We Need a Theology of Work

One of the areas of life in which believers most mirror unbelievers is in our thinking about work. We want to avoid it. We long for the day when it’s over, whether that means the weekend (short-term) or retirement (long-term). We hate Mondays. We love Fridays. We complain about our schedules, our work environments, and our bosses.

We need to give more thought to a theology of work. Scripture teaches that work was pre-fall (Gen 2:15). It’s a good and honorable thing—an image of God thing—not a punishment, albeit it was made more difficult by the fall (Gen 3:17-19). Physical toil was joyfully undertaken by godly people throughout biblical history, including the brilliant Apostle Paul and even our Lord Jesus Christ (1 Thes 2:9; Mark 6:3). And working with a godly attitude is a significant part of our testimony before the lost (1 Thes 4:11-12). Those are just a few of the many lessons Scripture teaches about a distinctly Christian work ethic.

Pastors, we need to think rightly about work, and we need to help our congregations do the same. Listening to “Pleasing God with Our Work,” a sermon by Dave Doran, would be a good place to start.

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9 Responses

  1. I agree. It’s all too easy to slip into a lazy mindset, yet when reading scripture we’re all too often compelled to redeem the time for the days are evil and other such statements. A return to a Christian work ethic would be a good thing.

  2. Ugh. Things would be a lot better if you just stuck to writing about the Doctrines of Grace. It would be a lot more uplifting. But, hey, it’s all good. Tomorrow is Friday :)

  3. Chris, I love work. I could watch it for hours! Seriously, I actually enjoy work. Call me weird – I can take it. Work is a huge part of what the Lord has for us in this life. And hating Mondays?! That’s hating 1/7 of your life. Life is short enough already to hate huge segments of it like Mondays, work time, etc. Maybe the key is finding something that you enjoy doing. Thanks for the call to return to a Scriptural work ethic.

  4. Hi, Brian, Andrew, and Rob. Thanks for chiming in.

    Now, why aren’t you working??? :)

  5. Its funny you mention this. My pastor mentioned this very same thing a few weeks ago during a sermon on Sunday morning. He was going over the concept of thanksgiving/thankfulness. Being a very tight knit congregation, he called on one of the members like he does just about every service.

    It went something like this:

    Pastor: “Tyrel, are you thankful God gave you that job last week?”

    Tyrel: “Yes, pastor!”

    Pastor: “So why do you hate going into work on Monday mornings?”

    Tyrel: ………………………………….

    Pastor: “Shouldn’t you be going to work with a smile on your face and joy in your heart because God has provided you with a way to provide for your family?”

    Tyrel: “Yes, pastor.”

    My first thought on hearing this was “thats pretty funny.” But then it hit me like a brick right between the eyes. There are a ton of things about my job that I do not enjoy, but it is the job God has seen fit to give me and it must be done in a God pleasing manner because thats what will bring Him glory.

  6. Chris,

    We just laid off 93 people where I work. I personally lost 2 single mothers from my group. Bet they’d love to be working. Conversely, maybe our tendancy to complain, or our jealousy of people we think “have it made,” or our constant dissatisfaction with our current station in life creates that dread of mondays. I’ve been constantly challenging myself with Phil. 4 (esp. vs. 11). God wants us to enjoy him (and through him, our own lives) today. That’s tough to do if we’re constantly looking forward to getting a new job, or retiring, or the weekend. Praise the Lord for something constructive to do.

    BTW, I’m on vacation all next week. YIPPEEEE!!!

  7. 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.”

    Provide for self so that others do not need to care for you … and provide for others.

    I’ve been workings for 46 years (since age of 14). I was fired from one job (for goofing off (in college)). I learned a lesson from that.

    In these hard times (my company is laying people off), one has to appreciate having a job!

  8. Chris, here are some quotes I have come across in my reading regarding Christians and work. Food for thought if nothing else.

    “There is no secular/sacred distinction, for all honest work done for the Lord is sacred.” – Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly Man, p151

    “Christians should always do good work. Christians ought to be the best workers wherever they are. They ought to have the best attitude, the best integrity, and be the best in dependability.” – Kent Hughes, Disciplines of a Godly man, page 154

    “Do you know why some Christians have no testimony in the workplace where they work? It is because they are lazy loafers. When there is work to be done, the boss has to come and hunt them up.” – Bud Lyles, “Good but lost…bad but saved” sermon

    I think when it comes down to it, our view of work is directly related to our view of God. Practical living reflects theology. If we view God properly and seek to truly love him and glorify him in everything we do, then we will not have as difficult time with our work. I have not listened to Doran’s message, yet, but I plan to. Thanks for your hard work for the Lord both in your church and on M2C.

  9. […] pastor thinks we need a theology of work. Hmm. Good […]

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