The Christian and Work

Ryan Goodwin


Is man above work?


          The necessity for a man to support his family and work is so absolutely important to God that He stated through the apostle Paul, “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10). If our obligation to self-sustenance is thus, then what kind of employees should we be, and how should we approach the idea of work? First, it is important to know that man was designed for employment. We were created with hands, legs, muscles, and the ingenuity to build and advance implements of labor. Why, if God did not consider work important, did He give us the capacity to do so many physically challenging tasks? Furthermore, it was God Himself who ordained that Adam should labor, not just after expulsion from the Garden but in Eden itself. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).


·        Even in that worldly paradise, there were tasks that needed to be done, plants that needed cultivation, and food that had to be gathered.

·        Things were not just given to Adam with absolutely no effort on his part. We need to remember that if Adam had to work, then there is no way everything will be handed to us by God without some effort on our parts.

·        So we see that it was not sin that made man have to work, but design – of course, it is undeniable that sin made work harder (Genesis 3:17-19).

·        Also keep in mind that God still gets credit, even if we are doing the work. It is God who gives the growth by providing sun light, soil, and seed. It is His creation that functions properly, so our work is only our small part in the process.


          We should approach our labor with a good attitude. If we do not enjoy what we do, it is likely that the problem is not inherent in the work but in our feelings toward the work. A lazy man will never be satisfied with any job, no matter how inane or easy, because he has not the mind to work. Solomon compares the good worker to an ant in Proverbs 6:6-8, showing that all nature is at work – if even ants go about their business without complaining, then why does mankind? Why is it that so many people hate their jobs and come home every day miserable? “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting; to eat, drink, and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward” (Ecclesiastes 5:18). The most godly attitude toward work is to enjoy it, no matter what it is! The indication in the text is that any person can learn to find fulfillment in his work, but it takes a heart directed toward God to do so!

          There must be something to be said of work, for even God Himself works at certain things. After all, He labored for six entire days to create this earth! If the Almighty is not above getting His hands dirty and exerting effort into accomplishing something grand, then let us press on and make the most of our time in this world by enjoying our jobs. Jesus Christ worked, too, as we can see from Mark 6:3 that our Lord’s acquaintances from Nazareth knew Him to be a carpenter before His earthly ministry began. Paul, the great orator of the Gospel, did not refuse to work as a tentmaker when it became necessary.


What is the benefit to gainful employment


          First, a job is a healthy source of pride. Few things feel more fulfilling than coming home every day knowing that you have accomplished something that day, or that you have worked hard and supported your family. A man with a job to do stays busy, out of trouble, on task, prepared for new and exciting events in his life, and can provide comforts to his loved ones. Our jobs make us who we are, and define us as either men of character or men of dishonesty. “While toiling at our work, our work is toiling at us. While the farmer cultivates the crop, the crop cultivates the farmer. And as a man builds a house, the house builds the man. The same kind of work he puts into a visible house outside himself goes into an invisible house that rises within himself. If into one he puts dishonesty and rotten materials, into the other goes proportionate amounts of the same” (The Christian’s Everyday Problems, Brownlow, 73). Our Lord states it well when He says, “Even so every good tree brings forth good fruit, and every corrupt tree brings forth corrupt fruit” (Matthew 7:17).

          Second, work helps us appreciate the luxuries of life by exposing us to the rigors of labor. “The sleep of the laboring man is sweet” according to Ecclesiastes 5:12! Truly, when a man comes in from the field after a long, arduous day of work, the beauty of his wife, the taste of his supper, and the softness of his bed are all treasured. The lazy man, however, never has a point of reference and cannot possibly esteem these things in the same way as his productive counterpart.

          Third, the benefit of work is that it keeps us from idleness, which is a grave source of misery and trouble. Again, in 2 Thessalonians 3:11, Paul notes that some among them had become busybodies, doing no work at all. It is not that they were busy, but just that they were “busybodies” – worthless individuals who act in a manner which appears to be industrious, but is only injurious to the work of others. Busybodies are counted in the same class of sinners as murderers and thieves (1 Peter 4:15). A busybody is always laboring toward some end, but not one that is righteous:


·        Spreading rumors about people;

·        Butting in to personal lives;

·        Supplanting the role of one’s spouse;

·        Becoming involved in gambling or other sinful activities;

·        Too much time can leave a person dwelling on immoral things, like pornography or adultery.


The Lesson For Our Children


          Truly, there is no room in God’s kingdom for an unproductive person. At an early age we need to teach our children that a hard-earned dollar is more satisfying than one stolen in laziness or accrued by pity. “Let him who steals steal no longer; but let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Ephesians 4:28). It is a good thing to work hard at a job. Whether it is a physically exhausting task such as farm work or construction, or a mentally engaging activity like financial consulting or research, a job is one of the things that help us lead bountiful lives.


·        When we instill in children an enterprising spirit, it pervades every aspect of their lives. They will work harder at sports, homework, innovation, independent development, and even Christianity.

·        Teach your kids that there is nothing wrong with starting at the bottom. I believe every kid should get a job at a fast food restaurant, with a construction outfit, or as a “go-for” at a business.

·        Help kids see the value of a dollar by not giving them money “on demand.” Make them work for their allowance.

·        Be a happy worker so that your kids see the joy of gainful employment. Do not come home every day and complain, complain, complain.

·        Do not stifle your children’s employment dreams. Encourage them to strive for excellence and do something they love, regardless of the paycheck.


Are you a good worker?


          It is sad that some people in this world hate their jobs. If not hatred, many more of us at least look upon our careers as laborious, tiresome, and dreary. Day in and day out we do the same menial task, ever occupied by dreams of something else. This is called dissatisfaction, and it is a poor attitude if it is allowed to fester in the soul. While some workers are very good at what they do, others are very bad. As Christians we should seek to excel in all things, whether our job is in management, food sales, business, maintenance, or politics. As one becomes a good and worthy worker, he solves many of the problems that plague employment – it is amazing how very much an attitude change can affect our outlook on employment.


·        The good worker is one who sees the benefit of what he does not only for himself, but for others. He experiences the joy of knowing that his product or service is helping another person – perhaps another person physically incapable of performing that task. We should all feel like what we do is special to the world, that we are experts and masters of our trade, and that we are truly valuable to the well-being of society. The farmer who works hard should realize how dependent the world is on his product. The carpenter should stop and see the joy of a family being warmed in a home that was crafted by his hands. When we think of ourselves likes this, it enhances our sense of accomplishment.

·        The good worker is enthusiastic. “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). We may find that our day at work ends up staying bad if it starts bad. Coming in to work with a sour countenance and a chip on my shoulder will surely affect my productivity as well as my emotions. But if we try to arrive at work with a smile and a feeling of self-worth, we will accomplish so much more! Always remember that when we work, it is not just for other people! “Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men…” (Colossians 3:23). 

·        The good worker is happy with his employment. “A personnel man put the question to one hundred men, ‘How many of you fellows are thoroughly satisfied with your job?’ Only five hands went up. ‘What’s the matter?’ ‘Not enough money,’ one answered. Another replied, ‘I’m not interested in this kind of work.’ Another stated, ‘I took this job until something better comes along’” (Brownlow, 76). While there is nothing wrong with moving up in the business world and striving to better our economic status, we must also practice patience and be happy with where we are. After all, every time we move up a notch in our work, there is always another notch after that, and another still. We will never reach a point in our lives where we can say we have accomplished everything that is possible. If we are trying to get a promotion of some kind, or are planning on changing careers entirely, we must always remain happy in the meantime. Paul tells us, “I have learned to be content in whatever situation I am…” (Philippians 4:11). You may find yourself in some kind of menial job with little or no possibility of mobility. But liking a job is not wholly dependent upon the job itself – sometimes just knowing how blessed we are to have jobs at all is a reward. Furthermore, remembering why we are working at that menial job can help motivate us throughout the day. Perhaps keeping pictures of children and spouses around our workspace is a helpful reminder of why we labor and strive in this tough world.

·        The good worker keeps his focus on God. If we remember that this life is only temporary it will be much easier to bear a seemingly miserable job. We will never be able to escape hard work, for it is a fact of this life which has been installed since the day Adam and Eve were expelled from the Garden. God promised that life would not be easy! There will be weeds and thistles. There will be pay cuts and even terminations. There will be cruel bosses. There will be days of exhaustion and strife. But none of the troubles of this life can compare with the glory that awaits us in Heaven (Romans 8:18).