So – why do we have to work for a living? Why can’t we all just enjoy a life of leisure and recreation? We have already learned that work has intrinsic value. We have learned that God has blessed work – and He has gifted us for it. Now we learn that working for a living helps us develop healthy independence. Making good financial decisions as we engage ourselves is also a part of maintaining this independence. We work to earn a living for ourselves – so that we are not forcing others to provide for us. This lesson is aimed at the development of a positive, healthy, personal work ethic.
“Christians are called by the Scriptures to be busy, not busybodies . . . (1 Thess. 4:11-12). The Christian perspective on work is that it does not involve meddling, but rather getting on with doing our own tasks. As both this text and Galatians 6 suggest, one of the proximate goals of work is to enable us to support ourselves and our families. Christians are not called to be dependent on their family or friends—or on the government. We are called to make our contribution to society, not least by not unnecessarily draining that society’s emergency resources when we could be our supporting ourselves.”
-Ben Witherington, III, Work: A Kingdom Perspective on Labor, William B. Eerdmans Publishing Co., 2011, p. 35
So – why do we have to work? Why can’t we just enjoy a life of leisure and perpetual recreation? We have already learned that work matters to God. He has designed us with the ability to work. He has blessed work as a dignified endeavor. We have the opportunity to work and earn a living for ourselves (and our families). There is intrinsic value in this enterprise. We can participate in meaningful labor so that we are not a burden to others. We can work, honorably earn a profit and provide for our needs (and the needs of others).
WEEKLY READINGS OVERVIEW
The Apostle Paul had no problem with the church providing financial support for its ministers. In fact, he argues that this is the appropriate thing for churches to do. However, as a missionary-evangelist, he chose to do his best to provide for himself. He worked as a tent-maker and made a living to support his ministry. He was an example to these new believers in the first century. In the Proverbs we read the wise counsel that challenges us not to be slothful, but productive. As you reflect on our own work habits, how would you assess your own work ethic? Do you see yourself as a conscientious, productive person? How do others see you in this regard?
ISSUES/QUESTIONS TO ADDRESS
1. How would you define a “strong work ethic”?
2. Why is productive activity (work) so valuable to human beings?
3. What are the benefits of working for a living?
4. What are the virtues of making a profit from our work?