I. BIBLICAL PERSPECTIVE OF WORK
A. WORK NECESSARY
1. Lord himself is a worker
By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. . . all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:2-3).
And the Lord God planted a garden toward the east, in Eden . . . (Genesis 2:8).
But He [Jesus] answered them, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17).
2. Required in Old Testament
Six days you shall labor and do all your work . . . (Exodus 20:9).
Six days you are do to your work. . . Exodus 23:12
You shall work six days. . . Exodus 34:21
Six days you shall labor and do all your work. . . Deuteronomy 5:13
3. Required in New Testament
Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good . . . (Ephesians 4:28).
. . . with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you; not because we do not have the right to this, but in order to offer ourselves as a model for you, that you might follow our example. For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone will not work, neither let him eat. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread (2 Thessalonians 3:8-12)
4. Work expected
Man goes forth to his work and to his labor until evening (Psalm 104:23).
B. THE REQUIREMENT TO WORK NOT A CONSEQUENCE OF SIN
1. Lord commanded people to work before the fall
Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it (Genesis 2:15).
2. Lord command people to work after the fall but it was cursed and made more difficult
cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field; by the sweat of your face you shall eat bread . . . the Lord God sent him out from the garden of Eden, to cultivate the ground from which he was taken (Genesis 3:17-19, 23).
This one [Noah] shall give us rest from our work and from the toil of our hands arising from the ground which the Lord has cursed (Genesis 5:29).
C. ALL HONEST WORK IS HONORABLE
1. Examples of the vocations of godly people
The Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate and keep it (Genesis 2:15).
. . . Abel was a keeper of flocks, but Cain was a tiller of the ground (Genesis 4:2).
Then Noah began farming and planted a vineyard (Genesis 9:20)
. . . the men [Jacob’s family] are shepherds, for they have been keepers of livestock . . . (Genesis 46:32).
Then Pharaoh said to his [Joseph] brothers, “What is your occupation? “So they said to Pharaoh, “Your servants are shepherds, both we and our fathers” (Genesis 47:3).
. . . I [Amos] am a herdsman and a grower of sycamore figs (Amos 7:14).
B. Domestic worker
[Potiphar] made him [Joseph] overseer over his house . . . (Genesis 39:4).
C. Government workers and leaders
And Pharaoh said to Joseph, “See I have set you over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 41:41).
They [Jacob’s sons] told him [Jacob], saying, “Joseph . . . is ruler over all the land of Egypt” (Genesis 45:26).
. . . I [Nehemiah] was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah . . . (Nehemiah 4:14).
He [Pharaoh] made him [Joseph] lord of his house, and ruler over all his possessions (Psalm 105:21).
Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts, and he made him ruler over the whole province of Babylon and chief prefect over all the wise men of Babylon (Daniel 2:48).
It seemed good to Darius to appoint 120 satraps over the kingdom, that they should be in charge of the whole kingdom, and over them three commissioners (of whom Daniel was one) . . (Daniel 6:1-2).
Then I [Daniel] got up again and carried on the king’s business . . . (Daniel 8:27).
. . . there was an Ethiopian eunuch, a court official of Candace, queen of the Ethiopians, who was in charge of all her treasure . . . (Acts 8:27).
. . . [Peter and Andrew] were fishermen (Matthew 4:18).
. . . [Peter and Andrew] were fishermen (Mark 1:16).
. . . [James and John] left their father Zebedee in the boat . . . (Mark 1:20).
E. Building Trades
Is not this the carpenter’s son [Jesus]? (Matthew 13:55).
Is not this the carpenter [Jesus]. . . (Mark 6:3).
. . . [Paul] stayed with them [Aquila and Priscilla] and they were working; for by trade they were tent-makers (Acts 18:2-3).
F. Tax collectors
[Jesus] saw Levi the son of Alpheus sitting in the tax office. . . (Mark 2:14).
[Jesus] noticed a tax gather named Levi. . . (Luke 5:27).
[Zaccheus] was a chief tax-gatherer. . . (Luke 19:2).
. . . Lydia . . . a seller of purple fabrics . . . (Acts 16:14).
D. WORK AS UNTO THE LORD
Whether, then, you eat of drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not be way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them . . . (Ephesians 6:5-9).
Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus. . . (Colossians 3:17).
Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:23-24).
1. Despairing view of working—a useless vanity
What advantage does man have in all his work which he does under the sun? (Ecclesiastes 1:3).
I enlarged my works: I built houses for myself, I planted vineyards for myself; I made gardens and parks for myself, and I planted in them all kinds of fruit trees; I made ponds of water for myself from which to irrigate a forest of growing trees . . . for my heart was pleased because of all my labor and this was my reward for all my labor. Thus I considered all my activities which my hands had done and the labor which I had exerted, and behold all was vanity and striving after wind and there was no profit under the sun (Ecclesiastes 2:4-5, 10-11).
Thus I hated all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun, for I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And who knows whether he will be a wise man or a fool? Yet he will have control over all the fruit of my labor for which I have labored by acting wisely under the sun. This too is vanity. Therefore I completely despaired of all the fruit of my labor for which I had labored under the sun. When there is a man who has labored with wisdom, knowledge and skill, then he gives his legacy to one who had not labored with them. This too is vanity and a great evil. For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity. There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good . . . (Ecclesiastes 2:18-24).
What profit is there to the worker from that in which he toils? I have seen the task which God has given the sons of men with which to occupy themselves. . . every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor – it is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 3:9-10, 13).
And I have seen that every labor and every skill which is done is the result of rivalry between a man and his neighbor. This too is vanity and striving after wind. The fool folds his hands and consumes his own flesh. One hand full of rest is better than two fists full of labor and striving after wind (Ecclesiastes 4:4-6).
Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to 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. Furthermore, as for every man to whom God has given riches and wealth, He has also empowered him to eat from them and to receive his reward and rejoice in his labor; this is the gift of God (Ecclesiastes 5:18-19).
All a man’s labor is for his mouth and yet the appetite is not satisfied (Ecclesiastes 6:7).
E. OUR WORK SHOULD BE THE WORK GOD INTENDS FOR US
And did I not choose them from all the tribes of Israel to be My priests, to go up to My alter, to burn incense, to carry an ephod before Me . . . (1 Samuel 2:28).
And let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us; and do confirm for us the works of our hands; yes, confirm the work of our hands (Psalm 90:17).
Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to accomplish His work (John 4:34).
Do not work for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to eternal life, which the Son of man shall give to you . . . (John 6:27).
For David, after he had served the purpose of god in his own generation, fell asleep, and was laid among his fathers . . . (Acts 13:36).
each man’s work will become evident; for the day will show it, because it is to be revealed with fire; and the fire itself will test the quality if each man’s work. If any man’s work which he has built upon remains, he shall receive a reward. If any man’s work is burned up, he shall suffer loss; but himself shall be saved, yet so as through fire (1 Corinthians 3:13-15).
For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them (Ephesians 2:10).
1. Work that will glorify God
I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do (John 17:4).
2. Productive to know the precise work God has for us
. . . that night they [disciples] caught nothing. But when the day was now breaking, Jesus . . . said to them, “Cast the net on the right-hand side of the boat, and you will find a catch.” They cast therefore, and then they were not able to haul it in because of the great number . . . of large fish, a hundred and fifty-three; and although there were so many, the net was not torn (John 21:3-11).
3. Unless Lord is in our work, it is without merit
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it . . . (Psalm 127:1).
Commit your works to the Lord, and your plans will be established (Proverbs 16:3).
a. There must be no selfish ambition in our work
[the Lord] will render to every man according to his deeds . . . to those who are selfishly ambitious . . . wrath and indignation (Romans 2:6, 8).
. . . we have as our ambition, whether at home or absent from the body, to be pleasing to Him. For we must all appear before the judgment-seat of Christ . . . (2 Corinthians 5:9-10).
But if you have . . . selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where . . . selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing (James 3:14-16).
b. Do not desire greatness for self
But you [Baruch], are you seeking great things for yourself? Do not seek them . . . (Jeremiah 45:5).
4. We need to be strong, courageous, and prompt
Be strong and courageous, for you shall give this people possession of the land which I [the Lord] swore to their fathers to give them. Only be strong and courageous . . . (Joshua 1:6-7).
“Now, my son, the Lord be with you that you may be successful, and build the house of the Lord your God just as He has spoken concerning you . . . Be strong and courageous, do not fear nor be dismayed . . . Arise and work, and may the Lord be with you (1 Chronicles 22:10, 13, 16).
“Consider now, for the Lord has chosen you to build a house for the sanctuary; be courageous and act . . . Then David said to his son Solomon, “Be strong and courageous, and act; do not fear nor be dismayed, for the Lord God, my God, is with you. He will not fail you nor forsake you until all the work for the service of the house of the Lord is finished (1 Chronicles 28:20).
But you [king Asa], be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work (2 Chronicles 15:7).
“But now take courage, Zerubbabel,” declares the Lord, “take courage also, Joshua son of Jehozadak, the high priest, and all you people of the land take courage,” declares the Lord, “and work, for I am with you,” says the Lord of hosts (Haggai 2:4).
a. We will encounter difficulties when doing work God has for us
Then the people of the land discouraged the people of Judah, and frightened them from building, and hired counselors against them to frustrate their counsel all the days of Cyrus . . . (Ezra 4:4-5).
. . . all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work. And it came about from that day on, that half of my servants carried on the work while half of them held the spears, the shields, the bows, and the breastplates; and the captains were behind the whole house of Judah. Those who were rebuilding the wall and those who carried burdens took their load with one hand doing the work and the other holding a weapon. As for the builders, each wore his sword girded at his side as he built . . . we carried on the work with half of them holding spears from dawn until the stars appeared. At that time I also said to the people, “Let each man with his servant spend the night within Jerusalem so that they may be a guard for us by night and a laborer by day” (Nehemiah 4:15-22).
So I [Nehemiah] sent messengers to them [his enemies] saying, “I am doing a great work and I cannot come down. Why should the work stop while I leave it and come down to you? . . . all of them were trying to frighten us, thinking, “They will become discouraged with the work and it will not be done” (Nehemiah 6:3, 9).
F. WORK HARD
. . . the precious possession of a man is diligence (Proverbs 12:27).
Whatever your hand finds to do, verily, do it with all your might . . . (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
Sow your seed in the morning, and do not be idle in the evening, for you do not know whether morning or evening sowing will succeed, or whether both of them alike will be good (Ecclesiastes 11:6).
1. Examples of hard workers
. . . by day the heat consumed me [Jacob], and the frost by night, and my sleep fled from my eyes [as I worked] (Genesis 31:38-40).
I [Nehemiah] told them [citizens of Jerusalem] how the hand of my God had been favorable to me . . . So they put their hands to the good work (Nehemiah 2:18).
So we built the wall . . . for the people had a mind to work (Nehemiah 4:6).
. . . In everything I [Paul] showed you that by working hard in this manner . . . (Acts 20:34).
To this present hour we [the Apostles] . . . toil, working with our own hands . . . (1 Corinthians 4:11-12).
I [Paul] have been in labor and hardship, through many sleepless nights . . . (2 Corinthians 11:27).
And for this purpose [proclaiming Christ to the Gentiles] also I labor, striving according to His power, which mightily works within me (Colossians 1:29).
For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you . . . (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
. . . with labor and hardship we [Paul] kept working night and day so that we might not be a burden to any of you (2 Thessalonians 3:8).
2. Hunger motivates us to work
A worker’s appetite works for him, for his hunger urges him on (Proverbs 16:26).
3. Hard workers should be paid first
The hard-working farmer ought to be the first to receive his share of the crops (2 Timothy 2:6).
4. Benefits of work/hard work
a. Personal needs met
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread . . . (Proverbs 12:11).
He who tends the fig tree will eat its fruit . . . (Proverbs 27:18).
He who tills his land will have plenty of food . . . (Proverbs 28:19).
b. Profit and wealth
. . . the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely . . . (Proverbs 10:4-5).
Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, but the one who gathers by labor increases it (Proverbs 13:11).
In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).
The plans of the diligent lead surely to advantage, but everyone who is hasty comes surely to poverty (Proverbs 21:5).
c. Satisfied soul
. . . the soul of the diligent is made fat (Proverbs 13:4).
d. Become a leader
The hand of the diligent will rule . . . (Proverbs 12:24).
e. Restful sleep
The sleep of the working man is pleasant, whether he eats little or much . . . (Ecclesiastes 5:12).
When you shall eat of the fruit of your hands, you will be happy and it will be well with you (Psalm 128:1-2).
5. Do not over work
It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for He gives to His beloved even in his sleep (Psalm 127:2).
a. Do not over work to get rich
Do not weary yourself to gain wealth, cease from your consideration of it (Proverbs 23:4).
6. Laziness condemned
Go to the ant, O sluggard, observe her ways and be wise, which, having no chief, officer or ruler, prepares her food in the summer, and gathers her provisions in the harvest (Proverbs 6:6-8).
. . . he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully (Proverbs 10:5).
Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the lazy one to those who send him (Proverbs 10:26).
A slothful man does not roast his prey . . . (Proverbs 12:27).
The way of the sluggard is as a hedge of thorns . . . (Proverbs 15:19).
He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. Proverbs 18:9
The sluggard buries his hand in the dish, and will not even bring it back to his mouth (Proverbs 19:24).
The sluggard says, “There is a lion outside; I shall be slain in the streets!” (Proverbs 22:13).
The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! A lion in the open square!” As the door turns on its hinges, so does the sluggard on his bed. The sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is weary of bringing it to his mouth again. The sluggard is wiser in his own eyes than seven men who can give a discreet answer (Proverbs 26:13-16).
a. Results of laziness
Laziness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle man will suffer hunger (Proverbs 19:15).
The sluggard does not plow after the autumn, so he begs during the harvest and has nothing (Proverbs 20:4).
How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest – and your poverty will come in like a vagabond, and your need like an armed man (Proverbs 6:9-11).
Poor is he who works with a negligent hand . . . (Proverbs 10:4).
In all labor there is profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty (Proverbs 14:23).
Do not love sleep, lest you become poor . . . (Proverbs 20:13).
. . . drowsiness will clothe a man with rags (Proverbs 23:21).
I passed by the field of the sluggard, and by the vineyard of the man lacking in sense; and behold, it was completely overgrown with thistles, its surface was covered with nettles, and its stone wall was broken down. When I saw, I reflected upon it; I looked, and received instruction. A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, then your poverty will come as a robber, and your want like an armed man (Proverbs 24:30-34).
Through indolence the rafters sag, and through slackness the house leaks (Ecclesiastes 10:18).
The desire of the sluggard puts him to death, for his hands refuse to work . . . (Proverbs 21:25).
4) Starved soul
The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing . . . (Proverbs 13:4).
5) Forced labor
. . . the slack hand will be put to forced labor (Proverbs 12:24).
G. TAKE TIME OFF FROM WORK FOR REST AND WORSHIP
a. Lord himself established pattern of Sabbath
By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done; and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done. Then God blessed the seventh day and sanctified it, because in it He rested from all His work which God had created and made (Genesis 2:2-3).
For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea and all that is in them, and rested on the seventh day; therefore the Lord blessed the sabbath day and made it holy (Exodus 20:11).
. . . for in six days the Lord made heaven and earth, but on the seventh day He ceased from labor, and was refreshed (Exodus 31:17).
. . . God rested on the seventh day from all His works . . . for the one who has entered His rest has himself also rested from his works, as God did from His (Hebrews 4:4, 10).
b. Sabbath instituted and required in Old Testament
. . . on the seventh day; no work at all shall be done . . . (Exodus 12:16).
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter, your male or your female servant or your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you (Exodus 20:9-10).
Six days you are to do your work, but on the seventh day you shall cease from labor in order that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female slave, as well as your stranger, may refresh themselves (Exodus 23:12).
You shall work six days, but on the seventh day you shall rest; even during the plowing time and harvest you shall rest (Exodus 34:21).
For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day you shall have a holy day, a sabbath of complete rest to the Lord; whoever does any work shall be put to death (Exodus 35:2).
For six days work may be done; but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest . . . (Leviticus 23:3).
Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath of the Lord your God; in it you shall not do any work, you or your son or your daughter or your male servant or your female servant or your ox or your donkey or any of your cattle or your sojourner who stays with you, so that your male servant and your female servant may rest as well as you (Deuteronomy 5:13-14).
As for the peoples of the land who bring wares or any grain on the sabbath day to sell, we will not buy from them on the Sabbath . . . (Nehemiah 10:31).
Thus says the Lord, “Take heed for yourselves, and do not carry any load on the sabbath day or bring anything through the gates of Jerusalem. And you shall not bring a load out of your houses on the sabbath day nor do any work, but keep the sabbath day holy, as I commanded your forefathers . . . bring no load in through the gates of this city on the sabbath day, but to keep the sabbath day holy by doing no work on it (Jeremiah 17:21-22, 24).
1) Penalty for violating sabbath
For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, holy to the Lord; whoever does any work on the sabbath day shall surely be put to death (Exodus 31:15).
. . . they found a man gathering wood on the sabbath day . . . the Lord said to Moses, “The man shall surely be put to death; all the congregation shall stone him with stones outside the camp.” (Numbers 15:32-35).
In those days I saw in Judah some who were treading wine presses on the sabbath, and bringing in sacks of grain and loading them on donkeys, as well as wine, grapes, figs, and all kinds of loads, and they brought them into Jerusalem on the sabbath day. So I admonished them on the day they sold food. Also men of Tyre were living there who imported fish and all kinds of merchandise, and sold them to the sons of Judah on the sabbath, even in Jerusalem. Them I reprimanded the nobles of Judah and said to them, “What is this evil thing you are doing, by profaning the sabbath day? Did not our fathers do the same so that our God brought on us, and on this city, all this trouble? Yet you are adding to the wrath on Israel by profaning the sabbath.” (Nehemiah 13:15-18).
if you do not listen to Me to keep the sabbath day holy by not carrying a load and coming in through the gates of Jerusalem on the sabbath day, then I shall kindle a fire in the gates, and it will devour the palaces of Jerusalem and not be quenched (Jeremiah 7:27).
2. Sabbatical year
And you shall sow your land for six years and gather in its yield, but on the seventh year you shall let it rest and lie fallow . . . do the same with your vineyard and your olive grove (Exodus 23:10-11).
. . . the land shall have a sabbath to the Lord. Six years you shall sow your field, and six years you shall prune your vineyard and gather in its crop, but during the seventh year the land shall have a sabbath rest, a sabbath to the Lord; you shall not sow your field nor prune your vineyard. Your harvest’s aftergrowth you shall not reap, and your grapes of untrimmed vines you shall not gather; the land shall have a sabbatical year (Leviticus 25:1-5).
. . . we will forego the crops the seventh year . . . (Nehemiah 10:31).
a. Consequences of not observing sabbatical year
Then the land will enjoy its sabbaths all the days of the desolation, while you are in your enemies’ land; then the land will rest and enjoy its sabbaths (Leviticus 26:34).
For the land shall be abandoned by them, and shall make up for its sabbaths while it is made desolate without them . . . (Leviticus 26:43).
3. Year of Jubliee
You shall have the fiftieth year as a jubilee; you shall not sow, nor reap its aftergrowth, nor gather in from its untrimmed vines (Leviticus 25:11).
4. Religious holidays in Old Testament
On the first day shall be a holy convocation, you shall do no laborious work (Numbers 28:18).
on the seventh day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work (Numbers 28:25).
. . . on the seventh day there shall be a solemn assembly to the Lord your God; you shall do no work on it (Deuteronomy 16:8).
b. Day of Atonement
. . . in the seventh month, on the tenth day of the month, you shall . . . not do any work . . . (Leviticus 16:29).
the tenth day of this seventh month is the day of atonement . . . Neither shall you do any work on this same day . . . any person who does any work on this same day, that person I will destroy from among his people. You shall do no work at all (Leviticus 23:27-31).
c. Feast of Unleavened Bread
On the first day you shall have a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work . . . the seventh day is a holy convocation; you shall not do any laborious work (Leviticus 23:7-8).
d. Feast of Booths
. . . On the fifteenth of this seventh month is the Feast of Booths for seven days to the Lord. On the first day is a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work of any kind . . . the eighth day you shall . . . do no laborious work (Leviticus 23:34-36).
on the fifteenth day of the seventh month you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work . . . On the eighth day . . . you shall do no laborious work (Numbers 29:12, 35).
e. Various festivals
On this same day you shall make a proclamation as well; you are to have a holy convocation. You shall do no laborious work . . . (Leviticus 23:21).
. . . In the seventh month on the first of the month, you shall have a rest . . . You shall not do any laborious work . . . (Leviticus 23:24-25).
Also on the day of the first fruits, when you present a new grain offering to the Lord in your Feast of Weeks, you shall have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work (Numbers 28:26).
Now in the seventh month, on the first day of the month, you shall also have a holy convocation; you shall do no laborious work . . . (Numbers 29:1).
on the tenth day of this seventh month . . . you shall not do any work (Numbers 29:7).
II. GOD’S PART IN WORK
A. GOD GIVES JOB SKILLS
You shall speak to all the skillful persons whom I [the Lord] have endowed with the spirit of wisdom, that they make Aaron’s garments. . . (Exodus 28:3).
the Lord spoke to Moses, saying, “See, I have called by name Bezalel . . . I have filled him with the Spirit of God in wisdom, in understanding, in knowledge, and in all kinds of craftsmanship” (Exodus 31:1-3).
. . . in the hearts of all who are skillful I [the Lord] have put skill . . . (Exodus 31:6).
. . . the Lord has called by name Bezalel . . . and He has filled him with the Spirit of God, in wisdom, in understanding and in knowledge and in all craftsmanship; to make designs for working in gold and in silver and in bronze, and in the cutting of stones for settings, and in the carving of wood, so as to perform in every inventive work. He also has put in his heart to teach, both he and Oholiab . . . He has filled them with skill to perform every work of an engraver and of a designer and of an embroiderer. . . (Exodus 35:30-35).
Bezalel and Oholiab, and every skillful person in whom the Lord has put skill and understanding to know how to perform all the work in the sanctuary, shall perform in accordance with all that the Lord has commanded. Then Moses called Bezalel and Oholiab and every skillful person in whom the Lord had put skill . . . to come to the work to perform it (Exodus 36:1-2).
Only the Lord give you [Solomon] discretion and understanding . . . (1 Chronicles 22:12).
God said to Solomon, “Because . . . you have asked for yourself wisdom and knowledge, that you may rule My people, over whom I have made you king, wisdom and knowledge have been granted to you” (2 Chronicles 1:11-12).
all the kings of the earth were seeking the presence of Solomon, to hear his wisdom which God had put in his heart (2 Chronicles 9:23).
For to a person who is good in His sight He has given wisdom and knowledge . . . (Ecclesiastes 2:26).
And as for these four youths, God gave them knowledge and intelligence in every branch of literature and wisdom; Daniel even understood all kinds of visions and dreams (Daniel 1:17).
[the Lord] gives wisdom to wise men, and knowledge to men of understanding . . . for You have given me [Daniel] wisdom and power (Daniel 2:21, 23).
B. GOD GIVES SUCCESS
The Lord was with Joseph, so he became a successful man. . . his master saw that the Lord was with him and how the Lord caused all that he did to prosper in his hand . . . (Genesis 39:2-3).
May the Lord reward your work, and your wages be full from the Lord, the God of Israel, under whose wings you have come to seek refuge (Ruth 2:12).
Now, my son, the Lord be with you that you may be successful, and build the house of the Lord your God just as He has spoken concerning you (1 Chronicles 22:11).
And I [Nehemiah] told them how the hand of my God had been favorable to me. . . then they said, “Let us arise and build.” So they put their hands to the good work . . . I answered . . . The God of heaven will give us success; therefore we His servants will arise and build . . . (Nehemiah 2:18, 20).
. . . when our enemies heard that it was known to us, and that God had frustrated their plan, then all of us returned to the wall, each one to his work . . . And I said. . . “The work is great and extensive, and we are separated on the wall far from one another. At whatever place you hear the sound of the trumpet, rally to us there. Our God will fight for us” (Nehemiah 4:15, 19-20).
So the wall was completed . . . in fifty-two days . . . they recognized that this work had been accomplished with the help of our God (Nehemiah 6:15-16).
John answered and said, “A man can receive nothing, unless it has been given him from heaven” (John 3:27).
C. GOD CONTROLS PROMOTION
. . . You rule over all, and in Your hand is power and might; and it lies in Your hand to make great, and to strengthen everyone (1 Chronicles 29:12).
Blessed be the Lord your God who delighted in you, setting you on His throne as king for the Lord your God; because your God loved Israel . . . He made you king over them . . . (2 Chronicles 9:8).
For not from the east, nor from the west, nor from the desert comes exaltation; but God is the Judge; He puts down one, and exalts another (Psalm 75:6-7).
You, O king [Nebuchadnezzar], are the king of king, to whom the God of heaven has given the kingdom, the power, the strength, and the glory; and wherever the sons of men dwell . . . He has given them into your hand and caused you to rule oven them all . . . (Daniel 2:37-38).
. . . [Nebuchadnezzar] recognized that the Most High God is ruler over the realm of mankind, and that He sets over it whomever He wishes (Daniel 5:21).
D. GOD CAN MOTIVATE PEOPLE TO WORK
So the Lord stirred up the spirit of Zerubbabel . . . and the spirit of Joshua . . . and the spirit of all the remnant of the people; and they came and worked on the house of the Lord . . . (Haggai 1:14).
II. EMPLOYER AND EMPLOYEE RESPONSIBILITIES
A. EMPLOYER RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Pay employee a fair wage
Woe to him . . . who uses his neighbor’s services without pay and does not give him his wages. (Jeremiah 22:13).
[the Lord] will draw near to you for judgment; and I will be a swift witness against . . . those who oppress the wage earner in his wages. . . (Malachi 3:5).
a. Example of employer seeking to pay fair wage
Laban said to Jacob, “Because you are my relative, should you therefore serve me for nothing? Tell me, what shall your wages be?” (Genesis 29:15).
[Jacob] Name me [Laban] your wages, and I will give it . . . (Genesis 30:28).
1) Punishment for those who do not pay fair wage
Come now, you rich, weep and howl for your miseries which are coming upon you. . . Your gold and your silver have rusted; and their rust will be a witness against you and will consume your flesh like fire. It is in the last days that you have stored up your treasure! Behold, the pay of the laborers who mowed your fields, and which has been withheld by you, cries out against you; and the outcry of those who did the harvesting has reached the ears of the Lord of Sabaoth (James 5:1, 3-4).
2) Parable with illustration of paying fair wage
For the kingdom of heaven is like a landowner who went out early in the morning to hire laborers for his vineyard. And when he had agreed with the laborers for a denarius for the day, he sent them into his vineyard. And he went out about the third hour and saw others and . . . he said, ‘You too go into the vineyard, and whatever is right I will give you.’ And so they went. Again he went out about the sixth and ninth hour, and did the same thing. And about the eleventh hour he went out, and found others standing; and he said to them . . . You too go into the vineyard.’ And when evening had come, the owner of the vineyard said to his foreman, ‘Call the laborers and pay them their wages, beginning with the last group to the first.’ And when those hired about the eleventh hour came, each one received a denarius. And when those hired first came, they thought that they would receive more; and they also received each one a denarius. And when they received it, they grumbled at the landowner, saying, ‘These last men have worked only one hour, and you have made them equal to us who have borne the burden and the scorching heat of the day.’ But he answered and said to one of them, ‘Friend, I am doing you no wrong; did you not agree with me for a denarius? Take what is yours and go your way, but I wish to give to this last man the same as to you. Is it not lawful for me to do what I wish with what is my own? Or is your eye envious because I am generous? Thus the last shall be first, and the first last (Matthew 20:1-16).
2. Pay employee promptly
The wages of a hired man are not to remain with you all night until morning (Leviticus 19:13).
You shall not oppress a hired servant who is poor and needy, whether he is one of your countrymen or one of your aliens who is in your land in your towns. You shall give him his wages on his day before the sun sets, for he is poor and sets his heart on it; so that he may not cry against you to the Lord and it become sin in you (Deuteronomy 24:14-15).
3. Be just and fair
Masters, grant to your slaves justice and fairness, knowing that you too have a Master in heaven (Colossians 4:1).
a. Do not threaten employee, rather serve employee
With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And, masters, do the same things to them [slaves], and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him (Ephesians 6:7-9).
b. Be willing to listen to employee complaints
If I have despised the claim of my male or female slaves when they filed a complaint against me, what then could I do when God arises, and when He calls me to account, what will I answer Him? Did not He who made me in the womb make him, and the same one fashion us in the womb? (Job 31:13-15).
4. Give employee adequate time off
Why have we fasted and Thou do not see? . . . on the day of your fast you find your desire, and drive hard all your workers (Isaiah 58:3).
5. Be honest (see HONESTY Section)
a. If employer dishonest, employees become dishonest
If a ruler pays attention to falsehood, all his ministers become wicked (Proverbs 29:12).
6. Special treatment for employees who are believers
If you buy a Hebrew slave, he shall serve you for six years; but on the seventh he shall go out as a free man without payment [treatment not required for foreign slaves] (Exodus 21:2).
If your kinsman, a Hebrew man or woman, is sold to you, then he shall serve you six years, but in the seventh year you shall set him free. And when you set him free, you shall not send him away empty-handed. You shall furnish him liberally from your flock and from your threshing floor and from your wine vat; you shall give to him as the Lord your God has blessed you (Deuteronomy 15:12-14).
a. Employer blessed for having godly employees
I [Laban] have divined that the Lord has blessed me on your [Jacob] account (Genesis 30:27).
And it came about that from the time he made him overseer in his house, and over all that he owned, the Lord blessed the Egyptian’s house on account of Joseph; thus the Lord’s blessing was upon all that he owned, in the house and in the field (Genesis 39:5).
7. Examples of employers
a. Faithful employer
from the day that I was appointed to be their governor in the land of Judah . . . neither I nor my kinsmen have eaten the governor’s food allowance. But the former governors who were before me laid burdens on the people and took from them bread and wine besides forty shekels of silver; even their servants domineered the people. But I did not do so because of the fear of God. And I also applied myself to the work on this wall; we did not buy any land, and all my servants were gathered there for the work. Moreover, there were at my table one hundred and fifty Jews and officials, besides those who came to us from the nations that were around . . . Yet for all this I did not demand the governor’s food allowance, because the servitude was heavy on this people (Nehemiah 5:14-18).
b. Unfaithful employer
The Egyptians compelled the sons of Israel to labor rigorously; and they made their lives bitter with hard labor in mortar and bricks and at all kinds of labor in the field, all their labors which they rigorously imposed on them (Exodus 1:13-14).
8. Be selective in hiring employees
Like an archer who wounds everyone, so is he who hires a fool or who hires those who pass by (Proverbs 26:10).
B. EMPLOYEES RESPONSIBILITIES
1. Be faithful
Then the commissioners and satraps began trying to find a ground of accusation against Daniel in regard to government affairs; but they could find no ground of accusation or evidence of corruption, inasmuch as he was faithful . . . (Daniel 6:4).
a. Serve godly employer even more faithfully
And let those who have believers as their masters not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but let them serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved . . . (1 Timothy 6:2).
b. Promotion and success can be result of employee faithfulness
A servant who acts wisely will rule over a son who acts shamefully, and will share in the inheritance among brothers (Proverbs 17:2).
. . . he who cares for his master will be honored (Proverbs 27:18).
[because of faithfulness] Daniel enjoyed success in the reign of Darius and in the reign of Cyrus the Persian (Daniel 6:28).
c. Example of employees so faithful that accountability not required
. . . they [the priests] did not require an accounting from the men into whose hand they gave the money to pay to those who did the work, for they dealt faithfully (2 Kings 12:15).
Only no accounting shall be made with them for the money delivered into their hands, for they [the workmen] deal faithfully (2 Kings 22:7).
d. Example of supervised faithful employees
the men did the work faithfully with foremen over them to supervise them . . . (2 Chronicles 34:12).
e. Faithful employee blessing to employer
Like the cold of snow in the time of harvest is a faithful messenger to those who sent him, for he refreshes the soul of his masters (Proverbs 25:13).
2. Be honest (See HONESTY Section)
3. Be obedient and submissive to employer because employee actually serving Lord
Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not be way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free (Ephesians 6:5-8).
Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men; knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve (Colossians 3:22-24).
Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything . . . that they may adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect (Titus 2:9-10).
a. Even when working for unreasonable employer
Servants, be submissive to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and gentle, but also to those who are unreasonable. For this finds favor, if for the sake of conscience toward God a man bears up under sorrows when suffering unjustly (1 Peter 2:18-19).
4. Honor your employer
Let all who are under the yoke as slaves regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine may not be spoken against (1 Timothy 6:1).
a. Do not be argumentative
Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative . . . (Titus 2:9).
5. Do not slander your fellow employees
Do not slander a slave to his master, lest he curse you and you be found guilty (Proverbs 30:10).
6. Be content with your wage
And some soldiers were questioning him [John the Baptist], saying, “And what about us, what shall we do?” And he said to them . . . be content with your wages” (Luke 3:14).
7. Act with moral integrity
. . . his master’s wife looked with desire at Joseph, and she said, “Lie with me.” But he refused and said to his master’s wife. . . [my master] has put all that he owns in my charge. There is no one greater in this house than I, and he has withheld nothing from me except you, because you are his wife. How then could I do this great evil, and sin against God?” (Genesis 39:7-9).
IV. GENERAL PRINCIPLES OF WORK AND BUSINESS
A. DO NOT BE IN BUSINESS PARTNERSHIP WITH UNBELIEVERS
Do not be bound together with unbelievers; for what partnership have righteousness and lawlessness, or what fellowship has light with darkness? Or what harmony has Christ with Belial, or what has a believer in common with an unbeliever? Or what agreement has the temple of God with idols? For we are the temple of the living God; just as God said, “I will dwell in them and walk among them; and I will be their God, and they shall be My people. Therefore, come out from their midst and be separate,” says the Lord. “And do not touch what is unclean; and I will welcome you (2 Corinthians 6:14-17).
B. BUILD YOUR BUSINESS BEFORE BUILDING YOUR HOUSE
Prepare your work outside, and make it ready for yourself in the field; afterwards, then, build your house (Proverbs 24:27).
C. ANYTIME WE ARE PRODUCTIVE THERE IS A CERTAIN AMOUNT OF CLUTTER CREATED
Where no oxen are, the manger is clean, but much increase comes by the strength of the ox (Proverbs 14:4).
D. EXCELLENT, SKILLED PEOPLE WILL BE HONORED
Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men (Proverbs 22:29).
E. DO NOT PRESUPPOSE UPON TOMORROW IN YOUR BUSINESS
Come now, you who say, “Today or tomorrow, we shall go to such and such a city, and spend a year there and engage in business and make a profit.” Yet you do not know what your life will be like tomorrow. You are just a vapor that appears for a little while and then vanishes away. Instead, you ought to say, “If the Lord wills, we shall live and also do this or that” (James 4:13-15).
F. ATTEND TO YOUR OWN BUSINESS AND WORK WITH YOUR HANDS
Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12).
G. UNGODLY PEOPLE WILL SOMETIMES PERSECUTE THE GODLY TO PROTECT A WICKED BUSINESS
A certain man named Demetrius, a silversmith, who made silver shrines of Artemis, was bringing no little business to the craftsmen; these he gathered together with the workmen of similar trades, and said, “Men, you know that our prosperity depends upon this business. And you see and hear that not only in Ephesus, but in almost all of Asia, this Paul has persuaded and turned away a considerable number of people, saying that gods made with hands are no gods at all. And not only is there danger that this trade of ours fall into disrepute . . . when they heard this they were filled with rage. . . (Acts 19:24-28).
H. THE LORD CAN USE WORK TO HUMBLE US
Because they [Israel] had rebelled against the words of God, and spurned the counsel of the Most High. Therefore He humbled their heart with labor (Psalm 107:11-12).
I. FAIR COMPENSATION REQUIRED FOR GOODS AND SERVICES RENDERED
. . . command that they cut for me cedars from Lebanon, and my servants will be with your servants; and I (Solomon) will give you (Hiram) wages for your servants according to all that you say . . . (1 Kings 5:6).
. . . the house which I am about to build will be great and wonderful. Now behold, I will give to your servants, the woodsmen who cut the timber, 20,000 kors of crushed wheat, and 20,000 kors of barley, and 20,000 baths of wine, and 20,000 baths of oil (2 Chronicles 2:9-10).
1. Example of unfair compensation
And it came about at the end of twenty years in which Solomon had built the two houses, the house of the Lord and the king’s house (Hiram king of Tyre had supplied Solomon with cedar, cypress, timber and gold), then King Solomon gave Hiram twenty cities in the land of Galilee. So Hiram came out from Tyre to see the cities which Solomon had given him, and they did not please him (1 Kings 9:10-12).
J. BIBLICAL REFERENCE TO RETIREMENT
This is what applies to the Levites: from twenty-five years old and upward they shall enter to perform service in the work of the tent of meeting. But at the age of fifty years they shall retire from service in the work and not work any more . . . they themselves shall do no work . . . (Number 8:24-26).
K. THE EXCELLENT WIFE WORKS HARD AND IS A BLESSING TO HER HOUSEHOLD
An excellent wife . . . works with her hands in delight. She is like merchant ships; she brings her food from afar. She rises also while it is still night, and gives food to her household, and portions to her maidens . . . she plants a vineyard . . . her lamp does not go out at night. She stretches out her hands to the distaff, and her hands grasp the spindle . . . She makes coverings for herself. . . She makes linen garments and sells them, and supplies belts to the tradesmen . . . She looks well to the ways of her household, and does not eat the bread of idleness. Her children rise up and bless her; her husband also. . . (Proverbs 31:10-28).
. . . encourage the young women to love their husbands, to love their children, to be sensible, pure, workers at home . . . that the word of God may not be dishonored (Titus 2:4-5).
L. EMPTY PURSUITS RESULT IN POVERTY
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues vain things lacks sense (Proverbs 12:11)
He who tills his land will have plenty of food, but he who follows empty pursuits will have poverty in plenty (Proverbs 28:19).
M. THE WRONG TYPE OF AMBITION
But if you have bitter jealously and selfish ambition in your heart, do not be arrogant and so lie against the truth. This wisdom is not that which comes down from above, but is earthly, natural, demonic. For where jealousy and selfish ambition exist, there is disorder and every evil thing (James 3:14-16).