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The Bible and strong work ethic

By Julia Fetherston
The bible and strong work ethic

We don’t often think of work as a good thing. Many of us long for retirement or pine for a world where we can work less and play more.

And while there’s wisdom in finding work-life balance and putting aside time for rest and recreation, work shouldn’t be seen as a roadblock to happiness and fulfillment.

In fact, we derive fulfillment from our work, but it’s easy to overlook this in the face of discontentment. How can we affirm the truths of work? Let’s look to Scripture.

God’s perfect plan

Work is a massive part of our lives on Earth. The average person will spend one-third of their entire life at work. That number might seem daunting—and maybe even a little depressing—but it doesn’t need to be. Work wasn’t intended to be a negative factor in life—God intended us to work from the onset of creation, even before the fall.

Genesis 2:15 (NIV) says, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Before Satan tempted humankind and the curse of sin entered the world, we were called to work. This was all a part of God’s perfect plan for us. It makes sense, too, since work provides fulfillment for most people. We weren’t created to sit around and do nothing; we were created to enrich this world through our unique gifts and talents.

To God be the glory

Imagine how fulfilling a life dedicated to God’s service would be. Now, make your imagination your reality—our work should always point back to Christ. Here are some verses that affirm this truth loud and clear:

  •  “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God.” – 1 Corinthians 10:31 (NIV)
  • “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters.” – Colossians 3:23 (NIV)
  • “Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.” – Proverbs 16:3 (NIV)

Every word you speak, every action you take, and every success you experience should always glorify God. This holds true whether you work in ministry, a secular workplace, or if you’re self-employed—everything you do can and should be God-honoring.

Even if the people around you aren’t receptive, you should still glorify God. Besides, our focus should be on eternal things—not worldly gain (John 6:27 NIV).

Go to work—even if you don’t want to

This isn’t a recommendation. Scripture’s clear that this life requires work. 2 Thessalonians 3:10 (NIV) says, “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.” And Galatians 6:4-5 (KJV) shares a similar sentiment: “For every man shall bear his own burden.”

Essentially, if you don’t carry your load and don’t put in the work to eat, someone else is. While the Body of Christ is encouraged to help carry the loads and burdens of our brothers and sisters in Christ (Galatians 6:2 KJV), it’s not an excuse for inaction. Your heart should focus on how to help and serve others, not on how to get the most out of others to benefit yourself.

A bare minimum attempt isn’t enough

We’re all given gifts for which to glorify God. Romans 12:6 (ESV) says, “Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them.” We’re called to use them—not hide them away.

Perhaps the best example of this is the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30 ESV). A master gives his servants different amounts of wealth (talents) to manage and take care of while he journeys. Two of the servants stewarded their talents well and created more. The third hide away his talent for fear of misusing it. When the master returned, he rebuked the servant who didn’t steward the talent well.

Work wasn’t intended to be a negative factor in life—God intended us to work from the onset of creation, even before the fall.

Similarly, we have gifts we were given by God’s grace, and we’re supposed to use those gifts to bring glory to God. We’re supposed to cultivate our talents, make them better, and serve others with them. We can’t achieve this without putting in effort.

Proverbs 18:9 (ESV) says, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” Essentially, if we don’t put effort into our work, we’re compared to those who actively try to destroy. With every project or task we touch, we should give our all for the glory of God.

God works with you

While stewarding our time and effort seems daunting, we have a God who loves us and cares for us. We don’t have to be a one-man island. When we pursue God’s glory and will, His favor rests on us, and He will establish the work we do (Psalm 90:17 NIV). God’s blessings extend to those who faithfully and resiliently pursue Him in all they do.

And in moments where your work becomes stress filled and overwhelming, God wants to help us through it. Matthew 11:28 (NIV) calls us to bring our burdens to Him, and He will give us rest.

Whatever you do, give it your all for God’s glory, and trust Him to take care of the rest.

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Julia Fetherston
Julia is a writer and storyteller with a passion to inspire others to live out the truths of the gospel. Her out-of-the-box thinking provides a unique perspective on biblical truth, and her mission is to relate those truths back to others.