An Excerpt from The Work Book: What We Do Matters to God
Tony Cooke

"The Work Book" by Tony CookeThis book will focus on the works of believers, and the significance of what we do with our lives. Works are a major theme from the very beginning to the very end of Scripture. So predominant is the Bible’s teaching on work and works that I almost entitled the book Workology.

In spite of its great significance and importance, work is a word that many people do not want to hear when it comes to Christianity or spiritual things. Christians love words like, “grace,” “free gift,” and “rest.” Those are wonderful words—biblical words—and they all have a vital role in our Christian life. But work, in a positive sense, is also extremely biblical, and it also deserves our attention and study.

The grace of God doesn’t make our works irrelevant or unimportant. Rather, grace—having saved us—then enables us to do works that are beneficial to others and pleasing to God. I’m not talking about us doing works in order to earn salvation—that is an impossibility, as salvation is a gift from God that is received by faith. However, our works are to express our salvation and give evidence of it.

One of the first lessons we learn from the Bible is that God, the Creator of the Universe, is a working and productive Being. After reading of the origin of all things, we read in Genesis 2:2-3, “And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made.”

Jesus acknowledged that God was still active and working when He said, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17, NLT). The Amplified version renders that verse, “My Father has worked [even] until now, [He has never ceased working; He is still working] and I, too, must be at [divine] work.”

So if the Father and Jesus are both Workers, it stands to reason (since we are created in the image and likeness of God), that we are to be workers as well. Some have erroneously believed that man did not have to work until after the fall—after sin came into the picture. But that’s not true. Adam was given a job before the fall of man took place. Work, productivity, and purpose was part of God’s plan for man from the very beginning. Sinclair B. Ferguson said, “Twentieth-century man needs to be reminded at times that work is not the result of the Fall. Man was made to work, because the God who made him was a ‘working God.’ Man was made to be creative, with his mind and his hands. Work is part of the dignity of his existence.”

In Exodus 18:20, God told Moses, “And you shall teach them the statutes and the laws, and show them the way in which they must walk and the work they must do.” Did you catch that last part? Moses was to teach and to show the people “the work they must do.” There was value in the work the people of God did then, and there is value in the work that God’s people do today.

God gave Nehemiah the monumental task of rebuilding the destroyed walls of Jerusalem after the Babylonian captivity. Wisely, he organized and delegated the responsibilities among the people. Even Israel’s enemies were surprised how quickly the wall was rebuilt, Nehemiah 4:6 reveals the secret of their effectiveness. “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a mind to work.” Good things happen when people work, especially when they work in unison with a godly purpose.

Today, people have a mind to be blessed, a mind to be lifted up, a mind to receive encouragement. But I sometimes wonder how much believers have a mind to work. Having a good work ethic applies to Christian service or volunteerism and to what we do “secularly” or on our normal jobs (I don’t like those terms, because everything we do should be done as unto the Lord). Proverbs is full of admonitions about the benefits of industriousness and diligence, as well as the detriment of laziness.

One of the very important things a young person can acquire is a good work ethic.

My friend, Pastor Gerald Brooks, told me, “For years, I have told young people entering the work force that if they will do these five things, they will be in the top 10% of workers in America.

  1. Show up.
  2. Show up on time.
  3. Show up prepared.
  4. Show up to do your best.
  5. Show up and do it for Jesus.

Not only does our work serve and help others, but the way we work—the attitude, integrity, and character we demonstrate—provides a window for others to be influenced by a positive Christian witness. Pastor Jim Cobrae says, “Over the years, I have taught the people that they are the full-time ministers of Jesus Christ. God has called every person that is born of the Spirit of God to be a full-time minister. God just dresses these people up every week and sends them into the work place. Some of them put on their painters’ outfits and become house painters. Another one may be a nurse. Another guy works for the fire department, and He dresses him up. At the end of the week they get a paycheck. But during that week, that’s their ministry. And during that week they are to act out the Word, they are to be encouraging to people around them. They are to work harder than anybody else. And then, because the world is looking for a hero, they introduce Jesus to these people that are lost and dying. God is building His people to become the instruments that He can use—to be the distributors of God’s goodness and of God’s goods upon the face of the earth.”

We are here to make a difference in the world, and change happens when people act. Early in His ministry, Jesus made it clear to His disciples that they were called to produce good works. “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven” (Matthew 5:16).

Paul instructed Titus, a young pastor on the island of Crete, to strongly emphasize the importance of good works to the believers there:

  • “…in all things showing yourself to be a pattern of good works; in doctrine showing integrity, reverence, incorruptibility…” (Titus 2:7).
  • “…who gave Himself for us, that He might redeem us from every lawless deed and purify for Himself His own special people, zealous for good works” (Titus 2:14).
  • “Remind them to be subject to rulers and authorities, to obey, to be ready for every good work…” (Titus 3:1).
  • “This is a faithful saying, and these things I want you to affirm constantly, that those who have believed in God should be careful to maintain good works. These things are good and profitable to men” (Titus 3:8).
  • “And let our people also learn to maintain good works, to meet urgent needs, that they may not be unfruitful” (Titus 3:14).

This is just a brief snapshot of what is going to be extensively detailed in our new book that will be released in June. If you would like to place an order for it now, you can do so using the enclosed response slip. Our prayer for you this month is that you would, “…be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord” (1 Corinthians 15:58).

Order Your Copy of “The Work Book: What We Do Matters to God.”