Proverbs 13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 24:30–34; 26:13–14; 28:19; 6:6–8; 10:5; 14:4; 21:20; 24:27; 11:24–25; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27comment (0)
March 27, 2014
By Robert Olsen, Ph.D.
Related Scripture: Proverbs 13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 24:30–34; 26:13–14; 28:19; 6:6–8; 10:5; 14:4; 21:20; 24:27; 11:24–25; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27
Explore the Bible
Assistant Professor of Christian Ministries, University of Mobile
Don’t Be a Slacker
Proverbs 13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 24:30–34; 26:13–14; 28:19; 6:6–8; 10:5; 14:4; 21:20; 24:27; 11:24–25; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27
Work Diligently (13:4; 14:23; 20:4; 24:30–34; 26:13–14; 28:19)
We live in an interesting time. It seems the work ethic of generations past is slipping away and being replaced with a culture less inclined to work hard. It is therefore important for modern Christians to ask what is the biblical approach to work? How should Christians act in modern society?
The Bible is clear it is the duty of man to work. In Genesis, God had Adam tend to the garden. Work then was not a chore as it is often depicted today. Today, after the fall in Genesis 3, work can be toilsome. Does this mean Christians should do what they can to avoid work? No; the Book of Proverbs shows what happens to those who shun work. In the verses for this section, it is evident that those who work benefit by reaping the fruits of their labor. Those who work receive payment in some fashion. Those who do not work suffer for their laziness. This is obvious in areas like agriculture, where one who does not plant or harvest will not have food. But it also has relevance for us today — think of an employee who does not work hard. He will likely not receive a promotion. Or think of the student who does not put in time practicing, studying or doing homework — he will likely not do well in school and then be at a disadvantage when it comes to getting into college or getting a job after college.
It must be understood that working hard does not guarantee success — if you are not good at math, working hard at engineering does not mean you will become a successful engineer, or if you are not a good artist, practicing countless hours does not guarantee you will be a great artist. But overall, the general principle the Bible shows is that those who work hard benefit. It must always be remembered though that the Christian does not work hard so that he can receive an earthly reward. Paul shows us in Colossians 3:17 and 3:23 that Christians work with all their heart as working for the Lord because our inheritance is from the Lord. It just so happens that quite often, those who do work hard actually benefit here on earth as well.
Work Smartly (6:6–8; 10:5; 14:4; 21:20; 24:27)
Hard work is for naught if the work is not done in a wise manner. A wise worker needs to prioritize. Proverbs 24:27 shows it is important to do the most pressing and important work first, then do the work that is not as imperative. Another important element of working smartly is knowing when to work and when to rest. Proverbs 10:5 shows a son who has his priorities backward. He should have rested so that he could do work at the appropriate time. While we saw in the first section that being a slacker is unproductive and unwise, being a workaholic is bad as well. God gave man the Sabbath — a day of rest — so that man could rest and recharge. People who are driven to work all the time will eventually burn out. God did not design us to work this way. God “took off” the seventh day to show mankind a model we are to emulate.
Give Generously (11:24–25; 19:17; 22:9; 28:27)
Since we are to model God, we also need to extend grace to others. We reflect God when we show kindness and help others, even when they don’t deserve help. The Proverbs are replete with verses about how followers of God should be generous to others and give to those in need. Proverbs 11:25 and 22:9 say those who give to others will be blessed. Christians should not interpret this to mean that if we give to others we will receive more money. That is not the point. We receive blessings in other ways, most notably by receiving the approval of God. We need to remember that God gives us wealth not for our own comfort, but so that we can be a comfort and blessing to others.