A worker is one who performs a work. Work, in turn, is the set of actions taken by someone, something or a phenomenon (natural, social, psychological) with a view to a certain outcome.
Transposing this word into the spiritual realm, we understand that a "worker" is anyone who performs the work of God here on earth. All who receive Jesus Christ as Lord of their lives submit to be His servants. Servants obey the desire of their Lord, acting to carry out the work that is apportioned to them, so all are "workers".
At the end of the "Sermon on the Mount of Olives", two days before His crucifixion, Jesus told a parable that, though told in the context of the final days before His second coming and the selection of who will participate in His millennial kingdom, well illustrates the Christian worker. It is the "Parable of the Talents" found in Matthew 25:14 to 28, where a man, travelling to a far country, distributed money to three of his servants in different amounts proportionate to their individual ability, in order to trade and produce profits for him.
The Lord Jesus is currently absent, and also distributes responsibilities corresponding to the ability of each one of His workers. It is common to confuse the "talents" distributed in the parable (name of the the currency used in the parable), with the natural or acquired abilities (physical and mental) we are used to calling "talents." These qualities constitute the "ability" and is in accordance with this ability that responsibilities, or the talents in the parable, are distributed.
When the lord of those servants returned from his journey he settled accounts with them, and found that the two who had been given more responsibility had worked well and achieved good results in proportion to the responsibility vested in them. They effectively demonstrated to be faithful "servants" because they did what their lord had commanded them, and succeeded.
One day the workers of the Lord Jesus will give account to Him for the way they performed the tasks entrusted to their responsibility. Will they be seen to have applied to their work diligently, taking advantage of the opportunities offered to them with love and dedication and so being able to present something positive? The more they have been involved in the Lord's work, the more responsibilities will have been entrusted to them: "For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance" (Mat.25:29). Those who thus worked will be honoured with the Lord's approval, and rewarded with His appointment to something more important: "His lord said to him, 'Well done, good and faithful servant; you have been faithful over a few things, I will make you ruler over many things. Enter into the joy of your lord.' " (Matthew 25:23).
In the parable there is a serious warning to false workers, who are like the third servant in the parable who has done nothing but bury what was given to him. He proved that in fact he did not love his lord because he did nothing for his benefit and even insulted him when he came for the reckoning. If at least he had given the money to the bankers to earn interest, he would have been approved.
The wicked and slothful servant in the parable symbolizes those that only profess themselves as Christ's, but were never really converted, do not really love him and want to do nothing for Him, even resent against Him. They will be severely reprimanded by the Lord as unprofitable servants and condemned to hell.
If a worker really loves the Lord and finds himself unable to take on some responsibility, at least he has the opportunity to give his support to those who do work. This support can take various forms of material and spiritual order, such as financial assistance, encouragement, assistance in teaching, evangelism, or others.
The Lord's work sometimes seems disappointing. The worker gets weary and sees little result from his labour, sometimes none at all. How he wishes to see souls come to hear the Gospel, and receiving with joy the good news of salvation! But there is little interest, the enemy seems to prevail, and the temptation to give up is great. But the Lord promises, in the words of Paul: "beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 15:58). Our work for the Lord, whatever it is, will never be in vain if it is done according to His will. The result will be positive, even when we can not see it before us.
God never forgets our work and the love we show to His name, in whatever we do for Him, and for the welfare of other workers, or saints: "God is not unjust to forget your work and labour of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister" (Hebrews 6:10). Anything whatever we do for the good of Christ's work, such as financial contributions, sacrifices of prayer, dedication of time for encouragement, comfort and instruction, hospitality, and more - everything will be recorded in the infallible memory of God. All is service provided to reveal our love and dedication to the name of God and His Beloved Son, and is never useless.
There will be a reward for each worker in proportion to his own work: "neither he who plants is anything, nor he who waters, but God who gives the increase. Now he who plants and he who waters are one, and each one will receive his own reward according to his own labour. " (1 Corinthians 3:7-8). To plant and to water are different functions in a garden, and here Paul says that neither he, who preached the Gospel, nor Apollos who taught the new converts, are important in themselves, for it is God that gives the increase. The two are a unity, for without planting nothing springs up, and nothing survives without water. Each worker is doing his part and gets the reward according to what his work deserves. This applies to all work in the work of Christ, where there are many workers, each doing his part.
Nowhere do we find the teaching that a worker shall receive a reward depending on the work of others, for example, a brother who prays, and contributes financially to the work of another brother directly involved in missionary work is not responsible nor will he receive a reward according to what the other's work deserves. Each one is a worker, a servant of the Lord, and his reward has to do exclusively with his own service, as we saw above.
Certain workers, with the desire to devote their full time to the work of God, give up secular work and remuneration. Their sustenance should come first from those who are benefited by their ministry (1 Corinthians 9:14). But many do not use this right, following the example of Paul in order to present the gospel free of charge, and decide to depend entirely on God's provision. Sometimes, like Paul, they find gainful employment in their field of work, sometimes they rely on the contribution of those of God's people who have the resources available and thus are driven to cooperate with their brothers "in the forefront," which is a privilege of a Christian (2 Corinthians 8:7).
In short, they are all partakers of God's work, all their resources for the work come from Christ, and it is God who gives the growth. Each will be judged by how he employed his ability to do the work for which he has been given responsibiility. If he has collaborated with other workers, this will be accounted for on the basis of the value of his contribution only, and no consideration will be given to the part for which others were responsible. .