Points Covered: How is work viewed in the Bible? The purpose of work. How to be efficient at work.?
We live in a society that has mixed views on work. On the one hand, we have a nation of workaholics, people working 60-70 hours a week out of a compulsion to “get ahead.” People who get in to work early, stay late, and bring their work home with them. Then there are people who hardly work and gain from other’s labor. What is your attitude towards work? Do you enjoy your work or do you just sort of put up with it?
Many people have a poor attitude about their work. They dread Monday and wait for Friday. Do you know that God is interested in your career? The Bible gives us plenty of insights on work.
1. Work is a command of God.
Genesis 2:15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Exodus 20:9 Six days you shall labor and do all your work.
Ephesians 4:28 Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer but must work.
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 11Work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
2 Thessalonians 3:10 The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.
So work is a commandment of God and all those who are working, you are fulfilling God’s command in your lives.
2. The purpose of work.
a. Work gives money.
Proverbs 10:4 Lazy hands make for poverty, but diligent hands bring wealth. Money is one of the things we want to get out of work so that we can provide for our families, meet our needs, and enjoy life. But money should not be your only focus.
If all you want out of your work is money, that is very shortsighted. You tell me that you want to work 8 hours a day 5-6 days a week for the next 20-60 years and the only thing you want out of your work is money? You mean, you want to invest all the time, all of that energy, all of your skills and the only thing you want is money? That is a very shortsighted view of what you want to get out of your work. What are you getting out of your work besides money?
b. Work brings prosperity.
Prosperity is something more than money. Prosperity means riches, comfort, plenty, welfare, good life etc. God wants to prosper us but prosperity will come only for those who work.
Proverbs 28:19 Those who work their land will have abundant food, but those who chase fantasies will have their fill of poverty.
c. Develop skills.
Proverbs 22:29 Do you see someone skilled in their work? They will serve before kings; they will not serve before officials of low rank. We work and develop our skills. All of us have been given particular skills in different areas of our life. When we work, we acquire skills and further enhance resulting in promotions etc and climb on our work ladder.
d. Develop our character.
God uses work as one of the primary instruments to develop our character. It is in the difficulties and the hardships of work that help develop our character. So develops character at work.
e. A sense of accomplishment.
When a project is completed there is a sense of accomplishment. When a teacher finishes one academic year, when you see your children graduating, it brings a sense of accomplishment in us. It does not happen if there is no work. The children of Israel dedicated their temple. That gave them a sense of accomplishment, something of value that they have worked and finished in life. Work completed brings a sense of joy in our own spirit that we have made a contribution.
f. A sense of progress.
No one wants to feel stagnant. We work and we then get a promotion or increment, it gives us a sense of progress in life. Something is taking place that we are progressing.
g. Develop relationships.
Work is an ideal place to develop good relationships. Many Christians feel that you have to work and just get back, don’t talk or relate to anyone. Our workplace is the prime place for us to show our true Christian nature and build healthy friendships sometimes to influence others or our development. Colossians 4:5-6 5Be wise in the way you act toward outsiders; make the most of every opportunity. 6Let your conversation be always full of grace, seasoned with salt, so that you may know how to answer everyone.
h. Builds self-esteem.
Self-esteem and self-worth are closely aligned with working,” says psychotherapist Charles Allen. Being employed helps you feel wanted and that you’re contributing to your finances, says psychotherapist Elizabeth Lombardo.
Psychotherapist Jonathan Alpert says a lot of unemployed people who are depressed. He describes the unemployed as usually feeling hopeless and helpless, their sense of identity greatly diminished. Employment provides a sense of purpose. Work builds a person’s self-esteem.
3. How to be an efficient employee?
Remember, wherever you are working is the will of God. God has allowed you to be there for a particular time and for a particular reason, so make the most of it.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves.. This begins with slaves. You say, “How can you apply that to me pastor. I am not a slave.” In Bible times, over half the people in Romans were slaves. Now some of these were doctors, teachers and in other professions but they were slaves. They belonged to someone. Slavery was not as we see it today and often times slaves were treated well but they belonged to someone.
In Bible times, slaves had different class according to their education like today we have maids, security, and managers at workplace. One of the responsibilities of the lowest slave in a household was to greet every person who came as a guest, take their sandals off, wash their feet clean, and put them back on. That was their responsibility. That person was a bond slave. That was the lowest form of work in the household. To that person and to all of the executive slaves, Apostle Paul says: Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything…
a. How to be efficient at work: View yourself as a servant.
We are to be obedient to those who are in authority over us at work. But there is only one limitation. Wherever you and I are required to violate our God-given conscience or to violate a principle in the Word of God, then we have a right to say no. But our approach should be in a way to win that person and also change their attitude.
Now turn with me to: Matthew 20:28 The Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.
Philippians 2:5-7 5In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: 6Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; 7rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness.
Now think about this: Jesus Christ was willing to come to earth and take upon himself the form of a servant and served his apostles, he washed their feet. God incarnate in the flesh came as a servant of man who would mistreat him, persecute him and ultimately crucify him.
When we go to work, take the form of a servant. As a Christian you and I gave up our rights in order to be a servant, and God will take care of our rights. He says we are to be in obedient to those who are in authority over us.
When you are willing to go to your work with spirit of a servant, you set the pathway to promotion in your area of work.
Matthew 20:26-27 26Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, 27and whoever wants to be first must be your slave.
Matthew 23:11 The greatest among you will be your servant.
You know what he is saying, “Whoever wants to be leader amongst you must first of all adopt the attitude of a servant and work as a servant.” If you want promotion, then work at your work in the attitude of being a servant.
What is it to be a servant? Do what Jesus did. Obey your seniors, encourage people around you, reach out to help your colleagues, finish your target on time. When you obey your master and accomplish your task you will be rewarded by God himself just like Jesus was exalted.
b. How to be efficient at work: Work as for the Lord.
Colossians 3:22 Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to curry their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord.
You get the most out of your work is when you recognize doing the work is for the Lord and not for men. Now here is one of the mistakes we make as Christians. We segment our life and say, “Over here is Sunday. That is when I worship the Lord. Monday to Friday is when I work. Saturday is my rest day.” The truth is God has never seen life that way. When you receive the Lord Jesus Christ as your personal savior, you cannot separate anything in your life. Here is my work, here is the church, here is my finances, and here is my family and that. What part of any of that do you want to exclude God from? Not any of it. You need God in your finances, in your family, in your work and home. The truth is you cannot separate and divide your life up and say work over here, pleasure here, God here you cannot do that.
Friend your job is your ministry. The idea of ministry only what we do at church is totally unscriptural. Ministry is what we are and what we do seven days a week. Sunday happens to be a day set apart for worship but the truth is we ought to be worshipping God every single day, we ought to be praising him every day and giving our best in whatever he has called us to do. When you consider you work as unto the Lord, your reward is far greater than those who are just working for a pay cheque.
Now Paul says when you do your work remember this is the Lord’s work. Do it with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. So when a believer views his work as unto the Lord:
No stealing or lying: We will not use our work time for our personal addenda. We will not call up boss telling we are sick when we are on a vacation.
No wasting work time: We will not play solitaire at work. You will not walk in late and leave early because you are working for the Lord. You are not watching the clock.
Productivity. High quality work. No half done jobs. Finish target on time.
When you work for the Lord, you know God is watching over you, you work the best you can. Then your job becomes more than a pay cheque. It is an offering to God
c. How to be efficient at work: View Christ as your authority.
Colossians 3:23-24 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
View Christ as our boss. Do your job as a servant and Jesus as your supervisor. So if you and I go to our work and if we recognize that Jesus Christ is our boss, no matter who the Lord has allowed to be in the position of your boss it does not make any difference. God is still the boss. When you can look beyond human flesh and see God as the real boss, your attitude to your boss is going to change because the truth is you are working for the Lord.
I know how tough and mean job can be sometimes. Then we have crafty colleagues and a tough boss. For a believer it does not make any difference if they are fair or not because Christ is the boss. Work with that in mind.
d. How to be efficient at work: Value your colleagues.
Colossians 4:1 Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.
1 Peter 2:17 Show proper respect for everyone.
All of us no matter who we are and who works with us or above us or below us, we should view everyone as a person of worth because God loves them. Therefore we should treat them in that fashion, justly and fairly. The truth is if we are to get the most out our work we must view others as persons of worth. God sees every person on the same level. So, you want to get the most out of your work, treat people fairly and justly.
e. How to be efficient at work: Understand you reward comes from the Lord.
Colossians 3:23-24 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.
When you see your work as unto the Lord and give your 100% to it, you will be rewarded abundantly. You say, “Pastor, I have been working hard but the promotion went to my colleague.” Remember, when you and I do our best at work, more than likely we are going to do things that the boss is never going to see. There are acts of kindness, going the second mile, giving it all for our work when we don’t feel like it. Do you realize that God is going to reward you for that? If you have been mistreated, not treated fairly or justly or somebody has paid you poorly, God is going to equalize all of that either here late or in the judgment at eternity.
Hebrews 6:10 God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. This applies to all kinds of work.
When you do your best and you work as unto the Lord, he says it would be absolutely unjust and unfair even for God to forget your work. God knows how many extra hours you put in. He knows how many times you have labored even when you did not feel like it or were sick. God will hold your boss accountable and God will reward you for your hard work.
Colossians 3:25 Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for their wrongs, and there is no favoritism.
Romans 14:8-12 8If we live, we live for the Lord; and if we die, we die for the Lord. So, whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord. 9For this very reason, Christ died and returned to life so that he might be the Lord of both the dead and the living. 10You, then, why do you judge your brother or sister? Or why do you treat them with contempt? For we will all stand before God’s judgment seat. 11It is written: “‘As surely as I live,’ says the Lord, ‘every knee will bow before me; every tongue will acknowledge God.’” 12So then, each of us will give an account of ourselves to God.
God is going to equalize what you and I missed. There are many here who work diligently, work hard, who never get any recognition, probably are paid unfairly. I am here to tell you God is going to equalize all that. If you are not careful you get bitter.
So, if you are bitter, under working, not giving you best, stealing because they are not paying you, you are going to lose your reward. God rewards us for our faithfulness, for every mistreatment, or underpayment. God is the one who is responsible for making it all right.
God is equally concerned about our work life or the business life as he is concerned about our spiritual life and personal private life. Since you spent the most time in your work, that is where a great scrutiny of God is in your life.
The believer has to have a servant spirit. Christ is the boss, the work is the Lord’s, and work as long as God gives us the freedom to do so. It is not easy to live a life like that but through Jesus you can live this life and God will honour your labour.