Work has become a four-letter word for many people. Societies go through cycles—one generation works hard and plays little, another generation reverses the trend. Right now we seem to be in a pro-play, anti-work feeling. We seem to have forgotten the truth of William James’s statement: “Nothing is work unless you would rather be doing something else.” In other words, if you truly enjoy work, it isn’t work. Maybe we’ve neglected this truth and fallen prey to the “can’t wait till Friday” mentality. The Bible makes no pleasant promises to people who spend their entire work week looking forward to the weekend.
Hard work means prosperity; only fools idle away their time.
Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave.
Lazy people don’t even cook the game they catch, but the diligent make use of everything they find. Proverbs 12:11, 24, 27
An empty stable stays clean, but no income comes from an empty stable.
Work brings profit, but mere talk leads to poverty! Proverbs 14:4, 23
To balance out the “work hard and succeed” promises of the Book of Proverbs, the Book of Ecclesiastes assures us that human beings cannot find their ultimatesatisfaction in work. Only God can provide that kind of satisfaction:
As I looked at everything I had worked so hard to accomplish, it was all so meaningless. It was like chasing the wind. There was nothing really worthwhile anywhere. Ecclesiastes 2:11
Paul, a hard worker in the Lord’s service, had no patience with laziness. He not only knew that idleness displeased God, but it also made unbelievers have a low opinion of Christians.
This should be your ambition: to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we commanded you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others to meet your financial needs. 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12
Those who won’t care for their own relatives, especially those living in the same household, have denied what we believe. Such people are worse than unbelievers. 1 Timothy 5:8
Paul promised Christians something that we often forget: Work does not need to be humdrum, because we can do it to the glory of God. Like any part of ourselves, our work—whatever it may be—can honor the Lord:
Work hard, but not just to please your masters when they are watching. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Ephesians 6:6-7