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Labor Day: 8 Biblical Principles of Work

Some people hate to do it. Some love to do it. Some go to great lengths to avoid doing it. Some do it too much. While there are many different attitudes toward work, one thing remains constant: work must be done. Since the Garden of Eden everyone has worked or depended on someone else's work for their survival. Work sets a person's lifestyle—where you live, when you sleep and eat, the time with family, even your dress.

Another constant about work is the fact that God has a clear perspective on it, and we are to align our thoughts with His. As you reflect on your own attitude toward work, consider the following 8 principles that outline God's view of work:

1) Work is ordained by God. It was His creative invention from the beginning. The Bible declares that God worked (Genesis 1). By working we resemble God. Like God, you have the ability to work, make plans, implement them, and be creative. Additionally, God gave us the task of ruling over and taking care of His creation (Gen. Genesis 1:28, Genesis 2:15). 

2) Work is for a lifetime. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground (Genesis 3:19). God intends that humans are to work as long as they live. Meaningful activity plays a critical role in being a human being - whether paid or volunteer. The magical age of 65 shouldn't end meaningful, purposeful work.

3) Work is not a punishment. God did not create work as drudgery, but as a gift of fulfillment to life. A human being can do nothing better than...find satisfaction in his work. This too, I see, is from the hand of God, for without Him, who can eat or find enjoyment (Ecclesiastes 2:24-25)? 

4) Work has three purposes: to provide money or resources to supply the necessities of life; to provide for a quality of life in the satisfaction of doing a job well; and to serve God. 

5) Work calls for obedience. Even when the boss isn't looking, a good worker is consistent and diligent to the task and loyal to the organization (Colossians 3:22). The real boss is Jesus Christ. See your job as service to Him - not simply your employer. Employers should treat employees with respect and fairness. 

6) Work should be done with excellence. You are to render service, as to the Lord, and not to men (Ephesians 6:6-7); not to be men-pleasers but God-pleasers. God's standard of excellence needs to be the human standard. 

7) Work is honorable. All professions and all kinds of work, assuming they are legal and biblically ethical, are honorable before the Lord. There is no dichotomy between sacred and secular work. All work brings glory to God and fulfillment to you, if it is done to God's glory (1 Corinthians 10:31). 

8) Work provides an opportunity for witness. You manifest a powerful message, both verbal and nonverbal, of a supernatural approach to work. The world today needs this powerful witness to the reality of Christ and the difference that He makes in His followers. (Matthew 5:16)

What are your thoughts? What biblical principle about work would you add?

 

From christian ethics in a postmodern world by James P. Eckman. Copyright evangelical training association, Wheaton, Ill. 1-800-369-8291. Used by permission.
James P. Eckman is president and professor in theology, ethics, and history at Grace University Omaha, Neb. He holds a Th.M. from
dallas theological seminary and a Ph.D. from the University of Nebraska. An ordained minister, James hosts a weekly radio program, Issues in Perspective, and lectures widely on postmodern era implications for the Christian community. He is married and the father of two children.