-25
John ElmoreAug 28, 2022
Is Your God Too Small? | Genesis 1:1-2
Timothy "TA" AteekAug 21, 2022

In This Series (17)


We were made to work. God originally designed work to be satisfying, enjoyable, and fulfilling, and it was part of His good and perfect design for humanity (Genesis 2:15). We exist on this earth to be image-bearers of God, and our God is a working God. He sets the example for us in His pattern of working and resting (Genesis 2:2). God created work as one way we could experience His goodness. But because mankind rebelled against God, work is not cursed but is under the curse. Now, work is a mixed bag at best in four main ways:

  1. Work can be painful (Genesis 3:17)
    • Work can be physically, emotionally, and relationally painful.
  2. Work can be exhausting (Genesis 3:18)
    • It takes massive amount of work and effort to keep out whatever hinders health and growth.
  3. Work can be discouraging and disappointing (Genesis 3:18)
    • There will be times when we work hard, but the fruit does not match the effort.
  4. Work can be depressing (Genesis 3:19)
    • What was meant to be eternal is now temporary – we and our work on earth will both pass away.

Thankfully, our work still matters because of Jesus’s work on the cross. He knew the curse of work firsthand – His work on earth was painful, exhausting, discouraging, disappointing, and depressing. But He came to deal with the curse of sin and destroy the work of the devil (1 John 3:8). God still cares deeply about our work and desires for us to glorify Him in our jobs. Because of this, we can find meaning in and glorify God through our work in three key ways:

  1. Work conscientiously (Colossians 3:22-23)
    • Don’t work hard only when your boss sees what you’re doing.
    • With the full force of your being, work as if you are working for the Lord and not for man.
  2. Work reverently (Colossians 3:22)
    • Jesus asks us to do our jobs as an act of worship to Him.
    • God is in complete control of our lives. He never wastes time. So if He has us in a job and hasn’t opened a door to go somewhere else, He is not done accomplishing His purposes in us or through us in that job.
  3. Work expectantly (Colossians 3:23-24)
    • A day is coming when God will take us to be with Him – we will work with Him and for Him for all eternity without the curse (Revelation 22:1-3).

Discussing and Applying the Sermon

  • In what ways can you work more conscientiously this week as if you are working for God and not man?
  • How can you work more reverently this week and glorify God through your job?
  • If you work expectantly of the day we will work with and for God free of the curse, what will change about your day-to-day job activities?
  • If you are content in your job, how can you thank God for that blessing?
  • If you are struggling in your job, how can you shift your mindset to make it an act of worship?
  • Additional Scripture: Genesis 2:7, Genesis 2:19, John 6:29
  • Additional Resources: Careers in Motion

Good morning, Watermark. How are we doing today? Okay. One of those mornings, huh? Good to see you too. My name is Timothy Ateek. I'm one of the teaching pastors here. It's so good to be with you. If this is your first time at Watermark, let me just say, "Welcome." I hope it feels like home very quickly.

I know we're in the Christmas season, but I want to talk about our rhythm on Halloween. We normally take our boys out trick-or-treating, and when we get home, we do the same thing. I take my kids' baskets of candy and kind of dump them out on the dining room table, and I begin to sift through them for two reasons. First, the dad tax. It's what I am owed for taking them trick-or-treating. I feel entitled to it.

The second reason I sift through is just to make sure there's nothing that is unsafe for my kids. Anytime I sift through my kids' candy, it's always the same outcome. It's a mixed bag. It is a mixed bag of candy. So, they have the really good stuff and the really bad stuff. There's the cheap stuff that just drives me crazy. It's these small little things that are kind of wrapped up. No one wants these. I take those. Those instantly go in the trash.

There are the people who hand out raisins. I'm like, "People, for one day a year, you can lean into it and give people artificial sugar. This is not nature's candy. This is not candy. This is raisins, and no one wants them on Halloween." You dentists hand out toothbrushes. I get it. You have to stay true to your brand, but seriously, we don't want it. Then you have the Tootsie Roll Pop where the wrapper is halfway off. There is no chance my kid is sticking that in their mouth.

There's the really bad stuff, but then there's the really good stuff. You go to those houses where they give out full size candy bars. It's like this is their game day. We're just so grateful. If you are one of those full size candy bar people, I just say, "Bless you in the name of Jesus." I'm grateful. Then there are the people who don't give out full size; they give out king size. You guys are my favorites. When chocolate and peanut butter get together, it's just glorious. So, thank you to all of you who lean into the king size.

It's a mixed bag, some good, some bad. As I thought about that, the reality is, over the last few weeks, we have been unpacking the consequences of Adam and Eve taking the fruit of the Tree of Knowledge of Good and Evil and disobeying God, rebelling against God. When they ate the fruit, consequences from sin impacted our world, fractured our world. The reality is, in light of the fall, life will be a mixed bag.

It doesn't matter who you are, where you work, how much you get paid, where you live, or how much stuff you have. Life, for you, will be a mixed bag. This morning, as we look into Genesis, chapter 3, we're going to talk, specifically, about the mixed bag of work. I'm talking about our jobs. I'm talking about what you will do when you wake up tomorrow or what you will give at least half of the waking hours of each day this week to: your job, your work.

Whether you get paid for it or not, whether it's in the home or out of the home, it will be a mixed bag. There are going to be times where you love your job and other times where it's a drain. There are going to be times where you have incredible chemistry with your coworkers and other times where there's thick tension. Work will be a mixed bag, yet God cares deeply about our work.

It is possible, and it is God's call on our lives to glorify him in our work. So I want to talk about that this morning. If you have a Bible, turn with me to Genesis, chapter 3, as we continue in our Made series. The reason I'm saying that work will be a mixed bag is simply because of what God tells Adam after he has eaten the fruit in verses 17-19 of chapter 3.

"And to Adam he said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, "You shall not eat of it," cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.'"

Work in this world, your job, will be a mixed bag. Now, before we unpack Genesis 3:17-19, I feel like we need to zoom out or rewind for a moment to make sure we get the right theology of work. If we're not careful, we'll buy into the mentality that work is the curse. Some of y'all are like, "Amen. Yes, it is." But work isn't the curse. As my friend Jeff Ward says, work is not the curse, but work is under the curse. So, it's good for us to zoom out for a minute and see how God wants us understanding work, how God views work.

  1. God _made__ us to work_. Prior to the fall, when God made the first human beings, Adam and Eve, he made them to work. Why do I say that? Well, Genesis 2:15 says, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it." God's intention for Adam and Eve was for them to wake up each day and work. God made Adam and Eve and all humanity image bearers. He made us in his image.

Our responsibility is to image God on the earth. Our God is a working God. God set the model. He worked, and then he rested. Genesis 2:2: "And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done." Don't miss this. God made Adam and Eve to cultivate the earth, which would mean God made Adam and Eve to work the ground and till the soil in the garden of Eden.

What do we know about the ground in the garden of Eden? Well, Genesis 2:7 says, "…then the Lord God formed the man of dust from the ground…" Verse 19 says, "Now out of the ground the Lord God had formed every beast of the field and every bird of the heavens…" So, here's what we know about the ground: the ground produced God's blessing.

God was the first cultivator of the earth. God was the first person to work the ground. When he made Adam and Eve to work the ground, he was making them to do what he had done. When God worked the ground, what did he do? He worked it, and then he stepped back and beheld its goodness. God's intention was for Adam and Eve, and all of humanity, to work the ground and to taste and see that God is good. So, God's intention was that work would be satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable.

Let's play a little word association game really quickly. I'm going to say something, and I want you to think about the first word that comes to mind. You can share it with your spouse or your friend or you can just keep it internal. When you hear Chick-fil-A, what do you think? When you hear eggnog, what's the first word that comes to mind? Your job…first word that comes to mind. Some of y'all are like, "My boss is sitting three rows back."

Here's the next question regarding your job. On a scale of 1 to 10…1 being "I don't think I can wake up and go to work tomorrow; I cannot take it another day," 10 being "Best job ever"…where are you? You can share it if you want. You can internalize it, but what would it be? Here's the vision you should have of the garden of Eden. God's intention for Adam and Eve would be that every day was a 10, and if they were asked, "What word is best associated with your job?" they would say, "It is satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable."

Can you imagine being able to say about your job every single day, "I taste the goodness of God in my work"? Can you imagine that? Without fail. There's no throwaway day. Every day is satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable. But it isn't. Just show of hands. If you're willing and your boss isn't in the room, on that scale from 1 to 10, if you were a 5 or below, would you let me know who you are? Yes. Several people being honest. I appreciate the honesty.

We know why you're a 5 or lower. Genesis 3:17. We know it. If you want to know why you're a 5 or less, it says this: "And to Adam he said, 'Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, "You shall not eat of it," cursed is the ground because of you…'" Do you see it? God says, if you want to know why you're a 5 or less, if you want to know why your job feels like a mixed bag…

Some of y'all are like, "Man, I'm holding a Reese's Peanut Butter Cup right now." Good for you, but for others of you, it's the half-wrapped Tootsie Roll Pop. If this is you right now, God tells us it's because Adam listened to the voice of his wife, and cursed is the ground because of him, because Adam and Eve ate the fruit. That started a ripple effect throughout the course of history to where things are no longer what they should be and life is a mixed bag, including work.

  1. Work is now a mixed bag, at best. When I was prepping for this talk, I couldn't help but think of this movie, which was iconic for my friends and me when we were in college. I am not endorsing this movie. I'm not even encouraging you to go watch this movie, but it's a movie called Office Space, which came out in 1999. If you were in college shortly after Office Space came out, you probably saw it, and Office Space probably became your frame of reference for what work would be like.

I don't think the director of Office Space probably knew it at the time, but all he was doing was representing the reality of Genesis, chapter 3. It is a movie about people who hate their jobs. They hate the commute to work, because when they sit in traffic and change lanes because their lane isn't moving, and they move into the lane that is moving, then that lane stops moving and the lane they were in starts moving. They hate the commute. They hate Monday morning. They hate cover letters on their TPS reports. One guy hates the copy machine, so he takes a baseball bat to it.

They hate consultants coming in because that spells layoffs are coming. It's Genesis, chapter 3. That's it. What's funny is that, for your first job or two out of college, if you saw Office Space, you probably quoted Office Space. There were times where you were like, "I am living in Office Space right now." It's because you're tasting the mixed bag of work, which is a result of the curse on the ground. Work is a mixed bag at best. So, now let's look at chapter 3, verses 17-19, because it spells out for us what we can expect from work now.

Because of the fall, first, work can be painful. Did you see it in verse 17? It said, "…in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life…" Pain is now a part of the human experience in work…physical, emotional, and relational pain. That's why we have workers' comp. Workers' comp exists because you can literally get hurt at your job. You can get fired. Some of you have been fired before, and I wouldn't be surprised if you are still walking with an emotional limp from getting fired.

Some of you know what it's like to go into business or become business partners with a family member or a friend. It seemed like such a great idea in the beginning, and now you guys don't even talk anymore, because work can be that painful. You can work with someone who's super condescending. I was picking up medicine the other day and just watching the way a pharmacist talked to her employees. It was so condescending. "I don't know what you're doing. What are you thinking? I don't even get what you're doing right now." It's painful. Maybe you're like, "You're talking about my boss." Work can be painful.

Work can also be exhausting. Verse 18: "…thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field." Just think about it. Now thorns and thistles are introduced into the mix. And what will thorns and thistles do? They'll choke out all the health. So now Adam and Eve have to work that much harder to ensure the health of the garden. Now work can be exhausting. Do you ever have days, weeks, or months where all it feels like you're doing is putting out fires?

It's just one hard conversation after another, just one complex situation after another. It's just one troubling client after another. Work can be exhausting. Have you ever had to downsize? Have you ever been wrongfully sued? Have you ever had to let someone go, and they tried to torch the place on the way out? It's exhausting. I've had multiple friends who have had to deal with employees stealing significant amounts of money from either their company or their organization…multiple friends. It's exhausting.

Next, work can be discouraging and disappointing. You think about thorns and thistles now growing. Here's what that means: the amount of effort compared to the amount of fruit will now be lopsided. The garden of Eden will never be as fruitful as it once was because it's producing thorns and thistles along with that which is healthy.

Here's what that means. It means work can be very discouraging and disappointing because there are going to be days, weeks, and seasons where the amount of work you put in does not match the results of your work. That can be super discouraging. I mean, your long-time client decides to go in a different direction. The deal you've been working on for months stalls out. No matter what you do in work, it never seems to be good enough for your supervisor. Is that you?

One of my good friends, for a year, was in a job he didn't want to be in. He was waking up at 3:30 or 4:00 in the morning just to start work because he didn't want to get behind, and he wanted to be conscientious at his work. When it came time for his review, all of that work went unnoticed and unappreciated. How discouraging. How disappointing.

Some of our good friends started a company several years ago now. They were so excited about it. They had so much passion for it, but they've just hit one roadblock after another, and now they're at a point where all they want to do is just sell it and be done with it. It's so disappointing for them. It's so discouraging.

They've given so many nights and weekends and time when they were on vacation with their kids, and now they're at a point where they're just saying, "Let's just be done with it." It's disappointing. I've watched multiple friends go unemployed for sometimes weeks, months, and even years, and it's not by choice. Work can be very discouraging and disappointing.

Not just that. Work can also be depressing. Look at verse 19. "By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return." Here's why I say it's depressing: because you're going to die. When God made Adam and Eve, he made them to live forever, which means their work would always have eternal value to it.

Now that death is introduced into the mix, everything that was eternal when it comes to work becomes temporal. Here's what that means. Some of you are very successful in this room. You have given decades of hard work to build something, and it has paid off. You have your name on buildings. People talk about all you've accomplished. When you're not around, they talk about how much money you've probably made and where you live and what car you drive.

They do that in admiration, but here's the thing: you're going to die one day, and no one is going to be talking about you anymore. The next generation is going to move in, and that's who people are going to be talking about. Here's the most depressing thought: your life's work is only a few hires away from ruin. The wrong hires can lead to devastating results to your life's work. How depressing is that.

Let's go to the opposite end of the spectrum. Maybe you haven't achieved what you want to achieve yet, but you want to be successful, so you're kind of climbing the ladder. Some of you are climbing the ladder, and at some point, you're just going to die on a ladder. Aren't you glad you came to church today? If you've ever seen that Saturday Night Live sketch Debbie Downer, this is it. Wah, wah. It's like, "You're going to die. Good luck with that." But there's good news.

We need to understand the movement we're in. God made us to work, and he made work to be satisfying, enjoyable, and fulfilling, yet it's not. It doesn't matter how good you think your job is. It doesn't matter what you think you're holding. In the end, work is now a mixed bag at best because we live under the curse.

  1. Our work still matters because of Jesus' work. God still cares deeply about our work. Our work still matters because of Jesus' work. Our answer this morning is not, "Well, the ground is cursed, so good luck with that." No. Our answer is Jesus. Remember Jesus Christ's work on the cross. If anyone is acquainted with the curse that has been placed on work, it's Jesus.

Think about it. Jesus' clients, which is all of humanity, rejected him. Jesus' coworkers… One of them betrayed him, and the rest deserted him. So, when it comes to work being disappointing or discouraging, Jesus knows it well. When you think about work being exhausting, Jesus was overwhelmed to the point of sweating blood in the garden of Gethsemane before he went to the cross.

When you think about work being painful, Jesus was arrested, beaten, whipped, laughed at, mocked, and ultimately crucified, and when he died on that cross, what was he doing? It wasn't just the physical pain. He was enduring the wrath of God for sin. That is a spiritual pain you and I can never truly fathom: to endure the wrath of God for the sins of the world.

Yet why did Jesus come? Why did Jesus die? Why did Jesus rise from the dead? First John 3:8 puts it so well. If you want to know why Jesus' work is so beautiful, here it is: "The reason the Son of God appeared was to destroy the works of the devil." What were the works of the Devil? Well, it was the Devil in the form of the Serpent that came to Adam and Eve in the garden, who tempted them to sin, which brought the curse of God upon the ground. Jesus has come to destroy the works of the Devil.

So, you think about that ground, which has been cursed by God. That soil that needed to be worked that is now cursed… You think about the soil of your souls. It's cursed like the ground. It was made for relationship with God, yet it is under the curse of God, because the soil of our souls falls under the curse of God due to sin. Yet because Jesus has come to destroy the works of the Devil, his work on the cross and his resurrection from the dead has made a way for the soil of our souls to be cultivated to bring forth life.

So, Jesus Christ has come, and through faith in him… When I talk about putting your faith in Jesus, what I'm talking about is coming to a place where you're not just deciding to start going to church more. You're coming to a place where you realize you need a Savior, and you're saying, "Jesus Christ, I surrender my life to you. Would you come into my life and forgive me of my sins?" When you do that, the Spirit of God is cultivating the soil of your soul, and he's taking the curse of sin and bringing a cure.

Now the soil of your soul is able to produce faith, hope, and love, and you're restored into a right relationship with God. So, now when you wake up and go to work and give half of your waking hours to a job this week, there's purpose. There's meaning. So, what I want to do with the rest of my time is I just want to show you how, even though work is under the curse of sin, it can still be extremely meaningful, and you can glorify God tomorrow when you go to work.

I want you to turn over with me to Colossians, chapter 3. This is important, because what we're about to see is the apostle Paul is addressing households within the church. When he addresses the household, he actually talks to bondservants, or slaves. When we hear that, we feel really uncomfortable. Just to be clear, Paul is not endorsing slavery here, but you also need to know that slavery in the first century was very different than our understanding of slavery today.

Bondservants would sell themselves into slavery. Slaves had dignity. They could marry. They could accumulate wealth and purchase their freedom. All slaves were freed by the age of 30. At one point, two-thirds of the Roman Empire were slaves. My point in telling you that is just to say, when we see Paul talking to slaves or bondservants here, it's not the slavery we know here in the United States.

Now, if you think about a bondservant, a bondservant was someone who lived under the authority of another person. They actually lived in the home with a family, and they lived under someone's authority, and they were required to work. So, it is fitting for us to take the words Paul shares with bondservants and apply them to our work situation, because the majority of us are under someone's authority, whether it's a board of directors or a boss or whatever it is. We're under someone's authority, and we have a responsibility to work. This shows us how to bring meaning to our work and how to glorify God in our work. Paul says this, starting in verse 22:

"Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."

When I look at that, there are three things I want to identify that will make your work meaningful as soon as tomorrow morning, three things you can start doing now to glorify God in your work.

  1. Work conscientiously. Look back at verse 22. Paul says, "Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters…" That wording is key: obey in everything. Obey those who are in authority over you…your boss, your board of directors, whoever it is. Obey in everything…in the things you enjoy doing and in the things you don't enjoy doing; the things that are difficult and the things that are easy.

Obey in everything, regardless of whether you respect your boss, regardless of whether you're getting paid for it, regardless of what other people are doing. You don't excuse your behavior because of what you see other people doing. You obey in everything. Paul gives even more clarity to what he's talking about. He says, "…obey in everything…not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers…"

Watch what's happening here. If you look at the Greek, this idea of eye-service is the idea of only working hard when the person in authority over you can see you working. It's like staying late at work when your boss is there, and when your boss is not there, you leave early. So, you stay late when you're seen. You leave early when you're not seen. It's getting on Zoom and acting like you're engaged when you're actually checking your fantasy league or scrolling through Instagram.

It's scheduling emails to send at times of the day when you're not actually going to be working because you want to have the perception of working in your boss' eyes. Paul would say that's eye-service, and you're just trying to please your boss. There's actually deception to it. I'll explain it this way. When the pandemic hit in 2020, we all became con artists. You're like, "That feels strong." Let me explain.

We all embraced deception. We don't realize it, but we embraced deception. Life got moved on Zoom. What do we start wearing? Nice shirt and pajama pants. Some didn't even put on pants. It was just nice shirt. That's deceptive. Like, we found the one clean corner, the one white wall. We were like, "Man, we're just thriving over here. We just have this 3x3-foot space clean." Every Zoom call I was on, I wanted to be like, "Flip the camera around. I just want to see the world behind the camera." That one small space could be clean, but the rest is falling apart.

The question is…Has that type of deception actually crept into your work? You want the appearance of loving what you do, you want the appearance of working hard, but you actually don't enjoy what you're doing, and you're not working hard. Paul would say that's fake. You're trying to convince your boss of something that's not true. You are a people-pleaser. You have figured out what you need to do to convince your boss of something that's not true. You're not working for your boss; you are working your boss.

So, Paul would say, "Work conscientiously, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but…" Watch the wording. Verse 22: "…but with sincerity of heart…" That word in the Greek that has been translated sincerity carries the idea of singleness…singleness of heart. There's a wholeheartedness. Paul is saying, "Don't be divided in your heart, where part of your life is authentic when you're around friends or family or a church, but then when you're at work it's deceptive, it's inauthentic."

He's saying, "No. Let there be singleness of heart. Work wholeheartedly." Some of y'all are like, "That sounds impossible. You want me to be wholehearted in my work when I feel faint of heart when it comes to my work." Here is the key to wholeheartedness in your work. Watch how he ends verse 22. "…with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord."

Here's what Paul is saying to bondservants. "Look. Don't just focus on the fact that you have an earthly master, because in addition to having an earthly master, you have a heavenly master." Your boss can see you sometimes. God sees you all the time. Paul is saying, "Hey, work with a fear toward the Lord." That fear is a reverence toward the Lord.

He goes on in verse 23. He unpacks it even more. He says, "Whatever you do…" You can put anything in that blank. Whatever you do, whatever email you're sending, whatever pitch you're working on, whatever client you're having to work with, whatever student you're having to teach, whatever patient you are having to treat. "Whatever you do, work heartily…"

The interesting thing is Paul uses a different Greek word when he says, "Work heartily" than he used when he said, "Sincerity of heart." It's the Greek word psuche, which here can be translated soul. The idea here is to work with the full force of your being. To work heartily, or with your psuche, is to work with the full force of your being. Paul says you work with the full force of your being for the Lord, not for men. You're doing your work for the Lord.

I remember I was serving at a Young Life camp years ago, and the camp pastor said, "I want to encourage you guys to do everything as if you were doing it for Jesus Christ. So, when you wash dishes, you wash those dishes as if Jesus is going to be the next person to eat off of them. When you're cleaning toilets, you clean that toilet as if Jesus Christ is the next person to use it." It changes the way you work. You're not just trying to do what will get you by. You want to do things with the full force of your being.

  1. Work reverently. Work reverently as for the Lord. I want to ask you to close your eyes. I don't want to have a staring contest with you. Here's what I want you to do. I want you to think about the hardest part of your job. Think about the thing that drains you the most. What's the thing that requires the most amount of your energy but you have the least amount of excitement for? Now I want you to imagine Jesus asking you to do that part of your job as an act of worship to him. Just imagine that.

Whatever that is, whatever is hardest, least enjoyable, imagine Jesus asking you to do that as an act of worship to him. Now with your eyes closed, I want to invite you right now to pray, because here's the good news. If you know Jesus Christ, God has given his Spirit to you, so you don't have to find the strength yourself. The strength already lives inside of you. It is a person. It is God himself. Jesus Christ has given you his Spirit. God lives inside of you, and the Spirit's goal is to glorify God through you.

So, just pray right now and say, "Holy Spirit, would you give me everything I need, strength from above, to do the hardest part of my job as an act of worship to God?" Then I want to invite you to look back up at me. I just want to say this, because I feel like someone might need to hear it today. If you're in a job that is really tough for you…you are struggling to enjoy it…I want to remind you that God is sovereign over your life. You have that job because God put you at that job. The reason you got hired there is because God allowed you to get hired there.

God does not waste any time. He does not waste seasons. God does not have throwaway days or throwaway seasons. God does not work in holding patterns. If God has not opened up a door for you to do something else, it's because God still has good and perfect plans for you in the position that you're in. You might not be able to see it. That's irrelevant. The reality is God still has things he wants to accomplish in you and through you in that work space.

So, my encouragement to you is to hang on and trust him. Is it okay for you to pray for God to open up another opportunity? Absolutely, but you just need to know God's chief goal in your life might not be for you to enjoy your job right now. God might actually be okay with you not enjoying your job fully for a season because he still has perfect and good purposes he is trying to accomplish in your life and through your life.

I think about the guy I told you about who was waking up at 3:30 or 4:00 each morning. For a year, he prayed God would give him another opportunity, and God didn't for a year. I'm not speaking that on your life. I'm just saying God was doing something in my friend's life. My friend worked conscientiously, and he trusted in the Lord. God stripped things away from his life and refined him and cultivated his faith toward him in a really beautiful way. God is doing something in your life, even if it doesn't feel like he's doing something.

  1. Work expectantly. Look at how Colossians 3 finishes. "Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward." Watch this wording. "You are serving the Lord Christ." You have to picture a bondservant reading this, because bondservants really didn't have a hope of an earthly inheritance. Paul is saying, "You're going to get an inheritance, and it's going to come from the Lord. You're going to be rewarded."

We share that same inheritance. What is inheritance that Paul is talking about here? It's the kingdom of God. It's salvation. It's eternal life with God. Eternal life with God is not the reward for us working hard in our jobs. Eternal life with God comes only through faith in Jesus Christ for the forgiveness of your sins. It only comes through you and me surrendering to Jesus Christ as our Savior and as our King. That's how salvation comes.

But we work with perspective. We know this isn't our home. We're okay to look and say, "Yes, work is a mixed bag, but even in my current work, if it doesn't feel like there's any fruit from my work, a day is coming where there will be an inheritance, and it is eternal life with God and the privilege of working without the curse."

Do you realize you will work for eternity in heaven? You're like, "God, please, no. What are we doing here?" Remember, God made us to work, and work is supposed to be satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable. We will work in heaven, but it won't be under the curse any longer. Where do I get that from? Revelation 22. This shows us the inheritance. This is a vision of the new heavens and the new earth. Hear the hints of the garden of Eden in it.

"Then the angel showed me the river of the water of life, bright as crystal, flowing from the throne of God and of the Lamb through the middle of the street of the city; also, on either side of the river, the tree of life with its twelve kinds of fruit…" It's almost like a better garden. "…yielding its fruit each month. The leaves of the tree were for the healing of the nations."

Watch this. This is key. Verse 3: "No longer will there be anything accursed…" The curse came in Genesis, chapter 3. Now God has brought about a new heaven and new earth. Nothing is accursed. "…but the throne of God and of the Lamb will be in it, and his servants…" Why are we called servants? Because we will serve. "…and his servants will worship him."

Do you remember how Colossians 3:24 ended? It said, "You are serving the Lord Christ." In the new heavens and the new earth, it says, "…his servants will worship him." The Greek word there that has been translated worship… Its primary translation, its primary definition… The 16 times it's used in the New Testament, it is translated serve. For all of eternity, you will serve the Lord. It will be an act of worship, and there will be no more curse. Work will only be satisfying, fulfilling, and enjoyable.

So, let me just ask you. Which are you holding right now? In your job, if you're sitting there holding the king size Reese's Peanut Butter Cup, then let me just encourage you. Before you leave this room, before you leave your chair this morning, praise God for it. Don't take it for granted. Thank God that that is your reality right now. If you're holding the half-wrapped Tootsie Roll Pop, then I want to encourage you to ask God in this moment to give you supernatural strength, strength from above, to wake up tomorrow morning and work conscientiously, reverently, and expectantly.

If you're here today and you don't have a relationship with Jesus Christ, I think it's just good to share with you what Jesus said in John 6:29. He said, "This is the work of God, that you believe in him whom he has sent." This is the work of God. Meaning, this is the work that is most pleasing to God. What is the work that's most pleasing to God? That you believe in him. It's really not work. It's receiving a free gift.

If you're here this morning and you do not know Jesus Christ, Jesus is the one who has fulfilled Colossians 3 perfectly. He is the one who obeyed fully the will of the Father. He is the one who with full sincerity of heart went to the cross, taking your sins and mine upon himself, and he is the one who has been rewarded for it.

When he rose from the dead, he ascended into heaven, and he has been given the name that's above every name, that every knee would bow and every tongue would confess that Jesus Christ is Lord. His inheritance one day, along with the Father and the Spirit, will be the saints, the people of God. Do you know him? If not, that's the work God cares about: that you would believe in him, Jesus Christ. Let's pray together.

Lord Jesus, you know the needs that are in the room right now. God, you know those who this talk is really hard for because the thought of waking up and going to work tomorrow just feels daunting, yet that's where you have them right now. So, I pray for strength from above, that you would give people everything they need to glorify you in their work.

For those who are in a great place at work, Lord, I pray they would see that as a gift from you and would praise you for it. If there's anyone here today who doesn't know you, then even right now, may they call upon you. May they be saved, for their good and for your glory. We love you. We trust you. We thank you for the beautiful work of the cross and the empty tomb, which brings meaning to our work. We love you. In Jesus' name, amen.