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What does the Bible say about work?

Friday, July 27, 2018
man taking notes

A couple of weeks ago I had coffee with Al, who has been involved with the Theology of Work project. Their group has produced many helpful tools which demonstrate the value that God places on work – not only for God Himself but for all of His creation. The following is from the Theology of Work website 15 Bible Verses About Work.

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What does the Bible say about work? How should Christians work? Believe it or not, there are 859 Bible passages that relate to work. Here are 15 verses about work, with snippets from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary, to give you hope that your daily work has value. Whatever your job is, may these verses encourage you.

1. Genesis 1:28

"God blessed them, and God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth.'"

What this Bible verse says about work: God created humanity to work alongside him. Our work fills the earth with good things: products and services, knowledge and beauty, organizations and communities, and glory for God.

2. Genesis 2:15

"The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to till it and keep it."

What this Bible verse says about work: God gave Adam and Eve specific work to do, both physical work (gardening) and cultural/scientific/intellectual work (naming the animals). All the work we do is rooted in God's design for humanity.


3. Genesis 3:17

"Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten of the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,' cursed is the ground because of you; in toil you shall eat of it all the days of your life."

What this Bible verse says about work: Adam's and Eve's sin makes the work we were created to do more difficult. God still provides for us through our work, but it takes more effort. Work itself isn't a curse, but a gift from God that's essential after the Fall.

More on Genesis 3:17 from The Theology of Work Bible Commentary...

4. Deuteronomy 5:13-14

"Six days you shall labor and do all your work. But the seventh day is a sabbath to the Lord your God; you shall not do any work—you, or your son or your daughter, or your male or female slave, or your ox or your donkey, or any of your livestock, or the resident alien in your towns, so that your male and female slave may rest as well as you."

What this Bible verse says about work: Rest is a privilege from God that requires the trust that we'll survive without constant labor. The fourth commandment does not explain how God will make a cycle of rest work out. It simply says we should rest and let others rest too.


5. Ruth 2:7

"She said, ‘Please, let me glean and gather among the sheaves behind the reapers.' So she came, and she has been on her feet from early this morning until now, without resting even for a moment."

What this Bible verse says about work: Even when her life collapsed, Ruth chose productive work over despair. She went to work despite no assurance it would provide for her family, and God made it work out in the end. God's faithfulness underlies human productivity, but we have to do the actual work.

More on Ruth 2 from the Theology of Work Bible Commentary…

6. Psalm 90:17

"Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and prosper for us the work of our hands— O prosper the work of our hands!"

What this Bible verse says about work: Work is difficult, and we need God's help to get good results. Ultimately, God will work out his purposes through our work.

More on Psalm 90 in this Theology of Work video…

7. Psalm 104:24-30

"O Lord, how manifold are your works! O Lord, how manifold are your works!… the earth is full of Your creatures... These all look to You. O give them their food in due season... When You send forth Your spirit, they are created; and You renew the face of the ground."

What this Bible verse says about work: God's work did not end with creation. God continues working to this day, sustaining the world and all life in it.


8. Proverbs 16:3

"Commit your work to the Lord, and your plans will be established."

What this Bible verse says about work: The Book of Proverbs offers wisdom that transforms human character to be more God's. Through Proverbs' advice we become more trustworthy, diligent, shrewd, generous, and humble. Practice this wisdom and trust God to take care of the outcome.


9. Ecclesiastes 3:22

"There is nothing better than that all should enjoy their work, for that is their lot."

What this Bible verse says about work: Work often feels frustrating and futile. We are finite beings with limited ability, foresight, and knowledge. But God turns our limits into a blessing. Since we can't control the future, we need only be content with our work today.


10. Mark 6:3

"Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary and brother of James and Joses and Judas and Simon, and are not his sisters here with us?"

What this Bible verse says about work: Jesus did ordinary work – the same labor of his earthly father Joseph. Jesus lived in the real world, not some magical Bible world where everything is perfect. Jesus worked a real job like many of us work today.


11. John 5:17

"My Father is still working, and I also am working."

What this Bible verse says about work: God is still at work to maintain the present creation. Jesus demonstrates the Father's work through acts of healing.


12. Acts 6:2-4

"And the twelve called together the whole community of the disciples and said, "It is not right that we should neglect the word of God in order to wait on tables. Therefore, friends, select from among yourselves seven men of good standing, full of the Spirit and of wisdom, whom we may appoint to this task, while we, for our part, will devote ourselves to prayer and to serving the word."

What this Bible verse says about work: The Greek verb diakoneō is used in this passage for both "waiting" on tables and "serving" the word as the apostles do. One form of service isn't better or more spiritual than the other. The community depends on food servers as much as on ministers.


13. Colossians 3:23

"Whatever your task, put yourselves into it, as done for the Lord and not for your masters."

What this Bible verse says about work: God is your boss, the one to whom you are ultimately accountable. Doing work for the Lord means working diligently and treating others according to biblical standards.


14. Philippians 4:13

"I can do all things through Him who strengthens me."

What this Bible verse says about work: Look to the interests of others first. This might sound impossible in the workplace, but it is attainable through God who works in and through people.


15. Revelation 18:11

"The merchants of the earth weep and mourn for her, since no one buys their cargo anymore."

What this Bible verse says about work: Economics is a moral issue. Sinful Babylon, in which work goes to waste, is contrasted with the prosperous city of New Jerusalem where working with God is a joy.




Larry Sharp, Director of Training, IBEC Ventures

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