The Wisdom of Hard Work

  1. Work is not the curse
    • Adam was fully employed prior to the Fall: Genesis 2:15, “Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it”
    • The curse: Genesis 3:17-19, “Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. 19 In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground”
  2. God worked / rested
    • Genesis 2:1-2, “Thus the heavens and the earth, and all the host of them, were finished. And on the seventh day God ended His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done”
    • The work / rest cycle is divinely ordained: “Six days you shall do your work, and on the seventh day you shall rest, that your ox and your donkey may rest, and the son of your female servant and the stranger may be refreshed.” (Exodus 23:12) (Plus multiple other references)
  3. Work is commended / slack is condemned
    • RBP: “The Book of Proverbs does not pursue its subjects in a systematic or organized way. Thus the references to diligence and laziness punctuate the book” (Quarterly)
    • Proverbs:
      • 10:4-5, “He who has a slack hand becomes poor, But the hand of the diligent makes rich. 5 He who gathers in summer is a wise son; He who sleeps in harvest is a son who causes shame”; 26“As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, So is the lazy man to those who send him”
      • 12:24,27, “The hand of the diligent will rule, But the lazy man will be put to forced labor” … “The lazy man does not roast what he took in hunting, But diligence is man’s precious possession”
      • 13:4,11, “The soul of a lazy man desires, and has nothing; But the soul of the diligent shall be made rich” … “Wealth gained by dishonesty will be diminished, But he who gathers by labor will increase”
      • 14:23, “In all labor there is profit, But idle chatter leads only to poverty”
      • 15:19, “The way of the lazy man is like a hedge of thorns, But the way of the upright is a highway”
      • 20:4, “The lazy man will not plow because of winter; He will beg during harvest and have nothing.”
      • 21:5, 25, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to plenty, But those of everyone who is hasty, surely to poverty” … “The desire of the lazy man kills him, For his hands refuse to labor”
      • 22:29, “Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; He will not stand before unknown men.”
      • 24:30-34, “I went by the field of the lazy man, And by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; 31 And there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. 32 When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction: 33 A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest; 34 So shall your poverty come like a prowler, And your need like an armed man”
      • 26:13-16, “The lazy man says, “There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!” 14 As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed. 15 The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. 16 The lazy man is wiser in his own eyes Than seven men who can answer sensibly”
    • New Testament perspective:
      • 1 Timothy 5:8, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (KJV). (“Infidel” is ἄπιστος, “without faith;” in ESV, NKJV, NASB, NIV, “an unbeliever.”)
      • 1 Corinthians 7:29-31, “But this I say, brethren, the time is short, so that from now on even those who have wives should be as though they had none, those who weep as though they did not weep, those who rejoice as though they did not rejoice, those who buy as though they did not possess, and those who use this world as not misusing it. For the form of this world is passing away
      • 1 Corinthians 7:33-34, “But he who is married cares about the things of the world—how he may please his wife”
      • Ephesians 4:28, “Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need.”
      • 1 Thessalonians 4:11, “that you also aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you”
      • 2 Thessalonians 3:10-11, “For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies”
      • 1 Timothy 5:16, “If any believing man or woman has widows, let them relieve them, and do not let the church be burdened, that it may relieve those who are really widows”
      • 3 John 2, ” Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers”
    • On work and working:
      • Because we have a material aspect (we are body and spirit), we have material needs. God knows that we have these material needs!
      • John the Apostle prayed that disciples would prosper spiritually, physically, and materially (3 John 2). Yet the reality is that Christians do struggle in all of these elements!
      • One who fails to provide for his own is called in the KJV an “infidel.”
      • It’s perfectly normal to seek to meet material needs (called “the things of the world” in 1 Cor. 7).
      • Some in the church should be paid—1 Timothy 5:18, “The laborer is worthy of his wages” and 1 Corinthians 9:14, “those who proclaim the gospel should get their living by the gospel.”
      • Others should not be a financial burden to the church. Children are to care for parents in financial need (1 Tim. 5:16). Others may need financial assistance from time to time but they should not be chronic non-workers who depend upon the church.
      • We are to work to live and have basic needs meet. Christians are not to be materialistic, greedy getters of as much as we might be able to attain!
  4. Final observations
    • Each generation builds upon the wealth of a previous generation (example of Mayflower pilgrims … working soil with rudimentary hand tools … today I would go out and buy a rototiller!)
    • Our culture has a problem with not working. Some do not want to work. Some government programs (intended as a safety net) encourage non-work
    • God calls us to provide for self, not be a burden to society or the church, provide for the needs of the ministry and meet genuine needs of the poor
Comment: Outline of my SS lesson for our upcoming ABF class. Image: Working on the transcontinental railroad (1865). Image source . Observations not a part of my SS class:

  • When I view images of men laboring by hand, I realize that what I consider 'hard work' just does not compare!
  • For a number of reasons I labor with my mind. One because I am handicapped. I literally could not do hard physical labor. 
  • I pray I would complain less about work! And praise the Lord for providing a job for me where: I can use my mind, be paid well, have all of my needs met and then some!

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  1. I had 9 articles on personal finance published on Sharper Iron. To make them easily found to my followers here, they may be found at jrpeet.com. Select tab "Articles"


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