People who, for reasons of social or economic disadvantage, are not in the workforce can tend to be stigmatized and even considered worthless. While our society highly values people who work hard and are successful in their careers. In the past couple of decades we have seen the average hours spent at work each week expand, with employers expecting more work for the wages they pay. At the same time, unpaid work is often thought to be second-rate, and something that no one should be expected to put up with in the long term.
When we look at the Bible, work is part of human life as God created it, and is therefore good. In the fallen world, work has become hard, but has not ceased to be part of what it means to be human. As Christians, we want to have a right understanding of the place and value of work in our lives. Worldly wisdom will lead us to want to find our value in what we do, whereas the gospel shows us that our value is in who we are as people made in the image of God. On the flipside, our sinfulness will lead us to laziness and self-indulgence instead of sharing in the work that is needed for the maintenance and good order of human life.
The wise person who fears the Lord is the one who recognises that work is good and is part of life for people who want to live rightly in the world that God has redeemed and is redeeming through the death and resurrection of Jesus Christ. He or she will not pursue work as their source of satisfaction and value, nor be lazy like the sluggard of Proverbs, but will work joyfully knowing that we are working for the One whose work was to do the will of his Father to save us and give us eternal rest.
In Christ’s love,