The Bible offers an abundance of wisdom on the topic of work. These five Biblical ideas—along with insights from Billy Graham—can help you view work in a new light, whether you love your job, hate your job or you’re looking for work.
1. Work is a gift from God.
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Since the beginning, work has been part of God’s plan for humanity. He created it. That means you can view the act of working as a gift, even if you don’t love your job.
2. Those who are able to work should do so.
Both the Old and New Testaments of the Bible speak highly of work and condemn laziness. In one of the Apostle Paul’s letters, he seemed to be scolding some Christians who refused to earn their keep:
“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living” (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
Billy Graham once wrote about this passage, saying, “Please note that this wasn’t spoken to people who couldn’t find jobs. This was instead directed at people who had every opportunity to work—but refused to do so.”
3. Work like God is your boss.
The Apostle Paul said, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24).
These words can be especially encouraging—and challenging—if you don’t like your job or have trouble getting along with your boss. The Bible tells us that all Christians are ultimately working for the Lord. Paul wrote, “whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31).
Whether you’re making peanut butter sandwiches for little ones, typing emails in a cubicle, or scrubbing toilets, your hard work brings glory to God.
4. Take time to rest.
The fourth commandment says, “Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor, and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath to the Lord your God. On it you shall not do any work, you, or your son, or your daughter, your male servant, or your female servant, or your livestock, or the sojourner who is within your gates” (Exodus 20:8-10).
Most of us live in a culture that ignores this commandment. But it’s still important in God’s eyes. Just as God created work, He also created rest. He never meant for His people to be workaholics.
Billy Graham wrote, “Our work was never meant to become the center of our lives. That place belongs only to God. … Someone who brags about working 70 or 80 hours (or more) a week probably thinks he is the master of his job—but in reality he has become its slave.”
5. Put God first when you plan for old age.
The Bible doesn’t specifically address the current-day concept of retirement, which is a relatively new idea. We do know that many of the Bible’s best-known servants of God never stopped working for the Lord, even when they were quite old.
Billy Graham, who eventually retired from public preaching but served the Lord as long as he was able, once responded to a question from someone whose life goal was to retire at age 50. Mr. Graham didn’t condemn retirement, but he offered this insight:
“Your goal … suggests that you’re only concerned about yourself. What will you do with the remaining years of your life, once you retire? Will you pursue a life of self-centered indulgence, living only for yourself? If so, you will end up restless, bored and empty.
“Instead, I urge you to put your life into God’s hands by committing your life to Jesus Christ. Put Him at the center of your life, for only then will you find lasting joy and peace and satisfaction.”