This week, churches following the common cycle readings for the Christian year will read the “Parable of the Talents” (Matthew 25:14-30).
Even if that is not your tradition, this article presents the opportunity for you to join believers around the world as they ponder this passage anew. While the “Parable of the Talents” proves multivalent, presenting many possible applications, this meditation will linger on one; God created mankind to engage in meaningful work.
Meaningful work appears as a theme in scripture from the beginning.
In the book of Genesis, God placed man in the garden. Why? “To work it.” Indeed, in the “Parable of the Talents,” the master commends the two servants who engage in productive activity. We may be doubly sure of this principle, because scripture everywhere condemns the converse: idleness.
The book of Ecclesiastes says, “Because of laziness the roof caves in, and because of idle hands the house leaks.” The “Parable of the Talents” likewise condemns idleness in no uncertain terms. The parable vividly portrays a servant who does not serve, and thus does not fulfil his ends, and is justly called “worthless.”
Having established that God created mankind to engage in meaningful work, the logical question follows: “What is meaningful work?”
The Christian witness answers this question with amazing uniformity. The Catechism of the Roman Catholic church states, the “end of man…is the procuring of the glory of God.”
Likewise, the Westminster Catechism proclaims, “Man’s chief end is to glorify God, and to enjoy him forever.”
Scripture itself testifies, in the book of Corinthians, “Whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.”
So at the end of our meditation, we come to a surprising conclusion: God created us for meaningful work and anything we do for his glory becomes meaningful. Clearly this rules out anything unethical or immoral, but it also astonishingly rules in almost any other human activity done with a God-ward orientation. So in the weeks to come, be encouraged. Whatever you put your hands to, whether you are a private, a drill sergeant, or even the commanding general, yours is a sacred calling. Do your very best, do it all for glory of God, and may you enjoy him forever.