There is no work-free option.
On your busiest, most harried day, what is it you dream of doing instead? Do you long for the moment when you can put your feet up and put away the cares of the day? Or do you wonder if things would be easier if you were doing a different job, had made a different choice?
When these discontented daydreams swirl within us, it’s helpful to remember: There is no work-free option. And that is good.
We can easily think of the thing we’re not doing in a certain season as somehow easier, dreamier, or less work-intensive. Perhaps we watch our spouse head off to the office each day and envy his quiet car drive alone. Or maybe we’re the one stuck at a laptop to meet our work deadlines, wishing we could be with our family instead. Both occasions are an opportunity to remind ourselves: There is no work-free option. And that is good.
That’s because we were made to work.
We think of the word “work” as a synonym for drudgery, but it was not originally meant to be so. God declared work good when he entered into the first work of creation in Genesis 1.
On the sixth day of creation, God made men and women in his image and invited them into his good work, saying to them, “Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth” (Gen. 1:28).
Each of these bolded words implies an act of work. What are the ways that you, in the work of today, are fruitful, multiplying, filling, subduing and exercising dominion? Whether we are filling the cabinets with clean dishes or subduing our email inbox, all of it is work that can be done to the glory of God.
Each of these commands also involved effort, and exertion—but perhaps not as much as that same work involves today. That’s because, after Adam and Eve disobeyed God, their work was one of the aspects of creation that was cursed. That which was good and purposeful was still just that, but now it would all be done under the gravity of sin that weighs down work in this world.
“The creation was subjected to futility” or frustration, Romans 8:20-21 tells us. But it doesn’t stop there. It was frustrated “. . . in hope that the creation itself will be set free from the bondage to decay into the glorious freedom of God’s children.”
Through Christ, the work that was cursed can be redeemed. The one who created us for good works, which he prepared for us beforehand (Eph 2:8-9), is not foiled or surprised by our struggle with sin. Rather, He is glorified when His image bearers look to Him for help and depend on Him to do the good work before them.
“And whatever you do, in word or in deed, do everything in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him” (Col. 3:17).
Maybe it’s hard to see all you do through this lens of work, or especially as “good” work. But the more we develop this theology of work, the more we see that all we do can be done as unto the Lord.
“So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do everything for the glory of God.” (1 Cor. 10:31).
How do the things you’ve already done today fit into this broad category of work? Did you grind coffee beans to make your morning cup? Did you change a diaper or change a tire before heading out for work? Did you graciously respond to a difficult employee’s email or to a difficult customer at your retail job?
Rehearsing the truth that all of this is work helps us declare that all of it can be redeemed. All of it can be done to God’s glory, in service to others and as a form of sanctification to form us into a closer picture of God’s image.
This means that, whether you remain in the four walls of your home all day or venture into a corporate office full of people, there is no work-free option. Caring for elderly family members is a good work. Caring for yourself is a good work. Caring for a garden is a good work. Caring for the things you are paid to care for is a good work. Caring for the things or people you are not “paid” to care for is a good work.
Our culture tells us that we work hard so we can play or relax later. In Christ, we rest in his finished work, allowing all we do to flow from our already-not-yet rest in Him. That changes how we view work and ourselves as workers. That can transform our longing for a work-free weekend into stewardship of the good work of today.
 We know creation was work because Genesis 2:3 tells us that “God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.”