As we have seen, the book of Proverbs is intensely practical. Proverbs gives us the secret to being healthy spiritually, physically, and financially. This week, we will look at what Solomon says about work. “In all labor there is profit, but idle chatter leads only to poverty” (Prov. 14:23). Have you ever met that person who is all talk and no action? Solomon gives four motivations of why we work.
Proverbs 16:3 says, “Commit your works to the Lord, and your thoughts will be established.” God created us to be doers not just dreamers. We read in Genesis 2:2 that God rested from his work in creation. He is a worker. We also read that we were created to work. Genesis 2:15 says that God put Adam in the Garden of Eden to work. Ephesians 2:10 says we were “created in Christ Jesus to do good works.” Work is not sin or punishment. Work is good. It existed before the fall. Under the curse of sin it is harder, but it is still good. Some people have the idea that those who really love God go into full-time ministry or to serve on the mission field. The truth is, in every vocation we are called to serve God. Martin Luther promoted a Protestant work ethic. He believed all work is divinely ordained. He hated the laity-clergy division, the idea that priests, nuns, and monks were engaged in holier work than housewives and farmers. “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord…” (Col. 3:23). God is more concerned with the how than the what.
“The appetite of laborers works for them; their hunger drives them on” (Prov. 16:26). Another reason we work is so we can eat! 2 Thessalonians 3:10 says, “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” No one owes you a free meal! The issue is not being able to work but not being willing to work. God always has made provision for those who cannot work. In Proverbs 6:6-8, Solomon uses the ant as an example. Ants never sit still. They are always moving, getting food, and saving food. Hunger is God’s way of saying get a job! Get a life! As Christians we should never arrive late to work or leave early. We shouldn’t wait on someone to tell us what to do. We should be self-starters and take initiative. We need to teach our kids responsibility and a good work ethic. We need to model for them what it looks like to work a full week and then take a day of sabbath rest.
“Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life…” (John 6:27). We work to eat, but also work for kingdom purposes. There are so many promises in Scripture for those who are generous. Good will come to them (Ps. 112:5), their children will be a blessing (Ps. 37:26), they will prosper (Prov. 11:25), they will be blessed (Prov. 22:9), etc. Are you generous to those around you? Are you generous with your work and your earnings? Jesus said, “It is more blessed to give than to receive.”
In the Great Commission, Jesus says, “Go… I am with you always” (Matt. 28:19-20). That means, when you go to work, He is with you. “Always” means always. Many in the Bible leveraged their vocation for the Kingdom. Joseph was in upper management. He managed the food supply for Egypt. Daniel was in the President’s administration. He was an advisor to the King. Paul was in the RV/mobile home business. He was a tentmaker. Peter was a fisherman. Jesus was a carpenter. God wants to use your work to advance the Kingdom. We show the excellence of God when we do our work with excellence. We show the love of God when we love the people we work with. We show the holiness of God when we do our work with integrity. We show the preeminence and priority of God when we honor the Lord with our tithes and firstfruits. We show the goodness of God when we are generous. Your work does not have to be boring, it can be a blessing when it is done for Jesus!