Scriptures teach there is value to hard work...
1.) Because it will bring profit
Proverbs 14:23 says, “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” The Bible teaches that our work is not in vain. The truth that hard work brings profit is a fundamentally accepted truth in capitalistic system. A marketable skill will not go unrewarded in a free market.
2.) Because it will get you hired
When you work hard and become very skilled at something, it will not go unnoticed or unrewarded. Someone will pay you to use that skill. Proverbs 22:29 says, “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men.” Becoming skilled at a trade will pay off.
3.) Because it will give you freedom
Proverbs 12:24 “Diligent hands will rule, but laziness ends in slave labor.” When people work hard and are rewarded in a capitalistic system it creates a middle class that wields the ruling power of a democratic system. When a society becomes lazy and expects entitlements it will lead it back into a society of rich elite and a working lower class. When you depend on the government to provide for you rather than your own hard work, you will give up your freedom and profit for the pseudo-security of impoverished welfare state.
Communism and socialism are the repeatedly failed models. They are merely feudalism reborn with the “state” as the tyrant rather than a king. America’s puritan work ethic helped it to forge the most robust economy in the world with more opportunity and wealth to more of its citizens than any in human history. There is value to a good work ethic.
But the Bible also warns against the wrong motive for your work ethic. This is where many have wandered from Biblical truth into the idolatry of greed and given capitalism a bad name.
4.) Not For Riches
Seeking wealth for wealth’s sake is vain and evil. Proverbs 23:4 “Do not wear yourself out to get rich; have the wisdom to show restraint.” We have all seen people who allow greed to take control. They work their way up the corporate ladder to earn more and more money but in the process destroy their marriage and ignore their children. They end up divorced, alienated from their children whose love they couldn’t buy, and dead of a heart attack at 49 due to the stress of work.
5.) Not for Greed
Gullible greedy gamblers are robbed of their money in the lottery, casinos, and get rich schemes each day. Proverbs 28:20 “A faithful man will be richly blessed, but one eager to get rich will not go unpunished.” A desire to be rich for the sake of just being rich is an evil that God will not leave unpunished. Our work ethic must not be based on a desire to just hoard away money for ourselves. If greed is the main motive for your work ethic, punishment is your fate.
Not for MoneyMoney is a tool not a treasure. Money is a means to an end, not the end itself. The question of motive is major. If you want money, the question is why?Is it because you love money and want to possess it? 1 Timothy 6:10 “For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil. Some people, eager for money, have wandered from the faith and pierced themselves with many griefs.” Many a person has found riches but not happiness. Many a person has worked because of a love of money and pierced themselves with many griefs as they miss the deeper, richer, eternal blessings of life.
So Why Should We Work Hard?
1.) For your food
2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 “For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.”
We are to earn the bread we eat. It’s not right to not earn our way. We have not right to food, housing, health care, or clothing. The first reason we should work hard is to meet our own needs. If we wont’ work then we have no right to eat.
2.) For the needy
Ephesians 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
The second motive to work hard is to have extra to share with those in need. The fact is that there are natural disasters, widows and orphans, and evil economic systems governed by tyrants which create poverty. Some are poor because of circumstance they could not control. Some are poor due to a lack of education and training. Some are poor because of ungodly cultural norms. Some are poor because they were never taught a work ethic. Some are poor due to their own greed. Some are poor due to substance abuse. It makes not difference how they got that way. Jesus has called us to help the poor. There are also those who are spiritually poor. They need to hear the gospel of Christ. They extra money we have left after our needs are fulfilled should be going to those in need, what ever the reason.
3.) For respect
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 “Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.”
This verse reinforces the first reason we gave to work by pointing out that we shouldn’t be dependent on others for our needs. But it also points out our third reason to work hard. We want to win the respect of non-Christians so we can win them to Christ. If you are don’t have a good work ethic you can’t win the respect of those you have been called to influence for Christ. If you are a lethargic, unmotivated or lazy person you will be stench in the nostrils of your boss and co-workers. Proverbs 10:26 says, “As vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is a sluggard to those who send him.”
4.) For the Lord
Colossians 3:22-24 “Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.”
We know there are greater rewards than large 401k’s. We know there is a more eternal purpose than earthly riches. We know we have a higher boss than our manager at work. We work not just when our boss is watching but even when our boss is not watching because ultimately all we do if for Jesus. We are working for the Lord’s purposes not ours. We are working for heavenly blessings not earthly treasure. We are working to please our loving father not our earthly boss. We have a secure eternal inheritance not uncertainty stock market riches. We realize that whatever we do should be done for God’s glory not ours. We realize that we should work with all our heart because we are serving God.
You don’t work for General Motors. You work for God. You don’t’ work for Procter and Gamble. You don’t work for the Federal Government. You work for the Lord. You don’t work for Chrysler, Ford, or Toyota. You work for the King of Kings. You don’t work for you, for wealth, for greed, for covetousness, or materialism. You work for God.
All that we do is before him. Nothing escapes his notice. All that we do should be for his glory. If we are a factory worker, we should be the best factory worker possible for his glory. If we are a teacher, we should do our best for his glory. If we are a plumber, we should work with all our heart for God’s glory. If we are a manager, we should work diligently for our Lord and savior. What ever we do, we should do it 100% for him.
And we should do it with gratitude not greed. We should do it with humility not haughtiness. We should do it gladly not begrudgingly. We should do it all in the authority or name of Jesus. By his power we are blessed with our jobs. We should be thankful for our daily food. We should be content with our wages. We should realize that hard work will pay off. It will provide our needs. It will allow us to help the needy. It will win the respect of outsiders we want to win to Christ. And it will bring glory to our loving Lord. Colossians 3:17 says, “And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him.”