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Theology and work

Read: Ephesians 6:5-8

The Bible has a lot to say about work and diligence.  Here are some initial examples:

  • Work is good (Genesis 3:11)
  • Work is a gift of God to mankind (Ecclesiastes 3:10)
  • Work in the fallen condition can be frustrating (Genesis 3:17 and Ecclesiastes 1:13)
  • We should not work only when the ‘boss’ is watching (Colossians 3:22)
  • We should not be lazy at work (Proverbs 4:10)
  • We should be diligent in paying other workers what is right (Colossians 4:1) and on time (Leviticus 19:13)
  • We should contribute to the costs of life through work in order to live in an orderly way (2 Thessalonians 3:6-12)

Ephesians 6 features two key principles that regulate a diligent commitment in all your work.  Although the direct context is one of slaves and masters, the principles apply equally to you.

Principle 1:  all work has value for God (Ephesians 6:8).  The text says that ‘the Lord will reward each one’, regardless of their working condition.  And if the Lord rewards for (secular) work, it is because it is valuable for Him.  In the context of these slaves, this meant that there was value to God in things like fetching water, cleaning the horse stalls, washing tunics and making bread.

Principle 2:  in our work we must look to God (Ephesians 6:6). The text says that, in our work, we are to ‘do the will of God from our heart’.  If you are dissatisfied with work that you do,  you may be looking in the wrong direction to gain approval.  if you work to ‘win the favour of men’, you will often be disappointed and may lose motivation to do your work diligently.  But if you consider yourself as a worker of God, who has asked you to the work at hand and appreciates what you do, then your heart will be simpler and undivided (‘sincere’ in vs 5), which will allow you to work wholeheartedly.

A prayer: Lord, I commit to be diligent in all my work, of whatever kind it is, recognising that it is valuable to you. I look to you for approval, even when I may not receive it from those around me, and ask for a simple heart to find joy in working wholeheartedly.

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