W ORK ETHIC – A value system or belief that WORK, hard WORK and diligence have a moral benefit and an inherent ability or virtue to strengthen character. Notice the terms used in the definition of WORK ETHIC that are used in Scripture: Value, Belief, WORK, Diligence, Moral, Benefit, Virtue, Strengthen, and Character. It is no wonder that the Bible speaks of WORK and a WORK ETHIC numerous times in both Testaments.
When we consider the subject of WORK, instead of looking at it as a dreaded chore or curse, we need to remember that it was part of God’s original plan for man. He placed man in the garden to “tend and keep it”. (Gen 2:15). God has placed in us both the capacity and the desire to be PRODUCTIVE. Our stay on this earth is limited so we ought to DO the most we can during our time under the sun. Here are four passages that provide basic teaching on the subject of WORK.
Neh 4:6 – “So we built the wall, and the entire wall was joined together up to half its height, for the people had a MIND TO WORK”. Nehemiah gives the Biblical definition of a WORK ETHIC.
Ps 104:23 – “Man goes out to his WORK and to his LABOR until the evening”. The Psalmist states the orderly cycle of life that God established.
Matt 25:26 – “But his lord answered and said to him ‘You wicked and LAZY SERVANT, you knew that I reap where I have not sown, and gather where I have not scattered seed”. Christ Himself condemned laziness.
II Thess 3:11-12, 14-15. “For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, NOT WORKING at all, but are busybodies. Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they WORK in quietness and eat their own bread..And if anyone does not obey our word in this epistle, note that person and do not keep company with him, that he may be ashamed. Yet do not count him as an enemy but admonish him as a brother”. Paul writes that the church cannot support a LAZY person; that NOT WORKING is a sin; and one who WILL NOT WORK must be Scripturally disciplined.
Let us focus our thoughts on WORK and WORK ETHIC from the Book of Proverbs which reveals the wisdom of God, like no other, through the wise man Solomon.
The Virtues of WORK
- Profit – “In all LABOR there is PROFIT, but idle chatter leads only to poverty”. (Prov. 14:23). In other words, talk is cheap. It’s easy to become so distracted by planning and dreaming about our goals that the WORK of accomplishing then never gets done. Christians should always be willing to expend the EFFORT and WORK necessary to reach worthwhile goals.
- Motivation – “A WORKER’S appetite WORKS for him, for his hunger URGES him on”. (Prov. 16:26). God created man with certain natural motivators such as hunger so that he would sustain himself with food. The term URGES is also translated DRIVES or SPURS and has the idea of PRESSING HARD to complete the task. Practically speaking; when WORK becomes toilsome and boring, the need of food for one’s self and one’s family will keep a man’s hand to the plow.
- Self-Sufficiency – “Be DILIGENT to know the state of your flocks, and ATTEND to your herds.; For riches are not forever, nor does a crown endure to all generations.. The lambs will provide your clothing, and your goats the price of a field; You shall have enough goats milk for your food, for the food of your household, and the nourishment of your maidservants”. (Prov. 27:23- 27).These verses provide the most basic of all Economic lessons – Take Care of What is Yours and It Will Take Care of You! Every businessman understands that if you take care of your product inventory, manage your assets, and take care of your employees, they will help take care of you.
- Financial Independence – “He who has a SLACK HAND becomes POOR, but the hand of the DILIGENT makes RICH. He who GATHERS in summer is a wise son; He who SLEEPS in harvest is a son who causes SHAME”. (Prov. 10:4-5). Solomon spoke of Financial Independence long before Prudential, Fidelity, New York Life, or anyone else even thought about it. LAZINESS is tied to POVERTY while DILIGENT WORK is tied to WEALTH.
- Good Reputation – “Do you see a man who EXCELS in his WORK? He will stand before kings. He will not stand before unknown men. (Prov. 22:29). Being known as a PROFICIENT and HARD WORKING person speaks volumes about one’s character, and their DILIGENCE does not go unnoticed. These traits will be recognized and rewarded. A man who will not WORK and support his family is called TRIFLING or WORTHLESS.
The Life of the LAZY Man
LAZINESS or a lack of PRODUCTIVITY is universally condemned in the Proverbs. As God intended, WORK is revered while IDLENESS is regarded as SIN against oneself and society. Solomon warns us of THE SLUGGARD and his ways.
- He Makes Excuses – “The LAZY man says, ‘There is a lion outside. I shall be slain in the streets”. (Prov. 22:13) Here the image of a LAZY man is laughable with his ridiculous excuse to not WORK.
- He is Shameful – “The Lord will not allow the righteous to hunger, but He will reject the craving of the wicked. He who GATHERS in summer is a son who acts wisely, but he who SLEEPS in harvest is a son who acts SHAMEFULLY”. (Prov. 10:3,5). LAZINESS is an issue of morality, practicality, and attitude.
- He is Needy – “The desire of the LAZY man kills him, for his hands REFUSE TO LABOR. He covets greedily all day long, but the righteous gives and does not spare”. (Prov. 21:25-26). It is easy to see why the SLUGGARD has nothing except desire and covetousness. Because of his LAZINESS, he expects his necessities to come from the kindness of others which make him a burden to them.
- He is Disgusting – “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the LAZY ONE to those who send him”. (Prov. 10:26). The LAZY, UNTRUSTWORTHY servant is an irritant to his master who will come to resent his servant.
The Proverbs Admonition to the LAZY MAN is Look to Nature
“Go to the ANT, you SLUGGARD! Consider her ways and be wise, which, having no captain, overseer, or ruler, PROVIDES her supplies in the summer, and GATHERS her food in he harvest. How long will you SLUMBER, O SLUGGARD? When you rise from your SLEEP? A little SLEEP, a little SLUMBER, a little folding of the hands to SLEEP; So shall your POVERTY come on you like a prowler, and your NEED like an armed man”.