In 1985 a man by the name of Bob Black authored a work entitled “The Abolition of Work” which read, “No one should ever work. Work is the source of nearly all the misery in the world. Almost any evil you'd care to name comes from working or from living in a world designed for work. In order to stop suffering, we have to stop working.”
I'm not sure what Mr. Black would call the effort that he put into writing his essay. Not work, of course.
Now the Bible stands in stark contrast to these ridiculous ramblings about the evil of work. The scriptures describe work as something beneficial and of great value.
Ever since the days of Adam and Eve in the garden of Eden people have worked. God placed Adam in the garden “to dress it and to keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Work is a wonderful part of our human existence. Whether physical or mental, we all need to work.
The prophet Jeremiah wrote, “It is good for a man that he bear the yoke in his youth.” The apostle Paul writes, “For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).
Work even made it into God’s “Top Ten.” The fourth commandment, which says to remember the sabbath, states, “Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest” (Exodus 23:12).
- We are instructed against being lazy in our work (Proverbs 18:9).
- We are told to commit our works unto the Lord (Proverbs 16:3).
- God commends those who willingly do manual labor (Proverbs 31:13).
- Solomon says that enjoying the good of all your labour is a gift from God (Ecclesiastes 3:13).
- Jesus said that “the labourer is worthy of his hire.” (Luke 10:7)
- Paul honors a woman in Rome because she “bestowed much labour on us.” (Romans 16:6).
- In many of Jesus’ parables he honors the worker and his work.
So, we see that work is prevalent in the scriptures, and work is important. But why? Why do we work? What is the purpose of working?
Many would say because it is necessary. And it is.
Others would say that the purpose of working is to make money. And we do. Money tends to follow industry. Laziness never made anyone rich. But is that all there is to it. Is work simply for the purpose of amassing wealth?
In our reading for today (Proverbs 23) we read in verse 4, “Labour not to be rich: cease from thine own wisdom.”
The wisdom of this world says that we work to get rich. God’s word says that we are to cease from following that kind of wisdom and that we should not work for that reason.
In verse 5 Solomon asks the question, “Wilt thou set thine eyes upon that which is not? for riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away as an eagle toward heaven.”
Riches don’t last. We should work for something that lasts. Jesus instructs us, “Labour not for the meat which perisheth . . .” (John 6:27). In other words, “don’t work for things that don’t last!”
Solomon reminds us that when a person dies, he will “take nothing of his labour, which he may carry away in his hand” (Ecclesiastes 5:15).
So, from the negative side, we would answer the question, "Why work?" by saying, "Not to get rich." There is much more to say about this matter, but we'll take that up tomorrow, Lord willing. Until then, God bless you all!
Grace and peace,