But what is the textual basis for working hard? Is it truly biblical, or just a Western idea that we’ve uncritically absorbed?
It is indeed truly biblical. If the West is known for its work ethic, it is in part due to the influence of the Bible. Here are just a few texts, divided into two categories.
1. Paul worked hard, not only in his ministry but also in non-ministry work, in order to give us an example that we all ought to work hard as well:
You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my necessities and to those who were with me. In all things I have shown you that by working hard in this way we must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how he himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive’” (Acts 20:34-35).
“For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us, because we were not idle when we were with you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with toil and labor we worked night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you. It was not because we do not have that right, but to give you in ourselves an example to imitate” (2 Thessalonians 3:7-9).
2. Proverbs tells us that if you are slothful in your work you are not only lacking sense and hurting yourself, but are actually akin to a vandal:
“Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth” (Proverbs 12:27).
“Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger” (Proverbs 19:15).
“I passed by the field of a sluggard, by the vineyard of a man lacking sense” (Proverbs 24:30).
“Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys” (Proverbs 18:9).
Don’t be a vandal. Work hard!
Matt is an author, speaker, and consultant eager to help you do work that matters, and do it better. More than that, he wants to help you do your work and influence the culture in a gospel-centered way. Matt is the author of What’s Best Next and Creating a Business Plan that Actually Works.
He worked for 13 years at Desiring God leading the web department, serving as director of strategy, and helping build the ministry for greater spreading. With an M.Div. from Southern Seminary and experience consulting with churches and organizations, Matt started What’s Best Next to equip Christians theologically and practically.