The Spiritual Dimension of Our Everyday Work

By Engr. Carlos Cornejo

Some people might shun work and be turned off from it because it requires effort and with effort there is tiredness. We might ask, “Is work a punishment from God?  The answer is no.  From the beginning, even before original sin, God intended for man to work.   “And the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to do work in it and take care of it”.  (Genesis 2:15) God made the world incomplete because he wanted man to complete it and be a co-creator.  Man was made to be a participant and not just a spectator in the work of creation.

However, after original sin, work seems to be a punishment.  If we read in Genesis 3:19, “By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread until you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken…”  It is not work itself being the punishment, but the tiredness that goes along with it.  The pain of work along with sickness, suffering and death are consequences of original sin.

God made man to work as birds were made to fly.  It is through work that man is able to express his creativity as well as his personality.  Work is also an occasion to commune with other people.  It becomes an avenue to serve others and to the community as a whole.  When you approach your work as an opportunity to serve others it becomes a whole new vision.  You will make sure people get the best service or the best product.  In my entrepreneurship class I would always raise the most common question about business, “What is the purpose of business?”  And I would always get the most common answer, “To make money.”  This kind of answer is a product of conventional thinking or nowadays it’s called groupthink that often times is wrong because it hardly makes a deep reflection on the right answer.  The correct answer is “To offer a quality product or service.”  When you make this your priority, profit will just follow.  Besides, “to make money” as a motive, sounds selfish and self-serving.

But most importantly, work is a spiritual undertaking.  We can offer our work to God as a fragrant sacrifice acceptable to Him.  We ought to remember that Christ did not just redeem us by dying on the Cross.  His whole life was a work of redemption.  In other words, His carpentry work, His every day ordinary life in Nazareth (eating, sleeping, enjoying the company of others, etc.) that took place before He started preaching, was part of His work of redeeming us by offering all these to God the Father.  Christ’s work as a carpenter along with the tiredness that went with it, was part of our redemption.  We have to remember that we can offer to God anything as long as it is not sinful.  “So, whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” (1 Corinthians 10:31)

Offering our work to God would now be another whole new approach towards work.  If we are to offer our work to God, then we should work well because we can’t offer to God a sloppy job. “You must not sacrifice to the Lord your God an ox or a sheep that has a defect, anything that is seriously wrong; for that is abhorrent to the Lord your God.”  (Deuteronomy 17:1) On the contrary God deserves the best.  It should be a pleasing offering by giving it our best much like the offering of Abel when he reserved the best produce for God. (Genesis 4:4) And what reward do we get if we do this?  A closer relationship with God and the gift of grace to help us in our work.  Thus, it becomes a virtuous cycle.  If we offer our work to God, in return God gives us the grace to work even better and to work with joy.  This is the secret to working productively and cheerfully even if no supervisor or boss is watching. And even if we are supposed to be bored with our work since we do it every day, the grace of God helps us to be happy, cheerful, and persevering in our everyday work.  “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” (Colossians 3:23)