With the end of summer and the return of the children to school there is the inevitable adjustment to the new fall schedule. In our counseling practice Elsie and I have summer hours and rest-of-the-year hours. My guess is your work schedule has probably changed too. As I’ve thought about work here are some Biblical principles on the subject:
- Work meets our basic needs. “The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Work and eating are connected. A growling stomach is a powerful motivator to work (Proverbs 16:26)! We do a grave disservice to able-bodied people if we provide for basic needs without requiring them to work. In the Old Testament, God’s program for the poor involved forbidding farmers from harvesting the corners of grain fields or retrieving harvest that fell to the ground. The corners and dropped fruit were for the poor who followed the workers and worked to meet their basic needs.
- Work is worship. Corporate worship occurs on Sundays but private worship happens all week long. Work is part of our private worship. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters” (Colossians 3:23). We are to do our work with all our heart, soul, mind, and strength because it is our offering of worship to Him.
- Work enables us to bless others. The income we receive from working is for more than our own needs. We are to be generous and meet the needs of the poor. “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). How will the needs of the poor be supplied? By helping the able-bodied find work and being generous to those who are unable to work (Acts 20:35).
- Work reflects God. God worked for six days during creation and continues to work today. “By the seventh day God had finished the work He had been doing; so on the seventh day He rested from all His work” (Genesis 2:2, John 5:17).
- We were created to work. When Adam was created by God he worked in the Garden of Eden tending, harvesting, and maintaining it. “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it” (Genesis 2:15). Since we are made in His image it stands to reason that work would be part of our DNA.
- Work must have boundaries. Work cannot be permitted to dominate our lives, become an addiction, or become our identity. We are more than our work and our lives are bigger than our work (Acts 18:3). Work must be prioritized. “Put your outdoor work in order and get your fields ready; after that, build your house” (Proverbs 24:27).
So, hi ho, hi ho, it’s off to work I go,