The Importance of Vocation – page 5


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From the Summer 2018 issue of Knowing & Doing:

The Importance of Vocation

by Mark R. Talbot, Ph.D.
Associate Professor of Philosophy, Wheaton College

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    Even now, after the Fall, work well done gives meaning and brings pleasure (see Eccl. 2:24; 3:13). This is especially true when the work is important – and the work God has assigned to us as His images, as those who find our day-to-day meaning in working as God worked (see Gen. 2:2-3, 15),11 is as important as can be. God named nothing in creation after He named the earth and the seas (see Gen. 1:10), leaving us the task of naming the animals as well as making other crucial classifications and distinctions (see Gen. 2:19-20; 1 Kings 3:16-28). Solomon continued this work (see 1 Kings 4:29-34). There is also the work of building and planting (see Eccl. 2:4-5; Prov. 24:30-34), the work of nurturing and educating (see, e.g., Deut. 6:4-7; Ps. 78:1-8; Prov. 31:26), the work of making and arranging proverbs (see 1 Kings 4:32; Eccl. 12:9), the work of writing and performing music (see Deut. 31:19-22; I Kings 4:32; 2 Chron. 5:13), the work of worshiping and celebrating (see Ps. 100:1; 95:1-2, 6-7; 149:2), works of mercy (Job 29:11-17; Prov. 31:20; Matt. 25:31-46) as well as, in New Testament times, the work of evangelizing (Matt 28:19-20; 2 Tim. 4:1-5) and preaching and teaching (see 1 Tim. 5:17-18). Indeed, there are as many kinds of work as there are tasks to be worked at, including shop keeping, practicing medicine, consulting, working in the money markets, serving food – and even being professors of philosophy!12
  At the end of a day’s work in the garden our first parents were probably weary. As C.S. Lewis observes, very minor aches can actually be pleasant. They only become painful when increased.13 Only spoiled children expect everything to be effortless.14
  Now, east of Eden, our work is often unpleasant, sometimes painful, and at times frustrating or futile. Now we must pray that the Lord will look on our work with favor and thus “establish the work of our hands” (Ps. 90:17). This is in fact part of what the LORD’S having cursed the ground in Genesis 3:17-19 is meant to encourage. The travails now accompanying our daily tasks should not dissuade us from fulfilling our God-given vocation. They should keep us mindful of Him.



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