Will We Have Work to Do in Heaven?

Contributing Writer
Will We Have Work to Do in Heaven?

Most people hate work. I used to tell people, “Yes, work is hard, that’s why they don’t call it fun.” We can’t wait for vacations, saving large amounts of money and looking forward to “time off” of work. We celebrate when someone gets to retire from work, when they hit a certain number of years in the job or reach a certain age. Now they get to live the dream of “not working.” 

Therefore, it’s difficult for us to think of work in heaven. Isn’t heaven supposed to be fun? Work isn’t fun. Shouldn’t paradise be the opposite of work? 

At the same time, certain images of heaven seem boring. We just sit around and play harps on clouds? 

Perhaps work means something more to God, something different. Maybe in a broken world, we’ve lost sight of God’s design for what it means to work and what heaven will be like. And going back to the beginning, we might see this design.

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What Was God’s Original Design for Work?

person planting small flower butterfly coming close to flower

In Genesis 1:26-28, God creates humanity in his own image and likeness, bestowing upon them the responsibility to rule over the earth and all living creatures. This divine commission is a reflection of God's original plan for work: to steward and cultivate the resources of the earth in partnership with him. The mandate to “be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth and subdue it” (Genesis 1:28) highlights humanity’s role as co-creators with God, entrusted with the care and development of his creation.

Adam and Eve hadn’t sinned or brought corruption on the face of the earth. God created and placed them within a perfect world. As part of that perfection, he gave them jobs to do. 

As God made humanity in his own image, we should look at the nature and character of God. Jesus says about God, “My Father is always working, and so am I” (John 5:17). God’s nature is to be active, not passive. Even God’s word is alive and active (Hebrews 4:12), able to accomplish things when God speaks. Our first introduction to God in Genesis includes activity, the creation of all we see through his word. 

God is also always at rest and peace. For us, in our broken world, we see an either/or nature to work and rest. However, God’s activity doesn’t disturb his peace, and he created Adam and Eve in the same mindset. He fashioned humanity on the sixth day of Creation, and God rested the next day. 

The first day Adam and Eve knew was rest. Then God gave them mission and purpose from the place of rest, not to acquire it. 

Adam and Eve’s work required their intimate relationship with God. God made the Garden, and they needed his guidance to correctly understand and steward it. God and humanity worked together in joy, peace, and activity to accomplish the Father’s purposes. Adam and Eve worked from rest and relationship with God. Adam’s naming of the animals (Genesis 2:19-20) and Eve’s role as Adam’s partner (Genesis 2:18) illustrate the creative and collaborative nature of work within the context of God's original design.

This explains why every human desperately longs for purpose and intimacy. Yet we don’t often find it in our work in this world. Why not? What changed?

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How Did the Curse Change the Nature of Work?

Stressed out woman at work

The Fall of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden marked a pivotal moment in human history, profoundly altering the nature of work and labor. When Adam and Eve sinned, death – or what we may call entropy – entered the world. Entropy is the eventual decline and death of all things. Nothing lasts. The things meant to bring joy would now bring pain. The Bible explains this entropy in both humanity and the earth. 

In Genesis 3:17-19, God pronounces judgment upon Adam and Eve following their disobedience. To Adam, he declares, “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat food from it all the days of your life. It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

This pronouncement signifies a significant departure from the idyllic work that Adam and Eve previously enjoyed. Instead of effortless abundance and harmony with creation, the harsh reality of labor confronts them through toil, struggle, and frustration. Before, they simply ate from any tree they wanted for their own satisfaction. Now, they must struggle to stay alive.

The curse extends beyond the realm of physical labor to encompass the entirety of human existence. The sweat of Adam's brow serves as a poignant reminder of the pervasive effects of sin and the brokenness of creation. Work, which was originally intended to be a source of fulfillment and purpose, has now become marred by hardship, exhaustion, and futility.

The Fall also fractures the intimate relationship between humanity and creation, introducing discord and enmity into the natural order. No longer do Adam and Eve enjoy unhindered communion with the animals and plants of the Garden; instead, they must contend with the hostility of the natural world as they labor to cultivate the land and provide for their needs. 

Under the  curse, there’s no rest in our work. Therefore, we feel like we need a vacation. 

At the core, the Fall alienates people from God, as the Lord expels Adam and Eve from the Garden, cut off from the Tree of Life (Genesis 3:22-24). 

From the Fall, we have enmity with God, with one another, with the land, and life itself. Without an intervention, this is pretty hopeless. Thankfully, God came to rescue us from this.

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How Does Work in the New Covenant Return Us to the Design?

Men and women talking at work

God will have his way. Sooner or later, his purposes prevail. God didn’t give up on the idea of Eden. We messed it up, sure, but Eden didn’t originate with us, nor does it require us. However, God loves us, and through his Son, he’s bringing us back to his original intent. 

Jesus, the night before his death, sits at the Passover dinner and declares himself as the New Covenant. He’s the lamb, the bread, the wine. He’s the husband returning for his bride. 

As the New Testament unveils, the New Covenant offers a profound return to the original design of work envisioned by God, restoring the dignity, purpose, and significance of labor for Christians. Through the teachings of Jesus Christ and the apostles, believers are invited to embrace a holistic understanding of work that reflects God’s redemptive purposes and His plan for human flourishing.

Jesus flips it back with his exhortation to “seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you” (Matthew 6:33). This principle underscores the priority of aligning one’s life and work with God’s purposes and priorities, trusting him to provide for our needs as we pursue his kingdom agenda. Don’t worry about your provision, Jesus says. That’s what unbelievers do. That’s of the curse. He offers something new. By prioritizing the advancement of God’s kingdom through righteous living and faithful obedience, believers are assured of divine provision and blessing in every aspect of their lives, including their work.

As God told Adam and Eve to make more image-bearers (kids) and fill the earth, the Son gives the Great Commission, calling Jesus’ followers to go into all the world and make disciples of all nations (Matthew 28:19-20). This commission encompasses not only evangelism but also the holistic transformation of society through the proclamation of the gospel and the demonstration of God’s love and justice. God calls Christians to integrate faith and work, viewing vocations as opportunities to fulfill this commission. 

The New Testament also offers a profound vision of eternal rest and fulfillment through Christ, providing believers with hope and assurance during earthly labors. Hebrews 4:9-11 speaks of a Sabbath rest that remains for the people of God, emphasizing the continual spiritual rest and peace that believers find in Christ. This eternal rest transcends the temporal struggles and hardships of earthly work, offering a glimpse of the ultimate fulfillment and satisfaction that awaits believers in the age to come.

The apostle Paul articulates a holistic theology of work. In Colossians 3:23-24, Paul writes, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” This perspective elevates the mundane tasks of daily labor to a sacred calling, as believers offer their work as an act of worship and service to God.

Additionally, the New Testament emphasizes the importance of spiritual gifts and vocational calling within the body of Christ, recognizing the diversity of talents and abilities among believers. Romans 12:4-8 and 1 Corinthians 12:4-11 speak of the various gifts and ministries within the church, highlighting the importance of each member contributing their unique gifts and talents to the work of the kingdom. 

When seeking first the Kingdom, resting in God’s peace, and operating in supernatural giftings, everything matters. God promises all will be rewarded and restored.

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Will We Have Work in Heaven?

woman raising blue scarf against blue sky praising God in nature

While Scripture does not provide exhaustive details on the nature of work in the age to come, it offers glimpses and insights that shed light on this intriguing question. As stated before, God’s purposes prevail. But he’s doing more than returning us to Eden, although the principles are there. He will remake our bodies and the whole of Creation into something new and wonderful. And it won’t be boring. 

First, we will rule and reign with Christ in his kingdom. In Revelation 5:10, John the Apostle envisions a future reality where redeemed individuals from every tribe and language and people and nation will reign on the earth with Christ. This imagery suggests a role of authority and responsibility for believers in the administration and governance of God’s kingdom, implying some form of active participation in the work of ruling and stewarding the new creation.

Second, we’ll rule over angels in the next age. In 1 Corinthians 6:3, Paul addresses settling disputes among themselves and asks, “Do you not know that we will judge angels?” This passage suggests that believers will exercise authority and judgment over angels in the age to come, indicating a role of leadership and responsibility within the heavenly hierarchy. 

Third, our reign with Christ begins with the millennial reign, a period of a thousand years described in Revelation 20:4-6. During this time, Christ will rule over the earth with us, and we will share in his authority and power on earth. While our specific tasks and responsibilities during the millennial reign are not explicitly stated in Scripture, it’s reasonable to assume that they will involve various forms of service, leadership, and stewardship in the earthly realm.

After the millennial reign, Revelation 21:1-5 describes a vision of a new heaven and earth, where God will dwell among his people, and there will be no more death, mourning, crying, or pain. While the details of what we’ll be doing in the new heaven and earth aren’t disclosed, if God’s continually active nature is any indication, we’ll be working in unity with the Trinity in creative and amazing endeavors. 

We are transformed by the renewing of our mind. We first think differently about work, for in Christ, nothing is wasted. Our work and peace coexist in our relationship with the Father, walking with the Spirit, both redeeming all we do now and giving us hope for eternity, where our co-working with God won’t be drudgery, but an absolute joy. 


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Britt MooneyBritt Mooney lives and tells great stories. As an author of fiction and non -iction, he is passionate about teaching ministries and nonprofits the power of storytelling to inspire and spread truth. Mooney has a podcast called Kingdom Over Coffee and is a published author of We Were Reborn for This: The Jesus Model for Living Heaven on Earth as well as Say Yes: How God-Sized Dreams Take Flight.