A Culture of Work

I once heard a guy say, “I love work. I could sit and watch it for hours.”

That statement above always strikes me as humorous because it illustrates two important truths: 1) we know work is necessary, and 2) it is tempting to think that it is “someone else’s job.” In this fallen world in which we live, work makes us tired and can be stressful, but we know that work is necessary to earn money and provide for our needs and the needs of our family.

What does the Bible say about work and productivity?

Work has purpose. Our God is a God who works. His work in creation is amazing. When we at the beach or in the mountains enjoying a beautiful sunset or star-filled sky, His creative work is overwhelming. God also works in the hearts and lives of people, bringing them to faith in Christ. God works in people’s lives bringing healing, hope and guidance for living. God is actively at work in our world today.

Our work has purpose. We are created in God’s image. We have intelligence, talents and creativity given to us by God. We are to use them to the very best of our ability. Our work is intended to glorify God and our work should show our love for people as well. This will dictate the type of work we choose to do and the way in which we do it. As we teach people, build bridges, care for children or whatever we do, our work has purpose to improve the lives of others and ultimately to glorify God.

Because work can be challenging and stressful, it is tempting to think that work is a result of the fall of Adam and Eve. Actually, God gave Adam and Eve work to do before the fall. Truly their work became more difficult after the fall, but it is important to realize that people worked in the Garden of Eden before the fall. There is purpose in our work.

Genesis 1:26-28 
26  Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness. They will rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, the livestock, all the earth, and the creatures that crawl on the earth.” 27  So God created man in His own image; He created him in the image of God; He created them male and female. 28  God blessed them, and God said to them, “Be fruitful, multiply, fill the earth, and subdue it. Rule the fish of the sea, the birds of the sky, and every creature that crawls on the earth.”

Genesis 2:15
15  The LORD God took the man and placed him in the garden of Eden to work it and watch over it.

Colossians 3:23-24
23  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24  knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.

We are to work with diligence. We should avoid two extremes. On one extreme, there are those who refuse to work. These are people who are mentally and physically able to work but refuse to do so. This is not how God designed us. The Bible addresses those who refuse to work.

2 Thessalonians 3:10 
10  In fact, when we were with you, this is what we commanded you: “If anyone isn’t willing to work, he should not eat.”

Notice that the Bible does not say those who cannot work, nor does it speak to those who cannot find a job, but rather it speaks to those who are unwilling to work. Those are the people that should not expect someone else to provide food for them.

On the other extreme, there are those who are workaholics. They work so much that they neglect their family, their health, their relationship with God, their church or a host of other important things. This is not how God designed us either.

Instead of these two extremes, diligence in work calls us to use our gifts and abilities to be productive, providing for the needs of ourself and those who are dependent on us. Diligence means showing up for work, on time, every day you are scheduled to work. When we work with diligence, we put in an honest day’s work to receive an honest day’s pay.

Proverbs 12:11
11  The one who works his land will have plenty of food, but whoever chases fantasies lacks sense.

We must maintain balance. One aspect of balance comes in our attitude and in our gratitude. A person with proper balance and perspective will realize that God is the one who gives us the mind, abilities and strength to do the work we are doing. God is the one who brings all blessings, even material blessings. He gives them to us and we can enjoy them. God is the one who will show us how to use those blessings to be a blessing to others.

1 Timothy 6:17 
17  Instruct those who are rich in the present age not to be arrogant or to set their hope on the uncertainty of wealth, but on God, who richly provides us with all things to enjoy.

We must also maintain balance in our work schedule. God created the heavens and the earth in six days then He rested on the seventh. He was not tired from His work because God does not get tired. He rested to set an example to us of the rhythm and importance of rest.

One day each week we should rest from our work and focus that day on worshiping God. This is why churches gather weekly to worship the Lord. Whether your church meets on Saturday, Sunday, or any other day during the week, set aside that time to rest from your work and focus your attention on worshiping the Lord. You will be amazed that you can be more productive in six days of work than you will ever be in seven.

Exodus 20:8-11 
8  Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy: 9  You are to labor six days and do all your work, 10  but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the LORD your God. You must not do any work—you, your son or daughter, your male or female slave, your livestock, or the foreigner who is within your gates. 11  For the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and everything in them in six days; then He rested on the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and declared it holy.

Work can be a witness for the Lord. One of the ways that work can be a witness is if there has been a dramatic change in our life. Imagine if a bank robber comes to faith in Christ. That person will steal no longer.

Ephesians 4:28
28  The thief must no longer steal. Instead, he must do honest work with his own hands, so that he has something to share with anyone in need.

I once heard of a man who had been radically saved. The man had repented of his sin and experienced forgiveness through Christ. Immediately the man knew that he needed to leave his lifestyle of selling drugs. Even though that job was lucrative, it was not honoring to the Lord and it led to destroyed lives. As he stepped out of that lifestyle, a mature believer in Jesus helped him to land a job as a salesman at an automobile dealership. He is now using his abilities as a salesman in a healthy and productive way.

Another way that our work can be a witness is by the effort and attitude that we give in our work. Folks should notice that Christians do their best, with a great attitude, always seeking to encourage and help others. When we do that, God will even open up opportunities for us to tell of the good news of Jesus to people!

Colossians 3:23-24
23  Whatever you do, do it enthusiastically, as something done for the Lord and not for men, 24  knowing that you will receive the reward of an inheritance from the Lord. You serve the Lord Christ.


Editor’s Note: This is post #4 of 7 in the series We God’s People are the Conscience of the Culture. Click the links below to view the other posts. 


wp-1477425043743.jpgRecommended Resource: The Gospel at Work: How Working for King Jesus Brings Purpose and Meaning to our Jobs by Traeger and Gilbert. 


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