Does work matter in the Bible? What does the Bible even say about the topic of work? The answers to these questions are foundational to our faith at work journey. You might be surprised to find out just how prominent work actually is in the Bible. You may be equally surprised at how much God uses work.
Work is a primary means God uses to bring about His will and His plans for mankind. Once we recognize it, it becomes clear that it is everywhere from Genesis to Revelation.
Major Ideas of Work in the Bible
The Bible has a lot to say about work. The Bible speaks directly to how we should work and even provides countless examples for us to follow. The Bible includes many different types of work, ranging from manual labor and household duties to teaching, managing, and leading.
Many overarching work-related themes are found in the Bible – here are just a few:
- God works through people and partners with them in their work
- God uses the work of His people to accomplish His will
- God uses work to shape and develop people
- God doesn’t waste anything when it comes to the work of people and the circumstances of their lives
- God uses the work of people to extend His Kingdom on earth and expand His influence
These important work-related ideas, along with many others, are found throughout the whole of Scripture.
Work in the Old Testament
The Bible begins with a description of the work God did in creation and points to God as a worker. Did you know that the first words God said to His created man and woman together were directions to do work?
Since God is a worker and we are made in His image, when we work, we are putting God’s nature on display.
It is fascinating to note that work existed before sin entered the world. While the fall of man and sin brought a curse upon the earth and changed human’s experience of work, the nature of work remained good.
The Old Testament includes examples of massive work, such as Noah building the Ark, and Moses leading the people of Israel out of Egypt. It also includes smaller work, like pouring oil into jars or baking bread. And we can’t forget the important work of the priests, prophets, judges and kings.
Joseph and Daniel stand as incredible examples of what it is to work for God and in partnership with Him. Have you thought about how everything they did was working with God?
Proverbs, Psalms, and Ecclesiastes give practical advice when it comes to work and applying God’s wisdom to daily life.
Work in the New Testament
Work and the marketplace played significant roles in the Gospels. The disciples were not pulled from the religious leadership of the time. Jesus found them in the marketplace where they were doing everyday work. The Gospels were written by workers, including a medical doctor, a tax collector and a fisherman.
The Rabbi’s at the time were expected to learn a trade to support themselves while they taught students. Paul was a tentmaker and Jesus was a carpenter.
Paul wrote about the basic expectations of work, including the importance of doing our work for God and not for man. He even warned the Thessalonians against idleness and went so far as to say that those who were unwilling to work should not eat.
Have you noticed that much of the apostle’s ministry activity was done in the marketplace?
Many of the parables of Jesus were related to work and included different types of work, such as management, farming, gardening, construction and shepherding.
Summing it Up
The prominence of the topic of work in the Bible speaks to its significance. The Bible contains work found in all segments of society, including: education, religion, family, business, government, arts, entertainment, and media.
From beginning to end, the Bible clearly reveals the sanctity and dignity of work. Work is found within the Creator Himself and humanity is called to continue God’s work on earth.
What About Today?
The breadth of work in the Bible has clear implications for today.
Can you see the significance of work in the Bible? Can you see the pattern of how God works together in partnership with people?
What do you think about the prominence of work in the Bible? How does what you see in the Bible about work affect how you see the work you do? Will you engage God in your work this week?