The third leg of the Capitalism and Christianity stool comes from our call to work. While God created us to be producers and managers, he also created us to be workers. Even before the Fall, man was called to work;
The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it. (Genesis 2:15 ESV)
People often see work as a burden, as something bad, but work was meant as a good thing for man to do. It was man’s disobedience that led to the Fall and that in turn fundamentally changed the way in which we work.
And to Adam God 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. (Genesis 3:17-19 ESV)
As a result of the Fall, work became difficult, but that does not fundamentally change its original purpose. God did not put Adam to work as punishment. Employment is an opportunity for us to glorify God. We can glorify God in our relationships with superiors and subordinates. When the relationship between employer and employee is working properly, both parties can benefit. Most simply, work enables us to be obedient and productive and relational.
Striving to improve our work is another way to glorify God. Competition helps us to grow the gifts that God has given us. We are pushed to higher expectations, to get better at creating things, reflecting God’s desire to have us to do well and improve what we are able to do. The competitive system tests our abilities and if we are able to do them well, we will be paid for it. The Olympics have just finished and while the athletes are not getting paid for their participation, the games are one of the best examples of the glory God can get from those who work hard and push themselves and develop the talents God has given them.
This is not to argue that work doesn’t play a part in any other other economic system nor any other religion. What is does say however, is that as Christians, we should believe that work is good, and that it has been negatively affected by the Fall, but that one day in the New Heavens and New Earth, it will again be as it was first meant to be.
They shall build houses and inhabit them; they shall plant vineyards and eat their fruit. They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat; for like the days of a tree shall the days of my people be, and my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands. They shall not labor in vain . . . (Is 65:21–23 ESV)
Do you see your work as a curse or as a way to be blessed and glorify God?