The Task at Hand: God Commends Work.

With this firm emphasis on the dignity of labor, it is no shock that Scripture strongly condemns idleness. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise” (Proverbs 6:6).

The Apostle Paul is equally direct: “If anyone will not work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). He set a good example (Acts 20:33–35; 1 Thessalonians 2:9). Those who refused to work, he insisted, even for spiritual reasons, earn no respect from non-Christians by depending on others to pay their bills (1 Thessalonians 4:11–12). Wage earners, on the other hand, have the material resources because of their labor (Ephesians 4:28).

In biblical times, manual labor was considered inferior to work involving mental activity. That mentality still exists today by some individuals. There is no indication in the Bible that some jobs are more worthwhile than others in God’s sight. The Lord called craftsmen into his service (Exodus 31:1–11), just as much as prophets (Isaiah 6:1–9). Amos was summoned from his fruit-picking to prophesy (Amos 7:14–15), yet there is no suggestion that God was promoting Amos to a superior role. As one commentator notes, “The important thing was not the nature of the occupation but the readiness to obey God’s call and to witness faithfully for Him, whatever the job.

The Scriptures also have some poignant things to say about the relationship between the employer and their employees. The prophets voiced the strongest criticism and unjust employers. God is concerned to see that the weak get justice (Isaiah 1:17; Micah 6:8). So, naturally, his spokesmen declare the Lord’s anger when employers exploit their laborers and cheat them of their wages (Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5; cf. James 5:1-4). A person who wants to please God must “stop oppressing those who work for [him] and treat them fairly and give them what they earn” (Isaiah 58:6).

The Tyndale Bible Dictionary explains that, “God is a working God who is pleased when his people work hard and conscientiously. That conviction lies at the heart of the Bible’s teaching about Christian attitudes toward secular employment. And quite naturally, the NT extends the same positive emphasis to cover all Christian service, paid or unpaid. The world is God’s harvest field, said Jesus, waiting for Christian reapers to move in and evangelize (Matthew 9:37–38). Paul used the same agricultural illustration and added another from the building trade to describe the Lord’s work of evangelism and teaching (1 Corinthians 3:6–15). Church leaders must work especially hard, he said (1 Thessalonians 5:12), to stimulate all God’s people to be involved in the Lord’s work (1 Corinthians 15:58). All Christians should see themselves as “God’s coworkers” (I Corinthians 3:9).”

Have a blessed day in the Lord.

Soli deo Gloria!

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