Biblical work

Published 2:31 pm Saturday, October 27, 2018

by William Sloan

How does Holy Scripture describe work or labor? Moreover, what does the Sovereign God require of the faithful regarding work? The Holy Bible is eternally clear that humans must work to contribute to the common good as the Triune God has created and redeemed them for His use.

The Living God consistently requires humans to labor throughout Holy Scripture He has breathed out. The vocation or state in life in which an individual finds them self functions as an opportunity to glorify the Sovereign God. Meaning, our work or labor when done in cooperation with infused grace and biblically governed aids in sustaining civilization or what Paul defines as the common good (1 Corinthians 12:7.)

For example, Nehemiah was granted the task of repairing Jerusalem from near ruination. Nehemiah and comrades were charged to utilize tools such as trowels in one hand and weapons in the other as they were under attack when laboring to reconstruct Jerusalem (Nehemiah 4:17.) Via Nehemiah’s leadership, Eliashib, Melatiah, Malchijah, and others were granted specific tasks in reconstructing the city (i.e., repairing the Sheep Gate, Tower, Oven, and Dung Gate) (Nehemiah 3:1-15.) Nehemiah argues that individuals co-working to repair Jerusalem were instructed to “put their shoulders to the work of their Lord” (Nehemiah 3:5.) Similarly, Solomon in obedience to the Living God employs workers to complete specific tasks when constructing the Temple. Solomon instructed 3,300 supervisors to oversee the Temple’s construction (1 Kings 5:16.) Moreover, Solomon participated in the construction and employed skilled individuals such as Hiram of Tyre, an intelligent bronzesmith, who casts and established pillars in the Temple (1 Kings 7:9-19.) Solomon’s leadership, governed by the Sovereign God, recognized the value of specific occupations (i.e., Gilbites cutting and preparing stone and timber) (1 Kings 5:18.) Solomon also maintains that the Living God grants individual’s work ethic for His use (Proverbs 16:26.) Moreover, Solomon contends that sluggishness or slackness in work is repugnant to the Father (Proverbs 18:9.) Solomon also writes that individuals must be diligent in their vocation and though work may be arduous the Lord requires the faithful to persevere (Proverbs 12:14-25.) Similarly, Aaron and his sons are described as completing their work within the tent as priests for the Lord. Moreover, Aaron and Moses enrolled many Israelites to complete the work of service in the tent meeting, which was considered laborious (Numbers 4:42-49.) Moses also describes Bezalel, Oholiab and others as skillful workers who honored the Sovereign God via their work (Exodus 36:1-7.)

The New Testament authors are emphatic about honoring Christ through their labor. Luke warns the faithful that misguided work, or labor displeasing to the Triune God, is represented by the crafting of idols (i.e., the golden calf) (Acts 7:41.) In effect, Luke argues that all work must be completed to glorify the Lord. Moreover, Luke emphasizes the necessity of completing work that an individual has begun in the service of Christ, who instructs the individual by the Spirit (Acts 14:26.) Similarly, Paul describes early Christians as co-workers in the Messiah (i.e., Prisca, Aquila, Mary, Urabnus, Stachys, Tryphanea, Tryphosa, Persis, Timothy, Lucius, Jason, and Sosipater) (Romans 16:3-21.) Moreover, Paul writes that those in the Lord Jesus are activated by Him to work diligently via divine grace (1 Corinthians 15:10.) Paul also describes the need to toil or continue working regardless of the obstacle (1 Corinthians 16:10-16.) Paul instructs the Thessalonians to work diligently in obedience to the written Word, which effectively benefits others and glorifies the Lord Jesus (1 Thessalonians 2:9-13.) Moreover, the Messiah describes His Father as a working God with whom He labors (John 5:17.)

The Lord Jesus warns the faithful throughout Holy Scripture to beware of our work becoming idolatry and, moreover, that the Sabbath must be kept. Moreover, the Father, Son, and Spirit have described the necessity of work throughout the Holy Bible. In sum, the Triune God requires the faithful to complete their work diligently as He employs the individual for the common good.

WILL SLOAN is the minister at Grace Memorial United Methodist Church in Sedley.