A Handbook of Bible Law - Labor & work

Copyright 1991 by Charles A. Weisman. 2nd Edition: Aug., 1992; 3rd Edition: Dec., 1994

Labor & work

Comments: One of the main duties God bestowed upon man is to do work. When Adam was placed in Eden, God assigned a job for him to perform-"to dress and to keep the garden " (Gen. 2:15). We thus see that even in Paradise man must work, it was never the intent that he be idle upon this earth.

When God expelled Adam from Eden He had told Adam that he would have to toil and work all the days of his life to maintain his existence or livelihood (Gen. 3:17-19). It appears that Adam was required to work the land to sustain himself, just as Noah did after the Flood (Gen. 9:20). The land must be worked if man is to sustain himself and so it has been for man since that time.

The Bible puts considerable emphasis on the need and importance for man to engage in work; and the manner in which it condemns the lazy and slothful person, by itself, illustrates this point. Laziness causes bondage, hardship, poverty, and a loss of property. Thus the two basic points the Bible conveys regarding industry and labor are:

1). The need and dignity of work,

2). Honest labor has its reward.

It should be of interest to note that the Fourth Commandment is just as much a command to labor as it is to observe the Sabbath and rest from labor -"Six days you shall work, but on the seventh day you shall rest" (Exod. 34:21).

13A - The Biblical Work Ethic

  1. Whatever work you put your hands to, do it with all your might.

    Eccl. 9:10.

  2. Every man should enjoy the good of all his labor. Eccl. 2:24; Eccl. 3:13; Eccl. 5:18.
  3. The laborer is worthy of his hire (wages). Matt. 10:10; Matt. 20:8; Luke 10:7; 1 Tim. 5:18.
  4. We are exhorted to walk in a manner worthy of the vocation with which we have been called. Eph. 4:1.
  5. Every man shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. 1 Cor. 3:8.
  6. If any would not work, neither should he eat. 2 Thes. 3:10.
  7. Lead a quite life, mind your own business, and work with your own hands. 1 Thes. 4:11.
  8. Be not slothful in business, but be fervent in spirit. Rom. 12:11.
  9. Do not engage in work and labor that is vain or futile. Jer. 10: 3.

13B - Purpose and Reason for Work

  1. For wealth -In all labor there is profit. Prov. 14:23.
  2. Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished; but he that gathers by labor shall increase. Prov. 13:11.
  3. To reduce crime - Let him who stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands. Eph. 4:28.
  4. To satisfy hunger - A person who labors, labors for himself, for his hunger urges him on. Prov. 16:26.
  5. An idle man shall suffer hunger. Prov. 19:15.
  6. In the sweat of thy face shall you eat bread. Gen. 3:19.
  7. All the labor of man is for his mouth. Eccl. 6:7.
  8. To prevent poverty - He becomes poor that deals with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent makes one rich. Prov. 10:4.
  9. Love not sleep, lest you come to poverty. Prov. 20:13.
  10. For life - the labor of the righteous leads to life. Prov. 10:16.
  11. To cause productivity rather than waste - He who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys. Prov. 18:9.
  12. A man who is diligent in his business will stand before kings, and not the lowly. Prov. 22:29.
  13. To have a peaceful life - The sleep of a laboring man is sweet, whether he eat little or much; but the abundance of the rich will not suffer him to sleep. Eccl. 5:12.

13C - Work and Agriculture

  1. A hard-working farmer ought to be the first to partake of his crops. 2 Tim. 2:6.
  2. He that sows sparingly shall also reap sparingly; and he which sows bountifully shall also reap bountifully. 2 Cor. 9:6.
  3. The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing. Prov. 20:4.
  4. He that tills his land shall have plenty of bread; but he that follows after vain persons shall have poverty. Prov. 28:19.
  5. You shall eat the labor of your hands, and it shall be well with you. Psa. 128:2.
  6. The fields of the slothful will be overgrown with thistles and weeds, his farm broken down, and he will fall into poverty. Prov. 24:30-34.
  7. Be not overly concerned about the weather when you sow and reap, for you do not know the works of God. Eccl. 11:4-6.

    13D - Doing God's Work

    1. We are to be doers of God's word, and not just hearers of it. James 1:22-25.
    2. Commit your works to the LORD, and your thoughts will be established. Prov. 16:3.
    3. Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. Psa. 127:1.
    4. Be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the works of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord. 1 Cor. 15:58.

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