When Work Doesn’t Work

When Work Doesn’t Work

For the purposes of this devotion, work will be defined as:

making, modifying, manipulating or moving
physical, mental, emotional or spiritual
materials, people, abilities or ideas

Work can be difficult or effortless, delightful or drudgery, productive or wasteful, done well or done poorly, right or wrong, for man’s benefit or detriment, a noble endeavor or a selfish undertaking, for God’s glory or Satan’s delight…

And according the Holy Bible, using the definition for work above:

God (Father, Son and Holy Spirit) Works
  • Genesis 2:2 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.
  • Hebrews 1:10 And: “You, Lord, in the beginning laid the foundation of the earth, And the heavens are the work of Your hands.
  • John 5:17 But Jesus answered them, “My Father has been working until now, and I have been working.”
  • John 10:25 Jesus answered them, “I told you, and you do not believe. The works that I do in My Father’s name, they bear witness of Me
  • Exodus 35:31 and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom and understanding, in knowledge and all manner of workmanship,
  • 1 Corinthians 12:11 But one and the same Spirit works all these things, distributing to each one individually as He wills.
    • God’s work is always good, marvelous, awesome, perfect, done in truth, empowering, enabling, effective (see also Genesis 1:31, Exodus 34:10, Deuteronomy 32:4, Psalm 33:4).

Satan Works
  • 2 Thessalonians 2:9-10 The coming of the lawless one is according to the working of Satan, with all power, signs, and lying wonders, 10 and with all unrighteous deception among those who perish, because they did not receive the love of the truth, that they might be saved.
  • 1 John 3:8 He who sins is of the devil, for the devil has sinned from the beginning. For this purpose the Son of God was manifested, that He might destroy the works of the devil.
    • Satan’s work is always destructive, deceptive, damaging, untruthful, unrighteous, etc.

People Work
  • Genesis 2:15 Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it.
  • Proverbs 31:13 She seeks wool and flax, And willingly works with her hands.
  • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.
    • People’s work can be good, evil, virtuous, wicked, an indicator of our allegiances, etc. Able people are expected to work.  
    • People were intended to appreciate, honor and emulate God’s example of work (see also Exodus 23:12, Psalm 141:4, Proverbs 18:9, John 7:7, 1 Peter 2:12, 1 John 3:12).

Animals Work
  • Exodus 23:12 Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.
  • Deuteronomy 25:4 “You shall not muzzle an ox while it treads out the grain.
  • Isaiah 30:24 Likewise the oxen and the young donkeys that work the ground Will eat cured fodder, Which has been winnowed with the shovel and fan.
    • Animals work for their survival and the benefit of man. God expects man to treat animals well (see Proverbs 12:10).

The Bible also tells us about why people work and the ramifications of their work.

Christians are Intended for Good Works
  • Ephesians 2:10 For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.
    • We shine as lights in a dark world to glorify God and draw others to Him.

God has Equipped Christians for Their Good Works
  • 2 Timothy 3:17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
    • When God gives you a task, He equips you to do it.

Good Works are a Byproduct and Indicator of a Christian’s Faith
  • James 2:18 But someone will say, “You have faith, and I have works.” Show me your faith without your works, and I will show you my faith by my works.
  • James 2:26 For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.
    • Saving faith in Jesus Christ results in good works.

Human Nature Leads to Evil Works
  • Galatians 5:19-21 Now the works of the flesh are evident, which are: adultery, fornication, uncleanness, lewdness, 20 idolatry, sorcery, hatred, contentions, jealousies, outbursts of wrath, selfish ambitions, dissensions, heresies, 21 envy, murders, drunkenness, revelries, and the like; of which I tell you beforehand, just as I also told you in time past, that those who practice such things will not inherit the kingdom of God.
    • If you don’t believe in the inherent sin nature of the human race, read some history, turn on the news, leave your doors unlocked, believe everything you hear…

Those Who Will Spend Eternity in Heaven are Rewarded According to Their Works
  • Revelation 22:12 “And behold, I am coming quickly, and My reward is with Me, to give to every one according to his work.
    • Christians have to answer for what they have done and not done with what God has given them. Our forgiveness and salvation are secure; our Heavenly rewards from Christ depend on our works.

Those Who Will Spend Eternity in Hell are Judged According to Their Works
  • Revelation 20:12 And I saw the dead, small and great, standing before God, and books were opened. And another book was opened, which is the Book of Life. And the dead were judged according to their works, by the things which were written in the books.
    • The lost will be held accountable for every sin they ever committed because they never accepted Christ’s payment for their sins.

Yet the point of this devotion is to make sure you understand one critical point:

You cannot earn salvation and the forgiveness of your sins by good works!
  • Ephesians 2:8-9 For by grace you have been saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God, 9 not of works, lest anyone should boast.
  • 2 Timothy 1:9 who has saved us and called us with a holy calling, not according to our works, but according to His own purpose and grace which was given to us in Christ Jesus before time began,
  • Titus 3:5 not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, through the washing of regeneration and renewing of the Holy Spirit,

Salvation is an unearned gift
from God that we do not deserve!
That is the definition of grace!

If you are working to get it or working to keep it, you are saying that God owes you!
  • Romans 4:4-5 Now to him who works, the wages are not counted as grace but as debt. 5 But to him who does not work but believes on Him who justifies the ungodly, his faith is accounted for righteousness,
  • Romans 11:6 And if by grace, then it is no longer of works; otherwise grace is no longer grace. But if it is of works, it is no longer grace; otherwise work is no longer work.

If this doesn’t make sense to you, I pray that God’s Word and Holy Spirit will open your eyes to the truth. Humbly ask God to reveal Himself to you. Ask Him for the truth about work and the peace that comes with that truth. There are not enough good works in the world to offset how our sin has offended God.


Dear Lord, only by Your Spirit can Your truths be comprehended. Please Father, for anyone seeking Your love, Your grace, Your truth, Your forgiveness, I beg You to grant it according to Your perfect will. I pray this in the name of Your only begotten Son, Jesus Christ. Amen.