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The Mandate

A Biblical View of Economics

By Editorial Staff
Published April 24, 2008

What is Meant by the “Work Ethic”?

by Charles Simpson

MORE THAN 3,000 YEARS AGO MOSES said to Israel, “It is He who is giving you power to make wealth, that He may confirm His covenant which He swore to your fathers” (Deuteronomy 8:18, NAS). God gives us the ability to prosper, and that prosperity indicates that He is with us. It also supports His desire to establish His kingdom here on earth.

Work and wealth are valued by God. Increase of resources is confirmation of proper management, proper understanding, and diligent effort. The Bible, inspired by the Holy Spirit, says a great deal about work and wealth. God works (see Genesis 2:2 and Psalm 104:24); Jesus works (see John 5:17; 9:4); the Holy Spirit works (see 1 Corinthians 12:11); mankind works (see Genesis 1:28); apostles work (see 2 Thessalonians 3:8); and we are even told that we should enjoy work (see Ecclesiastes 2:24).

Work and wealth are part of God’s plan for us. By looking to the Scriptures we can regain a proper understanding and a fresh view of the work that God has called each of us to do.

The Biblical Work Ethic

The biblical work ethic is God and man laboring together to cause creation to prosper, thus returning abundance to God and man. Biblical gain comes within the framework of mutual benefit to all: God, mankind, and creation itself.

I recently heard a commercial that said, “The promise of America is opportunity, not guarantees.” Throughout its history, the United States has been a mecca for people seeking opportunity. It has been said that even those who hate it want to live here. It’s not that the country has superior resources, but that it was founded on a superior ethic – a biblical attitude toward morality, work, and wealth. Most of the early officials were managers of farms – entrepreneurs and pioneers with faith.

Whatever opportunities the United States or any other country offers, they are nothing compared to the opportunities that God offers. With Him all things are possible to those who believe. Many people, however, are not being fruitful in their labor, and I believe it is the result of a lack of vision.

Task and Vision

Julius Joske, president and founder of a chain of department stores, once said, “Vision without task is fantasy. Task without vision is drudgery. But vision with task can change the world.” People who lose their sense of purpose or vision will eventually lose their motivation to work, their resources, and their identity. How far that is from God’s purpose for man! We are created in His image to manage His creation.

Here are several biblical visions for work that will enable us to maintain our motivation and to be fruitful. One, we must see God as the fountainhead of our vocation. Apart from God, we make no sense, and our work makes no sense. We should seek God until He reveals Himself to us and gives us a higher perspective of ourselves and our work.

Two, we should see ourselves as members of the corporation that runs the whole of creation under God Himself (see Psalm 24:1 and Genesis 1:27-28). God does not want to do it all by Himself. As His servants, we are part of His management team. He created mankind to rule over the works of His hands.

Three, we should see ourselves as working with God. We can work for Him, but it’s even more wonderful to work with Him. We must see ourselves relying and depending upon the Spirit of God for strength, power, direction, wisdom, or whatever it is we need.

Four, we should see ourselves as important to, and productive in, God’s purposes. Whatever our vocation is, it is important to God, our family, our church, and society.

Five, we must believe that it is God’s will for us to enjoy the rewards of our labor. God is our master, but He is not stingy or selfish. Prosperity is not sinful, and the successful person should enjoy the fruit of his labor. If we have succeeded, by the grace of God, we should give Him the tithe (one tenth of our earnings), take care of our family, save some seed for future sowing, and enjoy some of the fruit of our labors.

Six, we should see ourselves as givers to the needy. Ephesians 4:28 says, “Let him who steals steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need (NAS).” This verse contains much of the biblical work ethic. Labor should result in our having something to give the needy. This is a major purpose for work and prosperity.

Seven, we should see ourselves as being prepared for an even greater opportunity. Luke 16:10-12 gives us three important principles associated with work: faithful in a little, given much; faithful in money, given spiritual riches; and faithful in another’s, given our own. In each of these principles is promotion.

The Bible communicates a message with power that changes the way people live and societies operate. Included in that message is the calling for us not only to work for God, but to work with God.

Charles Simpson is a pastor and Bible teacher based in Mobile, Alabama. He is the author of a Bible study curriculum, God and the Marketplace, which has been translated into Chinese and distributed inside China.


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The Silent Scream (DVD) Eight Languages

“When the lives of the unborn are snuffed out, they often feel pain, pain that is long and agonizing.” – President Ronald Reagan to National Religious Broadcasters Convention, January 1981

Ronald Reagan became convinced of this as a result of watching The Silent Scream – a movie he considered so powerful and convicting that he screened it at the White House. More recently, it was by catching just a glimpse of what this film reveals that Planned Parenthood director and abortion advocate Abby Johnson turned and became a strong advocate for the pre-born.

The modern technology of real-time ultrasound now reveals the actual responses of a 12-week old fetus to being aborted. As the unborn child attempts to escape the abortionist’s suction curette, her motions can be seen to become desperately agitated and her heart rate doubles. Her mouth opens – as if to scream – but no sound can come out. Her scream doesn’t have to remain silent, however … not if you will become her voice. This newly re-mastered version features eight language tracks and two bonus videos.

“…a high technology “Uncle Tom’s Cabin” arousing public opinion just as Harriet Beecher Stowe’s 1852 antislavery novel ignited the abolitionist movement.” – Sen. Gordon Humphrey, Time Magazine

Languages: English, Spanish, French, South Korean, Chinese, Russian, Portuguese, Japanese

Running Time: 28 minutes

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Martin Luther: Digitally Remastered 1953 Classic (DVD)

“Here I stand … I can do no other!”

With these immortal words, an unknown German monk sparked a spiritual revolution that changed the world.

The dramatic classic film of Martin Luther’s life was released in theaters worldwide in the 1950s and was nominated for two Oscars. A magnificent depiction of Luther and the forces at work in the surrounding society that resulted in his historic reform efforts, this film traces Luther’s life from a guilt-burdened monk to his eventual break with the Roman Catholic Church.

Running time: 105 minutes

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Watch a clip from Martin Luther.

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Dr. Francis Schaeffer - A Christian Manifesto (DVD)

That Swiss Hermit Strikes Again!

Dr. Schaeffer, who was one of the most influential Christian thinkers in the twentieth century, shows that secular humanism has displaced the Judeo-Christian consensus that once defined our nation’s moral boundaries. Law, education, and medicine have all been reshaped for the worse as a consequence. America’s dominant worldview changed, Schaeffer charges, when Christians weren’t looking.

Schaeffer lists two reasons for evangelical indifference: a false concept of spirituality and fear. He calls on believers to stand against the tyranny and moral chaos that come when humanism reigns-and warns that believers may, at some point, be forced to make the hard choice between obeying God or Caesar. A Christian Manifesto is a thought-provoking and bracing Christian analysis of American culture and the obligation Christians have to engage the culture with the claims of Christ.

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Freedom: The Model of Christian Liberty (DVD)

“Give me liberty or give me death!”

Patrick Henry’s famous declaration not only helped launch the War for Independence, it also perfectly summarized the mindset that gave birth to, and sustained, the unprecedented experiment in Christian liberty that was America.

The freedom our Founders envisioned was not freedom from suffering, want, or hard work. Nor was it freedom to indulge every appetite or whim without restraint—that would merely be servitude to a different master. No, the Founders’ passion was to live free before God, unfettered by the chains of autocracy, shackles that slowly but inexorably bind men when the governments they fashion fail to recognize and uphold freedom’s singular, foundational truth: that all men are created in the image of God, and are thereby co-equally endowed with the right to “life, liberty, and the pursuit of happiness.”

This presentation is a similar call, not to one but many. By reintroducing the principles of freedom that gave birth to America, it is our prayer that Jesus, the true and only ruler over the nations, will once again be our acknowledged Sovereign, that we may again know and exult in the great truth that “where the Spirit of the LORD is, there is liberty” (2 Cor. 3:17).

Welcome to the Second American Revolution!

This DVD features “Liberty: The Model of Christian Liberty” along with “Dawn’s Early Light: A Brief History of America’s Christian Foundations.” Bonus features include a humorous but instructive collection of campaign ads and Eric Holmberg’s controversial YouTube challenge concerning Mitt Romney’s campaign for president.

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Amazing GraceAmazing Grace: The History and Theology of Calvinism (DVD)

Download the Free Study Guide!

Just what is Calvinism?

Does this teaching make man a deterministic robot and God the author of sin? What about free will? If the church accepts Calvinism, won’t evangelism be stifled, perhaps even extinguished? How can we balance God’s sovereignty and man’s responsibility? What are the differences between historic Calvinism and hyper-Calvinism? Why did men like Augustine, Luther, Calvin, Spurgeon, Whitefield, Edwards and a host of renowned Protestant evangelists embrace the teaching of predestination and election and deny free will theology?

This is the first video documentary that answers these and other related questions. Hosted by Eric Holmberg, this fascinating three-part, four-hour presentation is detailed enough so as to not gloss over the controversy. At the same time, it is broken up into ten “Sunday-school-sized” sections to make the rich content manageable and accessible for the average viewer.

Running Time: 257 minutes

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