Biblical Principles of "Work"
God instituted 'work' in the second chapter of Genesis, the Book of Beginnings. God gave the principle of work to man for his blessing. God gave the work ethic before the fall of man. After the fall, fatigue and pain were associated with work, but it was established before the fall as a blessing.
Work is the law of man's being. Work is divinely inspired. If we don't work, we will suffer atrophy in body, mind and spirit. Work is therapeutic - physically, emotionally and mentally. In fact, God was the very first employer.
Genesis 2:5-15, "And the Lord God planted a garden eastward in Eden.and the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it."
'Keep' (shamar) means to 'to hedge about, i.e., to guard, to protect, and to watch.'
'Dress' (avad) in Hebrew means 'to work, serve, labour, toil, till.'
This same Hebrew word 'avad' is translated by a number of different words:
Genesis 5:5, "there was not a man to till the ground."
Isaiah 19:9, "they that work in fine flax."
Ezekiel 48:18, "them that serve the city." (Genesis 29:15; 30:26,29; Exodus
1:13,14; 3:12; 7:16; Jeremiah 22:13)
HOW SHOULD WE WORK?
How does God want us to work? What attitude should we have? The Bible is not silent about this subject but gives us a full understanding of the attitude we should have to the work ethic. Let's look at them together.
Judges 5:2, "The people willingly offered themselves."
1 Chronicles 28:9, "Know thou the God of thy father, and serve Him with a
perfect heart and with a willing mind."
1 Chronicles 28:21, "Every willing skillful man."
Psalm 110: "Thy people shall be willing in the day of thy power."
Proverbs 31:13, "She seeketh wool, and flax, and worketh willingly with her
Isaiah 1:19, "If ye be willing and obedient ye shall eat the good of the
Read 1 Thessalonians 2:7-9.
The word 'work' in Proverbs 31:13 is 'asah'. It means 'to make, do, create, construct, accomplish, work, labor.' It is the same word that is used of God's creative activity - Genesis 1:26; 31; Psalm 86:9; 95:5; 96:5. Work is creative and therefore enjoyable. Work is constructive and therefore fulfilling. Work is productive and therefore satisfying. The more we work with joy and a willing heart, the more we will be filled with creative ideas.
Jeremiah 48:10 RSV, "Cursed is he who does the work of God with slackness."
Proverbs 12:27 TJB, "Diligence is a man's most precious possession."
Romans 12:11 J.B. Phillips, "Let us not allow slackness to spoil our work."
Romans 12:11 GNB, "Work hard and do not be lazy."
Ecclesiastes 9:10, "Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might."
2 Chronicles 31:21, "Hezekiah.In every work that he began.. He did it with all his heart, and prospered."
Nehemiah 4:6, "The people had a mind ('lev' - heart and soul) to work."
Ephesians 6:6, "Doing the will of God from the heart."
Colossians 3:23. "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily."
Romans 12:11. "Not slothful in business, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord."
TLB, "Never be lazy in your work but serve the Lord enthusiastically."
Deuteronomy 28:47, "All these curses shall come upon thee.... because thou servest not the Lord thy God with joyfulness and gladness of heart."
Colossians 3:17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him."
Hebrews 6:10, "For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labor of love, which ye have showed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister."
1 Thessalonians 1:3, "your.labor of love.in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father." J.B. Phillips' translates it, "Your love has meant hard work."
Galatians 5:13, "By love serve one another."
1 John 3:16-18, "My little children, let us not love in word, neither in
tongue, but in deed and in truth." The Greek word for 'deed' is 'ergon'
which means 'to make, to work, to do.'
Love is not an airy-fairy feeling. Love is an action verb that takes work! We prove our love by hard work. But it works both ways. When we work with a
heart full of love for God and for people, it takes the drudgery out of the work. Work is love in reality!
2 Chronicles 34:12, "The men did the work faithfully."
Matthew 25:21,23; Luke 16.10; "He that is faithful in that which is least, is faithful also in much."
Hebrews 3:5. "Moses was faithful in all his house as a servant."
Ephesians 6:7 AMP, "Rendering service readily with goodwill."
Let's look at some examples:
Matthew 20:26-28 "The Son of Man did not come to be served but to serve, and
to give His life.."Luke 22:27, "I am among you as He that serveth."John 13:1-17, "Jesus riseth from supper, and laid aside his garments, and took a towel and girded himself. After that he poureth water into a basin, and began to wash the disciples' feet, and to wipe them with the towel.So after he had washed their feet, he said unto them.. The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him. If ye know these things, happy are ye if ye do them."
1 Corinthians 9:19, "I made myself servant unto all."1 Peter 5:5 Williams, "You must all put on the servant's apron of humility
to one another."1 Timothy 5:10 GNB "She must have a reputation for good deeds: a woman who
brought up her children well, received strangers in her home, performed
humble duties for fellow Christians, helped people in trouble, and devoted
herself to doing good."
1 Corinthians 15:58. "Therefore my beloved brethren, be ye steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labor is not in vain in the Lord."
What does it mean to abound? Greek word is 'perisseuo' which means 'to superabound, excel, more abundant, enough and to spare, over and above, sense of beyond, beyond what is necessary.' This is the kind of attitude we should have toward work. We should not do just the bare necessity, but more than is necessary - over and above! We are to have an abounding attitude.
13. AS UNTO THE LORD.
Colossians 3:23, "Whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as unto the Lord, and not unto men, knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance, for ye serve the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23 J.B. Phillips, "You are actually employed by Christ."
Ephesians 6:5-7 "As unto the Lord, and not to men."
What a liberating attitude this is. We don't have to get despondent when we are not appreciated. We are not working for man. We are working for God. He is our Employer.
14. IN THE NAME OF THE LORD JESUS.
Colossians 3:17, "And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus."
Whatever you are doing, do it in the name of the Lord Jesus. Sing praises to His name. Honor His name. Give glory to His name. When you do a good deed for someone, tell him or her you are doing it "in the name of the Lord Jesus."
15. WITHOUT GRUMBLING AND COMPLAINING.
Philippians 2:14,15. "Do all things without murmurings and disputings: That ye may be blameless and harmless, the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the
16. WITHOUT BEING SIDETRACKED.
Nehemiah 6:3. Nehemiah had purpose and vision. Nehemiah had a great work to do. However, he had many enemies who tried to stop him in his work, but Nehemiah would not be stopped! On one occasion when they tried to stop him in his work, he replied, "I am doing a great work, so that I cannot come down: why should the work cease, whilst I leave it and come down to you?"
17. WITHOUT WEARYING.
Galatians 6:9,10. "And let us not be weary in well doing, for in due season, we shall reap if we faint not."
2 Thessalonians 3:13, "Be not weary in well doing."
18. WITHOUT EXPECTING ANYTHING IN RETURN.
Luke 7:7-10 RSV. "When you have done all that is commanded you say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty."
19. WITHOUT SEEKING RECOGNITION.
Ephesians 6:6. "Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers, but as the servants of Christ."
We do our work, not looking to the eyes of man, but the eyes of the Lord.
20. UNTIL THE JOB IS FINISHED.
Let's look at some examples:
Zechariah 4:9. "The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this house; his hands shall also finish it."
John 4:34, "Jesus saith unto them, my meat is to do the will of Him that sent me, and to finish His work."John 17:4, "I have finished the work which thou gavest me to do."
Acts 20:28, "None of these things move me, neither count I my life dear unto myself, so that I might finish my course with joy."
2 Timothy 4:7. "I have finished my course."
21. WITH REVERENCE.
Hebrews 12:28b "Serve God acceptably, with reverence and godly fear".
Psalm 2:11, "Serve the Lord with fear, and rejoice with trembling."
22. FOR THE GLORY OF GOD.
1 Corinthians 10:31, "Whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."
I believe this is the greatest reason of all. The reason we do everything in life is for the glory of God. The reason we work is for the glory of God.
When this motive not only becomes part of our brain, but part of our physical lives, our lives will be transformed. No matter how menial or how boring the work, it will become a joy and a delight when we do it for the GLORY OF GOD.
23. RELYING ON GOD.
John 15:4,5. Jesus said, "Without me ye can do nothing."
Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me."
24. ABLE TO WORK WITH OTHERS.
It is most important to learn to work with others. Many people have missed out on many blessings because they have not learned how to work with others.
1 Corinthians 3:9, "we are laborers together with God."
2 Corinthians 6:1, "workers together with Him."
Let's look at some folks who knew how to work alongside others. These were some of Paul's co-workers.
TIMOTHY - "our fellow laborer in the gospel of Christ" 1 Thessalonians 3:2; "my work fellow" Romans 16:21.
EPAPHRODITUS - "companion in labor and fellow soldier." Philippians 2:25
TYCHICUS - "a faithful minister and fellow servant in the Lord." Colossians 4:7
PHILEMON - "dearly beloved and fellow laborer." Philemon v.1.
ARCHIPPUS - "our fellow soldier." Philemon v.2.
EPAPHRAS - "my fellow prisoner in Christ Jesus." Philemon v. 23 "our dear fellow servant." Colossians 1:17.
MARCUS, ARISTARCHUS, DEMAS, LUCAS - "my fellow laborers." Philemon v.24
ARISTARCHUS, MARCUS and JUSTUS - "These only are my fellow workers for the extension of God's kingdom." Colossians 4:11 AMP
TITUS - "my partner and fellow helper." 2 Corinthians 8:22. "True yoke fellow." - Philippians 4:3
CLEMENT "and the rest of my fellow workers whose names are in the Book of Life." Philippians 4:3 AMP
PRISCILLA AND AQUILA - "my fellow workers in Christ Jesus, who risked their own necks to save my life." Romans 16:3-5
ANDRONICUS AND JUNIA - "my kinsmen, and my fellow prisoners." Romans 16:7
Read the example in 2 Chronicles 2:14.
IN WHAT AREAS DOES GOD WANT US TO WORK?
The Word of God tells us that we are to work hard and put our whole heart and soul into everything we do - "whatsoever thy hand finds to do." However, there are some specific areas that are mentioned in the Bible so we will look at each one.
1. OUR CHRISTIAN WALK.
Philippians 2:12, "Work out your own salvation with fear and trembling."
Through the atoning death of Jesus on the cross and His shed blood, He has wrought salvation for us, but we must cooperate with the Holy Spirit for
this salvation to be worked out from within us to our very extremities and into our daily life. Colossians 1:29; 2 Peter 1:5-12; 3:14.
2. IN THE HOME AS MOTHERS.
When we look at the picture of the virtuous woman in Proverbs 31, we see that much of her virtue is working hard and being physically strong. I think
you will be amazed to notice that nearly every Scripture is related to hard work! Let's have a look:
v. 13 "She seeks wool and flax, and works willingly with her hands." Hard work!
v.14 "She is like the merchants' ships; she brings her food from afar." And she didn't have a car. She most probably had to walk, and in the burning hot sun too.
v.15 "She rises also while it is yet night, and gives food to her household, and a portion to her maidens." Her household would have been filled with many people - a large family, servants and extended family. Managing meals was a big task.
v.16 "She considers a field and buys it." She most probably had to do a lot of walking to check out fields before she purchased too.
v.16 "With the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard." More hard work!
v.17 "She girds her loins with strength, and strengtheneth her arms." It doesn't sound as though there is a lazy bone in her body!
v.18 "Her candle goes not out by night." Help! When does she sleep?
v.19 "She lays her hands to the spindle, and her hands hold the distaff." Busy fingers!
v.20 "She stretches out her hand to the poor; yea, she reaches forth her hands to the needy." She is not only busy in her own home, making sure that there is enough food planted, harvested and stored for her whole family, but she also takes time to minister to others outside her home too.
v.21 "She is not afraid of the snow for her household: for all her household are clothed with scarlet. She makes herself coverings of tapestry." Did she have an electric sewing machine? No, even her fingers worked hard sewing.
v.22 "She makes fine linen, and sells it; and delivers girdles unto the merchant." Besides clothing her own family, she also sews extra garments to sell to bring in finance for her family.v.27 "She looks well to the ways of her household, and eats not the bread of idleness." Hard work is her lifestyle.
We see another picture of a hard-working woman in 1 Timothy 5:10. She not only cared for her own children but continually ministered to the needs of
others. "One who has a reputation for good works and has reared children, has practiced hospitality, has washed the feet of the saints, has relieved the afflicted, and has been devoted to all kinds of good works."
A third well-known passage to women is Titus 2:3-5 where the older women are exhorted to teach the young women. One of the things they are to teach the young women is to be "workers at home." The word in the Greek is 'oikourogo'which comes from two words:
'oikos' - home
'ergon' - to work
Therefore it means to 'work at home'. We are not to be idle, but to work in our homes.
3. IN THE HOME AS FATHERS.
1 Timothy 5:8, "If any provide not for his own and especially for those ofhis own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel."
Ecclesiastes 10:18 MLB, "Through continual neglect the ceiling sinks, and because of slack hands the house leaks."
(a) THE PROVIDER OF THE HOME SHOULD WORK HARD TO PROVIDE ADEQUATELY FOR HIS FAMILY.
Romans 12:11, "Not slothful in business."
1 Thessalonians 4:11 GNB, "Make it your aim to live a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to earn your own living. In this way you will win the respect of those who are not believers, and you will not have to depend on anyone for what you need."
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12, "While we were with you, we used to tell you, "Whoever refuses to work is not allowed to eat. We say this because we hear that there are some people among you who live lazy lives and who do nothing except meddle in other people's business. In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ we command these people and warn them to lead orderly lives and to work to earn their own living."
(b) EMPLOYMENT IS NOT ONLY FOR OUR OWN PROVISION BUT TO BE ABLE TO GIVE TO OTHERS.
Ephesians 4:28, "Let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."
(c) EMPLOYEES SHOULD WORK SO DILIGENTLY THAT THEIR EMPLOYER PROSPERS BECAUSE OF THEM. Here are two examples:
JACOB. Genesis 30:27-30, "And Laban said unto him.. I have learned by experience that the Lord hath blessed me for thy sake."
JOSEPH. Genesis 39:1-6, "From the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he had, that the Lord blessed the Egyptian's house for Joseph's sake."
Titus 2:9 Beck, "Obey your masters in everything, please them, and don't talk back. Don't steal but show you can be trusted in every way so that in everything you show the beauty of the teaching of God, who saves us."
5. STUDYING THE WORD OF GOD.
2 Timothy 2:15, "Study to show thyself approved unto God, a workman thatneedeth not to be ashamed, rightly dividing the word of truth."
1 Timothy 5:17, "Especially those who labor in the word and doctrine."
Colossians 4:12, "Always laboring fervently for you in prayers."
7. THE WORK OF THE LORD.
To be involved in God's work actually means 'work'.
Matthew 9:37, 38, "Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest."
Acts 13:2, "the Holy Ghost said, Separate me Barnabas and Saul for the work whereunto I have called them." Acts 14:26
Ephesians 4:12, "the work of the ministry."
1 Timothy 3:1, "If a man desire the office of a bishop, he desireth a good work."
2 Timothy 4:5, "do the work of an evangelist." 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13.
Let's look at Paul's example in working for the Lord.
1 Corinthians 4:11-13 TMB "We toil to exhaustion with our own hands."
1 Corinthians 15:10, "I labored more abundantly." TMB says, "I worked harder than any of them."
2 Corinthians 6:3-10, "As servants of God we commend ourselves in every way.in hard work."
2 Corinthians 11:23-30, "in labors more abundant."
1 Thessalonians 2:7-9, "For ye remember, brethren, our labor and travail; for laboring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you." (2 Corinthians 5:9; Galatians 4:11; 1 Thessalonians 3:5)
Here's a few others too, who I haven't previously mentioned.
PHOEBE - "she has been a helper of many including myself." Romans 16:1,2
MARY - "who bestowed much labor on us." Romans 16:6
URBANE - "our helper in Christ." Romans 16:9
TRYPHENA AND TRYPHOSA - "who labor in the lord." Romans 16:12
PERSIS - "Who labored much in the Lord." Romans 16:12
TIMOTHY - "He is devotedly doing the Lord's work, just as I am." 1 Cor 16:10 AMP
EPAPHRAS - "He has labored hard on your behalf." Colossians 4:12
STEPHANAS FAMILY - "they have addicted themselves to the ministry of the saints.that ye submit yourselves unto such, and to every one that helpeth with us, and laboreth."
DORCAS - "this woman was full of good works and almsdeeds which she did." Acts 9:36-43.
8. GOOD WORKS.
Look up the following scriptures that tell us that God wants us to be doing good works.
Matthew 5:16; 26:10 (Mark 14:6); Matthew 25:14-46; Mark 13:34-37; John
10:32; Romans 2:6; 1 Corinthians 3:13-15; 1 Timothy 2:10; 2 Timothy 3:17;
Titus 2:12-14; 3:1; Titus 3:8; 3:14; Hebrews 10:24; 13:21; 1 Peter 2:12.
THE REWARDS OF DILIGENCE
Look up these scriptures:
2 Chronicles 15:7; Jeremiah 31:16; Psalm 126:5,6; Proverbs 6:6; 10:5a;
10:4b; 12:11a (28:19a; 20:13); 12:24a; 13:4b; 13:11b; 22:29; Ecclesiastes
5:12; 1 Corinthians 3:8; 15:58; 1 Thessalonians 5:12,13 (1 Corinthians
16:15,16; 1 Timothy 5:17)
THE CONSEQUENCES OF LAZINESS
Proverbs 10:4a (24:30-34); 10:5b; 10:26; 12:24b; 13:4a; 15:19; 18:9; 19:15;
21:25; 22:3; 23:21b; Ecclesiastes 10:18.
Prepared by Nancy Campbell, Above Rubies, PO Box 681687, Franklin, TN 37068
Phone: (931) 729 9861
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