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What Does The Bible Say About Work?

What Does The Bible Say About Work?

Image source: chron.com

There is a debate in intellectual circles about whether or how much people should work. The debate isn’t new.

Nearly a century ago the famous progressive economist John Maynard Keynes argued that we shouldn’t work so much, believing that eventually (by 2030 in his estimation) we would get to what he believed was the perfect work schedule of 15 hours per week.

Before him, Karl Marx explained how not working was a key element to achieving a perfect communist society. Keynes and Marx aren’t exactly the two influencers most of us would want to listen to, but they’re not alone.

Workaholism

The top three countries ranked for best work-life balance are Denmark, Spain and Belgium, according to a 2011 report. In Denmark, workers spend five to six hours per day on leisure alone. You may remember the reported French ban on work-related emails and phone calls during non-working hours (a report that wasn’t quite accurate). France’s labor unions also instituted a 35-hour work week, with a waiver being needed to exceed that.

We often think of these countries as lazy, but that’s not entirely true. They do, however, lean toward the Keynes-Marx ideal of “less work, more play.” At the same time, here in the US we have a dichotomy: a large portion of the population works 50-plus hours each week, and a large portion of the population doesn’t work at all – and lives off the government dole.

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But what does the Bible say about work?

The Original Work Week

God set the example for us to follow “in the beginning” by working for six days and resting for one. Then, “God saw everything that he had made, and behold, it was very good” (Gen 1:31). Like so many “good” things that He gave us and showed us, we’ve altered this to our liking and decided on our own that He didn’t rest enough.

We like to think that Adam and Eve had nothing to do all day but stroll through the garden and look at the pretty flowers, but since God made man “in our image, after our likeness” (Gen 1:26), it’s safe to assume that they were responsible for taking care of the garden, or working it. That’s what Genesis 2:15 says: “The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Work, you see, existed before the fall. Of course after the apple incident, work became much harder and man was to “toil” and work to feed himself “by the sweat of his brow.”

Work Hard and Enjoy It

Image source: knoxblogs.com

Image source: knoxblogs.com

The Bible is clear on the fact that man was meant to work hard. The word “toil” is used repeatedly, and that doesn’t mean casually doing something. “Behold, what I have seen to be good and fitting is to eat and drink and find enjoyment in all the toil with which one toils under the sun the few days of his life that God has given him, for this is his lot” (Eccl 15:18).

Not only are we to work hard, but we’re supposed to enjoy it and put our hearts into it, as Colossians 3:23 tells us: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men.” That’s a hard one for most of us, because the clear implication is that if we grumble about our work, we’re grumbling about what the Lord wants us to do.

Consequences of Laziness

If we can live off handouts, why would we work? Paul tells us in no uncertain terms that “if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Tim 5:8). He also admonished laziness in a letter to the Thessalonians, saying, “For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thess 3:10).

Slacking off at work is frowned upon pretty seriously as well, according to Proverbs 18:9: “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” What about people who really need welfare? They’re provided for in God’s plan, too. Several verses in Leviticus tell workers not to harvest their entire vineyard or gather the grapes that drop so that the poor can have them when they come around.

The more advanced we become technologically, the more work gets done for us by technology. In the world’s view, that’s an invitation to leisure and amusement. But always remember that the word “amusement” historically means “divert the attention, beguile, delude.” Don’t be deluded into too much leisure.

What do you think? Share your thoughts in the section below:

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13 comments

  1. The bible also commands believers to be fair to their workers. Unfortunately, most “Christian” Conservatives have forgotten or never read that part:

    Deuteronomy 24:14-15

    “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

  2. Sorry, but you are not correct. Work was not part of paradise prior to the fall. The garden was a creation of God and self-tending as was all His creations prior to the great fall. Also, when He commands us to enjoy our work He is speaking of work or jobs created after the fall to perpetuate His grand gift to us…..those jobs, or that work is to be in honor of Him not those created by the devil such as government jobs, abortionists, porn producers, today’s teachers, lawyers, and many more that are pure evil in their nature and source. Farming, ministering, carpenter, healing (not today’s medical professionals), cleaning, cooking, educating, care of others and many more….all in service to the Lord. These jobs individuals can feel good about and do with joy in their hearts…the others are jobs that man hates but are forced to do because we allow the devil to direct our lives rather than the Lord Thy God.

    J

    • Careful……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.”

      • You are correct. I can’t believe I forgot that verse. Guess I need to re-read Genesis again, before I open my mouth. Thank you for the correction.

        J

    • i enjoyed the part about “not today’s medical professionals” lol. i’m a firm believer that any disease or illness etc. that God put on this earth, he also gave us a natural cure for it. it’s just up to us to find them.

  3. The bible also commands believers to be fair to their workers. Unfortunately, most “Christian” Liberalss have forgotten or never read that part:

    Deuteronomy 24:14-15

    “You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your brothers or one of the sojourners who are in your land within your towns. You shall give him his wages on the same day, before the sun sets (for he is poor and counts on it), lest he cry against you to the Lord, and you be guilty of sin.

    It’s been my experience that conservations pay better, donate more and tip better.

  4. Who cares what the bible says. Just a dusty old book written by men who claimed they were somehow the conduit of gods thoughts.

    But if you want to go there, why not follow the torah or quran or shruti or sutras? Or for that matter maybe that weird pattern on a leaf or the position of a star or the way a rock looks when the sun hits it just right.

    Belief in a supreme being is silly. I mean really, if god was so powerful, why did he allow a satan, cancer, polio, narrow minded people? Just to be mean? Afterlife is for those who can’t stand the though of “no more me”.

    As far as christianity goes, as well as some of the other “beliefs”, there are some good teachings there. Most of the ten commandment are a pretty good set of rules to live by. I just don’t like most christians and I would bet that 9 out of 10 could not tell you what all 10 commandments were just like most Americans could not tell you what all the first 10 amendments to the constitution were.

    One more thing, If you are going to follow the bible, follow all of it. Don’t just cherry pick the verses that you think justifies your narrow viewpoint.

    • most of the 10 commandments? which ones are not good to live by?
      1: no other gods before me
      2: not make idols
      3: don’t use his name in vain
      4: remember the sabbath and keep it holy
      5: honor your parents
      6: no murder
      7:no adultery
      8: no theft
      9: don’t lie, but written in a lot more words
      10: don’t covet
      so please, which ones should be ignored.
      and if you don’t believe in a supreme being then please prove the theory of evolution to be correct. and answer this specifically. if the universe started with non living organic material then how did we come up with living beings- animals and humans. please explain how this universe managed to beat the odds and make the insanely improbable dna mutation from monkey to human. it has been proven impossible. we share 50% of our dna make up with bananas? does that mean we are half banana half human? here’s a interesting video i found on youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXDDZrYOuAE it’s about 2 hrs long and the occasional echo effect is annoying but a very good video. it’s funny that the last 10 minutes the film maker tries to convert you to islam. right now i’m enjoying videos titled “how to destroy the theory of evolution in 3 minutes”

    • if you don’t believe in God, then is it safe to assume you believe in evolution? can you prove to me that evolution is true? i’ll prove to you with 2 youtube videos that evolution is false
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=gbiXTH0484M
      and this 2 hr video
      https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=TXDDZrYOuAE
      the occasional echo effect is annoying and the last 10 minutes they try to convert you to islam, but other than that it’s a good video

      • Can you prove a god exists?

        Don’t like #1 for obvious reasons. Same with #2 & 3 & 4.

        I can at least prove the possibility of evolution due to mutations of species. Virus mutations, birds or turtles of the same species but have adapted different body parts based on the available food on the Galapagos islands.

        But let’s take your thought about a god and the buy-bull. Adam and Eve. Hmm… How did we get so many different looking humans from those two. Was that a mutation to better survive the environment or god just having fun with different colors in his coloring box? What if earth was one of his experiments gone wrong. Is this the only planet he created?

        Back to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are listed as having three children, Cain, Abel and Seth, then “other sons and daughters”.[Gen 5:4] According to the Book of Jubilees, Cain married his sister Awan, a daughter of Adam and Eve. Hmm, I wonder if Kim Davis would have issued a marriage license for that?

        Do you think that maybe Cain or Able did it with Eve. Maybe Adam had a hankering for Awan. Quite incestuous.

        Are we really to believe that the whole of human civilization came from two people?

        I’ve seen lots of movies. I can show you one that proves you are an idiot. Does that make it true? No.

        Bottom line is, I can’t PROVE my point and neither can you. Just seems that the folks with the higher level of electrical-chemical activity in their cortex agree with me.

        • “Just seems that the folks with the higher level of electrical-chemical activity in their cortex agree with me.”

          Bit of a snarky comment, not necessary. Sorry!

        • “I can at least prove the possibility of evolution due to mutations of species. Virus mutations, birds or turtles of the same species but have adapted different body parts based on the available food on the Galapagos islands. ”

          Whether or not there is variation within genetic limits is not being contested.

          “But let’s take your thought about a god and the buy-bull. Adam and Eve. Hmm… How did we get so many different looking humans from those two. Was that a mutation to better survive the environment or god just having fun with different colors in his coloring box? What if earth was one of his experiments gone wrong. Is this the only planet he created?”

          Again variation within genetic limits is irrelevant; you yourself are upholding the position that the present variation came from microorganisms, much less… healthy humans!

          “Back to Adam and Eve. Adam and Eve are listed as having three children, Cain, Abel and Seth, then “other sons and daughters”.[Gen 5:4] According to the Book of Jubilees, Cain married his sister Awan, a daughter of Adam and Eve. Hmm, I wonder if Kim Davis would have issued a marriage license for that?”

          Again irrelevant: whether or not it was good or bad that men married their sisters is irrelevant to whether or not the Bible is true.

          “Do you think that maybe Cain or Able did it with Eve. Maybe Adam had a hankering for Awan. Quite incestuous.
          Are we really to believe that the whole of human civilization came from two people?
          I’ve seen lots of movies. I can show you one that proves you are an idiot. Does that make it true? No.
          Bottom line is, I can’t PROVE my point and neither can you. Just seems that the folks with the higher level of electrical-chemical activity in their cortex agree with me.”

          This doesn’t really look like any sort of argument; so I won’t reply to it except that I appreciate your apology!
          The basic argument that I would submit is that the Bible is unique in that it must be assumed in order to argue against it; in order to further view the debate on the subject simply search the web for “transcendental/presuppositional apologetics”; I myself will probably lack sufficient time to continue the debate here.
          Viva la Verdad!

      • OK I looked at the first video. What a joke. I also believe that Crest toothpaste will give me a brighter smile in 30 days too.

        Where should I start with that video?

        1: life has never been observed to come from non-life. While that may be a version of the truth, there is this article:
        http://www.livescience.com/3214-life-created-lab.html
        This give far more credence to the argument of evolution than any you have of creationism.

        #2 There is no known observable process by which new genetic information can be added to the genetic code of an organism. Hmmm. Observable is key here as these processes take centuries at best but more likely hundreds of thousands or millions of years. So, pretty hard to “observe”. But it does happen. That’s a fact and Darwin wrote about it. Read Origin Of Species.

        Back to creationism which assume religion and a supreme being. Which religion is correct? I was brought up as a christian. One of the more vile versions of christianity, Southern baptist. Yikes! I soon learned what a load of BS it was and that caused me to seek out other religions. I found something common in most but not all. The desire of some to rule over the many.

        Which is the correct version of truth. Christianity, Judaism, Islam, Buddhism, Hinduism, the fire god thing, rock and water god thing, bright flashy thing in the sky every 75-76 years thing? I think man has two main issues, the belief that something is out there bigger than himself(could be god or life on another planet) and the thought of “no more me”(can’t stand the thought that I won’t exist). Both of these are prevalent in all religions.

        Your born, you live your life, you die. That’s it. Hopefully you leave the world a better place than you found it.

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