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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Foundations in Biblical Eschatology
By Jay Rogers, Larry Waugh, Rodney Stortz, Joseph Meiring. High quality paperback, 167 pages.
All Christians believe that their great God and Savior, Jesus Christ, will one day return. Although we cannot know the exact time of His return, what exactly did Jesus mean when he spoke of the signs of His coming (Mat. 24)? How are we to interpret the prophecies in Isaiah regarding the time when “the earth will be full of the knowledge of the LORD as the waters cover the sea” (Isa. 11:19)? Should we expect a time of great tribulation and apostasy or revival and reformation before the Lord returns? Is the devil bound now, and are the saints reigning with Christ? Did you know that there are four hermeneutical approaches to the book of Daniel and Revelation?
These and many more questions are dealt with by four authors as they present the four views on the millennium. Each view is then critiqued by the other three authors.
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Special Two-Disc Set!
After 40 years of intense study and world-wide ministry, Dr. Francis Schaeffer completed his crowning work of scholarship – to present profound truths in simple film language. Dr. Schaeffer’s brilliant analysis of the past and predictions for current trends have proven so uncannily accurate that this amazing series still feels contemporary almost three decades after its initial release. Ultimately, Schaeffer concludes that man’s only hope is a return to God’s Biblical absolute, the truth revealed in Christ through the Scriptures.
Available for the first time on DVD, this documentary spectacular also includes intimate in-depth conversations with Francis and Edith Schaeffer. With the on-disc study guide, this presentation forms a unique course of comprehensive study. While this series forms an innovative analysis of the past, this outstanding work is more than history. Each episode focuses on a significant era, yet speaks clearly to 21st-century man with answers for modern problems.
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Who is the dreaded beast of Revelation?
Now at last, a plausible candidate for this personification of evil incarnate has been identified (or re-identified). Ken Gentry’s insightful analysis of scripture and history is likely to revolutionize your understanding of the book of Revelation — and even more importantly — amplify and energize your entire Christian worldview!
Historical footage and other graphics are used to illustrate the lecture Dr. Gentry presented at the 1999 Ligonier Conference in Orlando, Florida. It is followed by a one-hour question and answer session addressing the key concerns and objections typically raised in response to his position. This presentation also features an introduction that touches on not only the confusion and controversy surrounding this issue — but just why it may well be one of the most significant issues facing the Church today.
Ideal for group meetings, personal Bible study — for anyone who wants to understand the historical context of John’s famous letter “… to the seven churches which are in Asia.” (Revelation 1:4)
Running Time: 145 minutes
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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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God’s Law and Society powerfully presents a comprehensive worldview based upon the ethical system found in the Law of God.
Speakers include: R.J. Rushdoony, George Grant, Howard Phillips, R.C. Sproul Jr., Ken Gentry, Gary DeMar, Jay Grimstead, Steven Schlissel, Andrew Sandlin, Eric Holmberg, and more!
Sixteen Christian leaders and scholars answer some of the most common questions and misconceptions related to this volatile issue:
1. Are we under Law or under Grace?
2. Does the Old Testament Law apply today?
3. Can we legislate morality?
4. What are the biblical foundations of government?
5. Was America founded as a Christian nation?
6. What about the separation of Church and State?
7. Is neutrality a myth?
8. What about non-Christians and the Law of God?
9. Would there be “freedom” in a Christian republic?
10. What would a “Christian America” look like?
Perfect for group instruction as well as personal Bible study.
Ten parts, over four hours of instruction!
Running Time: 240 minutes
Watch over 60 on-line video interviews from God’s Law and Society.
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