Work in Its Proper Perspective

by Gene Taylor

For a man to be a Christian, both the responsibility to provide for a family and to be a husband and father to a family are sacred duties. To neglect either of these obligations is to jeopardize one's soul with eternal consequences. Yet, many males in our society, even those who claim to be Christians, have problems not only in assuming their proper, God-given roles but also in implementing them. To many their primary focus and their identity is their work. When someone asks them, "What are you?" they answer, "I'm a carpenter," "I'm a truck driver," "I'm a teacher," etc. Since we place so much emphasis on our work, we need to understand what the Bible teaches concerning it.

Work Is Honorable

From the beginning of time, work has been an integral part of the human life. Even in the Garden of Eden, God gave Adam work to do (Gen. 2:15; 3:17-18). The apostle Paul reminded the Thessalonians to "work with your own hands, as we commanded you" (I Thes. 4:11). God views as "disorderly" every man who refuses to work and provide for his needs. The Christian is even to "avoid" such a person (2 Thes.3:6-13). You see, the one who refuses to work to provide for his own is, in reality, worse than an infidel or unbeliever (1 Timothy 5:4,8).

Christians are to be dedicated workers who labor with singleness of heart as unto the Lord and not as eyepleasers of men (Eph. 6:5-8; Col. 3:22-25). Solomon wisely wrote in the book of Ecclesiastes that one should learn to enjoy the fruit of his labor and make his soul rejoice in work (2:24; 3:13). Keep in mind, though, work is honorable only when that in which one labors is good. The world provides many immoral occupations from which a Christian must abstain (Eph. 4:28).

Work Can Be Abused

A Christian who takes a job should realize he is there to work (Eph. 6:5-8). He is not present to loaf, tell jokes, discuss sports, flirt with secretaries, etc. A Christian, as already stated, is to work as if he is working for the Lord. In his work he is not to compromise the principles of Christ but he is to be faithful in all things, always adorning the doctrine of Christ (Titus 2:9-10).

Covetousness or greed must never be a Christian's motive for working. Jesus cited the example of the rich fool to show how foolish it is for one to make the amassing of "things" his goal in life (Luke 12:13-21). Success in life is not measured by the abundance of the things one possesses. Those who are greedy and covetous fall into temptation and a snare (1 Tim. 6:6-19). It is no secret that where one's treasure is that is where his heart will be (Matt. 6:19-24).

The priorities of every Christian must be God's kingdom, His righteousness and the things from above. This is stated in numerous passages of Scripture. Matthew 6:33 commands us to seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness. Colossians 3:1-2 tells the Christian to set his mind on things above. Matthew 6:25 reminds us all that life is more than food and the body is more than clothing.

Abuses of Work Today

There is an abuse of work in our society. On one hand there are those who refuse to work and expect the rest of society to take care of them. On the other hand, "workaholics" are so driven by their work that they neglect their wives, children and spiritual obligations.

The key to solving the problem is to get a proper perspective of the role of work and then to establish the correct priorities. The kingdom of heaven and the will of our Father must always come first. Obligations to family cannot be neglected. Greed must be cast aside. Balance between work and all other aspects of one's life must be sought.