A Theology of Work in 50 Scriptural Observations

  1. 1 God is the first worker.
  2. 1 God’s work requires mental activity and planning.
  3. 1 Completed work pleased God.
  4. 1 As a worker, God is detail-oriented.
  5. 1:28 Work came before sin.
  6. 1:28 Man is given authority and responsibility to control the world by discovering all of the secrets God placed in the earth.
  7. 1:28 Under God, man rules the world—the rest of creation is not equal to him.
  8. Genesis 2:15, 18 Farming is the first job given to man in the Bible.
  9. Genesis 2:15, 18 God wants man to understand and document every part of His Creation.
  10. 2:20 Women were given to men because the man’s work would require all his ability.
  11. 3:16-19 Work became difficult as a result of sin.
  12. 3:16-19 Men are expected to sweat as a reminder of the hardness brought into life by sin.
  13. 3:16-19 The essence of masculinity is summarized in this first statement of manhood as a responsibility to labor intensely.
  14. 20:9 God gave the Sabbath day of rest because He expected men to work 6 days per week.
  15. 4:6 Men with a work ethic (a wholehearted mindset to work) accomplish much.
  16. 6:6-10 Lazy people are fools; hard workers are wise.
  17. 6:6-10 God has programmed His amoral creation to be examples of work.
  18. 6:6-10 Planning is a part of hard work.
  19. 10:4; 12:11; 13:4; et. al. Hard work produces wealth; poverty comes from a bad work ethic.
  20. 22:29 Hard workers will eventually be recognized.
  21. 24:30-34 Laziness produces poverty and ugliness.
  22. 24:30-34 A lazy man’s house places his culture on display.
  23. 31:13-27 The model woman is known by her hard work.
  24. 31:15 The model woman gets up early in order to work.
  25. 5:18-19 Labor is the tool God has ordained to provide man with physical pleasures.
  26. 5:18-19 Men can take pleasure in the labor itself, in accomplishing hard tasks.
  27. 20:1-8 The work day in Jesus’ lifetime was assumed to be 12 hours.
  28. 25:14-30 Jesus sanctions work by comparing earthly work with the spiritual world in his parables. (See also Matt. 20:1-14 and 21:28-31)
  29. 25:14-30 Jesus sanctions business, trading, and making a profit in his parables and sermons.
  30. John 8:29 Jesus always worked to please His Father.
  31. John 9:4 A sense of urgency followed Jesus in His work.
  32. John 17:4 Jesus did not stop until the work was done.
  33. Acts 6:4 God recognizes mental activity as labor.
  34. Acts 28:3 Paul was humble enough to do menial, manual labor.
  35. 13:8 If I would owe nothing to any man, then my life must be marked by personal responsibility.
  36. 1 Cor. 7:24 Each man must honor God in the specific situation in which he has been placed.
  37. 1 Cor. 9:7-14 Work is valuable; it must be paid.
  38. 1 Cor. 9:7-14 Biblical pastoral ministry should be supported by Christians who have jobs.
  39. 4:28 Hard work is the opposite of stealing.
  40. 4:28 Christians should labor to be rich so that they can give generously.
  41. 4:28 If a man receives a benefit for which he is not willing to work, he is stealing.
  42. 6:4 Fathers have a responsibility to teach their children how to work.
  43. 3:22-24 The way Christians work for their earthly employer is an act of worship to God.
  44. 3:22-24 An employer has authority over an employee.
  45. 2 Thess. 3:10 Lazy people forfeit their right to eat.
  46. 2 Thess. 3:10-14 Laziness is a sin that may deserve church discipline.
  47. 1 Tim. 5:17 Pastors are expected to work hard mentally.
  48. 2:5 Women are told to be “keepers at home” which necessarily means that men will be workers.
  49. 2 Pet. 1:10 Individuals must take personal responsibility in their individual callings to gain certainty that they have been elected.
  50. 22:3 Work is such a good thing, it will go on for all eternity as one more method of glorifying God.

If we wanted to cluster all these truths into one term, it would be the Protestant work ethic which has been responsible for the vast wealth of America and other countries heavily influenced by Christianity. (See Max Weber’s The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism, originally 1906.) Elton Trueblood wrote, “Not many areas of human behavior have been more radically affected by the Christian gospel than that of daily toil. Wherever the gospel has been truly influential the concept of the dignity of work has emerged.” Pagan religions either enshrine laziness as a cultural virtue or they borrow from the glory properly belonging only to Christianity.

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