Work, work, work

Bishop’s Message

“I have some jokes about unemployed people. None of them work.”

That joke works because the word “work” works in different ways. “Work” on earth, and in the Bible, also works in different ways.

Negative work
Their works are works of iniquity, and deeds of violence are in their hands.
~ Isaiah 59:6

In Isaiah 2:8, God warns us against becoming people who idolise their work, who “bow down to the work of their hands, to what their own fingers have made”. Here is work that exerts a negative influence on human lives. Isaiah 59:6 describes sinful work in terms of deeds which inflict violence upon our world.

Peaceful work
O LORD, you will ordain peace for us, for you have indeed done for us all our works.
~ Isaiah 26:12

In contrast, Isaiah 26:12 describes God’s good works through human beings in terms of peacemaking and building. This is the kind of work that God has ordained or appointed
humans to do. Work that promotes peace and wholeness in people’s lives rather than work
that violates and destroys.

Frustrating work
Sadly, we live in a world where negative, violent work often overpowers those who work for peace and wholeness of life. Good work, which should be fulfilling, is frequently fraught with frustration and futility. Isaiah 65:22 describes this frustration in terms of building a home which others hijack for themselves; and the futility of producing crops which the farmer’s family are not able to eat and enjoy.

Fulfilling work
But let us not succumb to work that violates ourselves and others. Instead, may this Lunar New Year see us still working with God for good, and let us keep faith in God’s promise that one day, we will indeed enjoy fully the good work of our hands.


They shall not build and another inhabit; they shall not plant and another eat … my chosen shall long enjoy the work of their hands.
~ Isaiah 65:22

Bishop Dr Gordon Wong was elected Bishop of The Methodist Church in Singapore in 2020.
He served as President of the Trinity Annual Conference from 2012-2020.