Labor – The Biblical Philosophy of Work

Happy Labor Day

Labor, or work, has always been prized among God’s people. Work makes the world go around. Without the labor of men’s hands, the world stops functioning as the laws of sin and entropy are clearly seen in the certain spiral toward disorder and collapse.

Labor - A Biblical Philosophy of Work

The first Labor Day was held in New York City on Tuesday, September 5, 1882 as planned by the Central Labor Union. It was a “workingmen’s holiday” that celebrated the achievements and contributions of workers.  It is a sad fact that many people today view work as a bad thing. This Labor Day let’s take a look at the concept of Labor as seen in the Bible.

God Left You an Example of Labor.

Genesis 1:1–4 “In the beginning God created the heaven and the earth. And the earth was without form, and void; and darkness was upon the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God moved upon the face of the waters. And God said, Let there be light: and there was light. And God saw the light, that it was good: and God divided the light from the darkness.”

The Bible begins with God working. He is using His creativity, His breath, and His words. Later He uses His hands to form man and His breath to bring Him to life. Our productivity through labor follows the example of God.

God made You to Labor.

Genesis 2:15 “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.”

Mankind is made to work. A good one word definition for work is accomplishment. There is pleasure, happiness and satisfaction in hard work that cannot come from amusements. These rewards do not come from “being on the clock”, but from accomplishing the day’s tasks. Get things done. Do them right. Then you can look back on them with satisfaction as God did.  

You are to Labor more than Rest.

Exodus 20:8–10 “Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the sabbath of the LORD thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daughter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates:”

The 5 day work week and the 8 hour workday are not found in Scripture. They worked early in the morning until sundown 6 days a week. Matthew 20:1, 8

They had a mind to work. They weren’t looking to get out of work, but to get the day’s work done. There was no safety net to care for them if they shirked their responsibilities. If they didn’t work – they didn’t survive. 2 Thessalonians 3:10

What is your attitude toward work? Do you carry your own weight or do you expect others to take care of you? FYI. If the last question offends you, it’s the second choice.

Proverbs 6:6–11 “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; Consider her ways, and be wise: Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, And gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, And thy want as an armed man.”

Hard Work Requires Rest.

We are to work 6 days, but we must also rest. Too much work will wear you down and discourage you. Psalm 107:12 It also will take you from the worship and service of God. How many people today work on the Lord’s Day? You need a day of rest in the works and worship of the Lord. Go to church on Sunday. Teach a Sunday School class. Work on a bus route. Sing in the Choir. But also be sure to relax from your worldly labors.

It would amaze you how much better you would feel and how productive you would be if you would just go to sleep at night. Turn off your electronics. Have some family time. Read a book. Go to bed on your schedule not according to the TV schedule. Social Media will be there tomorrow. Go to bed!

Ecclesiastes 5:12 “The sleep of a labouring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much: but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep.”

Hard work will make your sleep sweet. Some jobs today require more mental endurance than physical endurance. This means your brain is tired, but your body is not. Others can’t sleep as they struggle with worries about life. Some can’t sleep because they have too many things they are trying to pay for or accomplish. It may be time to give something up. Nevertheless, insomnia is a widespread problem today. Before you take a prescription for insomnia, try this: find some physical labor to do and wear yourself out! Don’t limit yourself to running or going to the gym. You could work on the to-do list around the house or go help a shut-in with some yard work. You can wear yourself out and help others at the same time.

Labor Keeps You Out of Trouble.

Exodus 5:9 “Let there more work be laid upon the men, that they may labour therein; and let them not regard vain words.”

2 Thessalonians 3:10–12 “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”

The old-timers used to say “Idle hands are the devil’s workshop.” It is true. People that don’t work will fill their time with something. Sin is everywhere and evil is free.  Fill your day with productive work and you will be too tired to get into trouble.

Enjoy the Fruits of Your Labors.

Psalm 128:2 “For thou shalt eat the labour of thine hands: happy shalt thou be, and it shall be well with thee.”

1 Corinthians 3:8 “Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: and every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labour.”

1 Timothy 5:18 “For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox that treadeth out the corn. And, The labourer is worthy of his reward.”

Hard work gives great rewards. It is God’s plan that each person enjoy the benefits of their own labor. This creates incentive to get up early, work hard, be creative and excel. Don’t envy someone who has more than you. Don’t begrudge another who has more worldly possessions as a reward for their labor. Rejoice that God allows us all to enjoy the benefits of our hard work.

Proverbs 5:10 “Lest strangers be filled with thy wealth; and thy labours be in the house of a stranger;”

The Bible teaches that it is a judgement for sin when someone else takes the rewards of your hard work. If you stop following God, don’t be surprised when you lose possessions and respect. Also, understand that ungodly philosophies that would rob you from the profit of your labor abound in this world. Christians should not be fooled by the lies of socialism, communism, and the like. These take from the diligent to give to the slothful. This is unrighteous and removes the incentive to work hard.

Labor in Righteousness.

Proverbs 10:16 “The labour of the righteous tendeth to life: the fruit of the wicked to sin.”

Don’t take jobs in sinful industries. People are willing to pay for sinful pleasures and the pay scale for those who work in those fields are high. Don’t compromise your integrity and disrespect your Savior by working for the devil. I’m not saying that you shouldn’t work for an unbeliever. In fact, being the best worker on the job is a great way to bring glory to God and cause conviction in the life of an unsaved manager or employer. However, I am saying emphatically that a Christian should not work in industries or jobs that help people sin.  Use your energy and talents to promote life and righteousness.

Trust Honest Labor to Increase Your Wealth.

Proverbs 13:11 “Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished: but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.”

Don’t trust schemes, gambling, dishonesty, etc. to pay the bills or make you wealthy. Hard work is God’s plan. Learn some marketable skills, find someone to pay you top dollar for what you have to offer and work hard. We can’t pay people $20 an hour to flip hamburgers or sweep floors. If your skill set won’t pay the bills, work hard to learn a new skill or trade. Work harder than everyone else. Live simply. Give generously. Save wisely. This is God’s plan.

Labor Not to Be Rich.

Proverbs 23:4 “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”

If your goal in life is to “be rich” than you have missed the point of being alive. The love of money is the root of all evil. The desire for riches will destroy you. Proverbs warns you to consider taking your own life now and skip all the misery rather than live a life with an appetite for deceitful riches.  That’s a strong warning!  There are more important treasures in life than money and possessions.

John 6:27 “Labour not for the meat which perisheth, but for that meat which endureth unto everlasting life, which the Son of man shall give unto you: for him hath God the Father sealed.”

Labor for the Lord.

Luke 10:2 “Therefore said he unto them, The harvest truly is great, but the labourers are few: pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he would send forth labourers into his harvest.”

Romans 16:12 “Salute Tryphena and Tryphosa, who labour in the Lord. Salute the beloved Persis, which laboured much in the Lord.”

1 Corinthians 3:9 “For we are labourers together with God: ye are God’s husbandry, ye are God’s building.”

1 Thessalonians 1:3 “Remembering without ceasing your work of faith, and labour of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ, in the sight of God and our Father;”

One of the amazing privileges of being a Christian is that we get to labor with God and godly people. Never get over the privilege of serving in Jesus’ name! Giving a cup of water in His name is a joyous privilege that brings eternal rewards. Structure your life around the worship and service of God.

No matter what you do to bring home a paycheck, you are first and foremost a child of God who is to bring glory to Him. Make time in your schedule to labor for His name with other believers through your local church. Schedule a time to go soul winning. Work on a bus route. Drive a bus. Help in Sunday School. Work in the nursery. Preach at the Nursing Home. Work with the Youth. Help in the Media Ministry. Clean the church. The opportunities are many! Ask your pastor where He could use your gifts and talents then get busy laboring in love for the Master.

I am saddened by the many Christians who see no value in serving God. They are so caught up in laboring for the world and seeking pleasure in their off hours that God has little place in their schedules. They sacrifice the eternal on the altar of the immediate.

Know that Your Labor is not in Vain.

1 Corinthians 15:58 “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be ye stedfast, unmoveable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as ye know that your labour is not in vain in the Lord.”

Be not weary in well doing, my friend. God will not forget your labor of love. You never waste a moment in the service of the King. He is keeping score and preparing your reward. Every sacrifice you make and every stand you take will be rewarded in eternity.

Labor to Support the Weak.

Acts 20:35 “I have shewed you all things, how that so labouring ye ought to support the weak, and to remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he said, It is more blessed to give than to receive.”

Money itself is not sinful. It is more blessed to give than receive. Your Labor and wise living will put you in a position to help others. It brings joy to use the rewards of your labor for good causes.

Money is a powerful tool. Use it to tithe, take care of your family, support the work of God, save for a rainy day, help the needy, etc. But be warned! If money ever becomes more that a greasy wrench to help you serve God, you are in real trouble.

Soon You Will Rest From Worldly Labors.

Revelation 14:13 “And I heard a voice from heaven saying unto me, Write, Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours; and their works do follow them.”

Soon your labors will end. Your window of opportunity will pass. Work for the night is coming when no man will work. We will live forever in the glories of our labors for Christ accomplished now.  Be not weary in well doing.  Labor diligently today with an eye on the glories of tomorrow.

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