Genesis 2:2 'By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on
the seventh day he rested from all his work.'
Why you should work
1. Because God is a worker, and he made you in his image
The above verse tells us that God himself is a worker—and he's working still (John
5:17). Human beings, made in God's image, are designed to be workers, too. Even before
the Fall they were given work-responsibility by which they could glorify God:
Genesis 2:15 'The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work
it and take care of it.'
Certainly after the Fall work became tougher going (Genesis 3:19). But work can be
redeemed in Christ, and for you it can be a source of dignity, self-esteem and legitimate
pride. You can expect to get satisfaction from seeing the fruits of your labour:
Proverbs 12:27 'The lazy man does not roast his game, but the diligent man prizes
2. To earn money
Note that 'work' is not necessarily the same things as 'paid employment.' Work is,
by definition, sustained effort of a productive kind, and the young, the unemployed
and the retired can all do it.
It's a principle of life that we should earn our own bread by honest work. State
aid is a privilege, not a right. As a rule, you should aim to be gainfully employed.
In Paul's day, some had stopped work because they felt Christ's return was imminent.
He condemned their idleness and urged them to 'settle down and earn the bread they
eat' (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
3. To help appreciate leisure
Relaxation and leisure lose their appeal when they become permanent. You appreciate
them best as a contrast to hard work. Ecclesiastes 5:12 says, 'The sleep of a labourer
The fourth commandment prescribes one day's rest in seven, but the ordinance dates
from before the law of Moses (Genesis 2:2-3) and is God's plan for your welfare—physically,
mentally and emotionally. Don't become a workaholic and kill yourself.
Even in the age to come you'll have work to do. And the more diligent you prove to
be in your work now, the greater the reward of more work and responsibility in the
coming age! (See the parable of the minas in Luke 19:11-27.)
Some Important Reminders
1. All work is honourable
We tend to view 'clean' jobs (in the office, the classroom, the laboratory) as somehow
'better' than 'dirty' jobs (in the field, the workshop, the factory).
But Jesus invested with dignity even the most menial of tasks—eastern foot-washing—and
sanctified the skilled manual work of carpentry. He called as his disciples both
a rough-handed fisherman like Peter and a desk-worker like Matthew. All work is honourable
to the Christian.
2. Cautions for working wives
Scripture doesn't forbid a married woman to do paid work. The 'perfect wife' of Proverbs
31 is a working wife (v16-18, 24), but not at the expense of her prior loyalties
God. She 'fears the Lord' (v30).
Her husband. She wins his appreciation (v11-12, 28b).
Her children. She cares for them (v15, 21, 27-28a).
The community. She serves it (v20).
There are, however, dangers faced by the family where the wife works full time as
well as the husband, especially when there are young children. High tax is usually
payable. The wife may well look her best at work and her worst at home, which is
bad for the husband-wife relationship. A double-income lifestyle can become addictive.
Children, when they come, may be neglected.
What to avoid in your work
Since a strike's effects are invariably disruptive and harmful, this should be the
last resort for you as a Christian worker. Your calling as a believer is to be constructive.
Many of the New Testament's exhortations are not to employers and employees, who
have a voluntary relationship, but to masters and slaves. A slave had no rights at
all, least of all the right to withdraw his labour. If an opportunity to gain his
freedom came up, a slave was urged to take it (1 Corinthians 7:21). Otherwise, the
1 Peter 2:18 'Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only
to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.'
Biblical submission doesn't mean being a doormat. It includes the right to express
an opinion, question an attitude or voice a legitimate complaint. Hopefully, your
Christian attitude in a difficult work situation would normally prompt resolution
by means other than striking.
In today's selfish society you'll often find yourself the 'odd man out' at work.
Pressure will come on you to lower your standards. Such compromise is dishonouring
to God. With good humour and quiet firmness stick to your Christian values, even
if you're made to suffer for it (1 Peter 2:19-20).
'Look busy, the boss is coming!' is an attitude foreign to Christians, who are urged
to work for their masters 'not only when their eye is on you and to win their favour,
but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord' (Colossians 3:22). And if
you work for a Christian boss, don't be tempted to exploit this situation for your
own advantage. On the contrary, serve him or her 'even better' (1 Timothy 6:2).
The theft of an employer's goods (tools, materials, stationery, etc) is clearly 'out'
for the Christian worker (Titus 2:9-10). But stealing can take other forms. By neglecting
punctuality you can steal your employer's time. By destructive criticism (often disguised
as jesting) you can steal his reputation. The true Christian is no thief—in any of
Who are you working for?
Would your work attitudes change drastically if Jesus were your boss? If so, listen
Colossians 3:23-24 'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for
the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the
Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.'
It's Jesus you're really working for. Do your job accordingly. The above verse also
urges you to work 'with all your heart'. Tackle your job with enthusiasm. If it's
boring, devise ways of building a challenge into it.
Results of a right work-attitude
1. The gospel is commended
Christians are to serve their employers 'so that God's name and our teaching may
not be slandered' (1 Timothy 6:1). By the very way they do their work, 'in every
way they will make the teaching about God our Saviour attractive' (Titus 2:10).
Don't make the mistake of regarding witnessing in company time as more important
than work. It's unlikely to result in the salvation of your fellow-workers—especially
Some fellow-workers may despise you if you work hard. That's part of the price of
being a Christian. But if you keep good humour and friendliness to the forefront
and avoid a 'holier than thou' attitude, God's blessing upon you will close their
1 Peter 2:15 'It is God's will that by doing good you should silence the ignorant
talk of foolish men.'
2. Prosperity—now and hereafter
If you live according to the law of the Lord you'll know God's blessing (Psalm 1:3).
The necessities of life—food, clothing, etc.—will be yours, plus more, as you bring
God into your work life and see it as being under his kingdom-rule:
Matthew 6:31-33 'Do not worry, saying, "What shall we eat?" or "What shall we drink?"
or "What shall we wear?" For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly
Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness,
and all these things will be given to you as well.'
You'll also be able to look forward to a reward at Jesus' return (Colossians 3:23-24).
How to become a loyal employee
Loyalty is a fruit of the Spirit that you can demonstrate in your work. How?
a. Kill off your independent attitude
This wrong kind of independence can be seen in:
Competing for the boss's recognition, and being jealous when others are promoted.
Complaining about the changes in your job that he puts forward; inflexibility.
Regarding the whole job just as a temporary step in the working out of your personal
Watch out for these indicators and seek God's help in reshaping your underlying attitude
to one of loyalty.
b. Develop a servant's heart
Consider how you can become a better servant to your employer or your company. How?
By actively looking for ways to increase your efficiency.
By working hard at every task you are given, especially the ones nobody else wants.
By seeing an awkward boss as a tool in God's hand to bring out spiritual qualities
and mature attitudes in you.
c. Look to God to give you work-fulfilment
Because work is part of God's perfect plan for you, he wants you to be fulfilled
in it. To have a job suited to your personal skills and abilities is a great blessing,
but this isn't always possible. You may have to settle for work of a dull or repetitive
nature. Either way, you can look to God to provide you with maximum fulfilment:
Psalm 62:5-7 'Find rest, O my soul, in God alone; my hope comes from him. He alone
is my rock and my salvation; he is my fortress, I shall not be shaken. My salvation
and my honour depend on God ; he is my mighty rock, my refuge.'
Finding a balance
The world of work is a much more competitive place today than it once was. Some employers
demand a level of commitment to the job or company that is quite unreasonable.
Without becoming a slacker, make adequate room in your life for family and friends,
leisure and relaxation. Proper attention to these will not detract from efficiency
in your work but, on the contrary, will enhance it.
Learn by heart
Colossians 3:23'Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for
the Lord, not for men.'