Theme of the Week: Work as Divine Calling
Bible Verse: The eyes of the Lord are in every place, keeping watch on the evil and the good. Proverbs 15:3
Scripture Reading: Genesis 1:27-28
The concept of a work ethic goes all the way back to the book of beginnings—Genesis.
We see in Genesis that God is a God who works. He created the world in six days and rested from his work on the seventh day. When God created man he made us in his own image and likeness; that is, we share some of his attributes. One way in which we resemble God is that, like him, we are to engage in work.
The biblical work ethic was established when God commanded Adam to subdue the earth (Genesis 1:27–28) and to “work” the garden (Genesis 2:15). The Bible shows us that work is not a curse, nor is it a product of sin, but rather it was given to man as a blessing—even before Adam and Eve sinned. Yes, the curse has made our work harder.
There are now thorns and thistles and we work the ground by the sweat of our brow (Genesis 3:18–19). But work itself is not part of the curse, rather it is a calling and blessing from God. Therefore, we should pursue our work with faithfulness and vigor in order to bring glory to the One who gave us this calling. This is the heart of the biblical work ethic.
But that ethic has fallen on rough times in America. As James Patterson and Peter Kim pointed out as far back as 1991: [The] Protestant [work] ethic is long gone from today’s American workplace. Workers around America frankly admit that they spend more than 20 percent (seven hours a week) of their time at work totally goofing off. That amounts to a four-day work week across the nation.1
This, mind you, was before the widespread use of the internet. Today, of course, there are countless ways in which workers can use the internet to be very busy yet completely unproductive. There are even websites that make a mockery of employment, with names like Ishouldbeworking.com and Boredatwork.com2 . A 2003 study found that 23 million American workers are “actively disengaged” from their work. Clearly, as a whole, the US has largely abandoned the biblical view of work.
The work ethic established in Genesis is also a major emphasis in the book of Proverbs. A Proverbs-driven life is one that works hard for the glory of God. Embodying a biblical work ethic, and seeing work as truly a calling from God, is a core part of our purpose.
1 James Patterson and Peter Kim, The Day America Told the Truth (New York: Prentice Hall Press, 1991).
2 Cited in the article The Rise of Workplace Slackers by Al Lewis of The Denver Post. A summary of this article appeared in the periodical The Week on June 23, 2006, page 46.
Taken from A Proverbs Driven Life by Anthony Selvaggio, © 2008. Used by permission of Shepherd Press, shepherdpress.com
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