Work and Our Labor in the Lord by James M. Hamilton Jr. Crossway. 128 pages. 2017.
This book, a biblical theological study on the topic of work, is part of the “Short Studies in Biblical Theology” series from Crossway. In the book, pastor, professor, and biblical scholar James Hamilton explores how work fits into the big story of the Bible; revealing the glory that God intended when he gave man work to do, the ruin that came as a result of the fall, and the redemption yet to come, offering hope for flourishing in the midst of fallen futility.” The book begins by looking at God’s design for work in the very good creation, prior to sin. From there it moves to consider what work looks like in a fallen world and what work should be in the kingdom that the Lord Christ has inaugurated. The book concludes by looking at what the Bible indicates about work in the new heaven and the new earth the Lord Jesus will bring. The book enables us to explore work as it was meant to be, as it is, as it can be, and as it will be.
Below are ten of my takeaways from this short, but meaty, book:
- Work is neither punishment nor cursed drudgery but an exalted, Godlike activity.
- Being in the image and likeness of God, working to fill the earth with God’s image bearers, subduing it according to God’s character, ruling it as God’s representative—work points to the character and glory of God.
- Work continues to point beyond itself, with the character of God being displayed in the way God’s people do their work.
- God made man to work, but sin resulted in God’s judgment. God’s word of judgment against sin makes the work painful, the environment cursed, and the relationships between men and women strained. Because of sin, work will be futile, frustrating, and fatal. Everyone dies.
- The fact that the man and woman are allowed to continue in their work, cursed though it is, means that they still have the job of making the ways of God known in the world.
- To bear his image as Christlike imitators of God, Christians must reflect the one they worship in the way they work.
- Work that does not communicate love for God and neighbor is idolatrous because such work exalts something other than God as ultimate, making a god of oneself or mammon or one’s agenda or whatever.
- The new work we will do is the work of ruling and subduing, working and keeping, exercising dominion and rendering judgment, all as God’s people in God’s place in God’s way.
- Jesus will come and make it so that mankind can do the work in the world that God created us to do.
- God built us to do something, and in the new heavens and the new earth we will be liberated to do the work for which God fitted us when he formed us in the womb.