Theology of Work

From the Archives – Five Reasons to Preach a Series on Work

In my five decades of attending Bible-preaching churches I’ve heard precisely one sermon series on work. It was my own, and was pretty weak.

It’s possible that the topic has been receiving systematic attention all over the place all these years, and I’ve just managed to miss nearly all of it. But I think not.

For whatever reason, work is a neglected subject, not only in topical preaching and teaching, but, in my experience, also in the applicational portions of expositional sermons. Often, when the workplace is referenced at all, the focus is solely on “being a witness” or “having a good testimony,” as though work couldn’t possibly have any other important purposes in a believer’s life.

So the topic seems not only to be underrepresented in pulpit work, but also to be poorly understood.

For several reasons, our ministries should include systematic teaching on work. Some of these reasons also point to the bigger picture of why work is important in the lives of Christians.

1. It’s OK to do topical work sometimes.

For the benefit of those who highly value paragraph-by-paragraph expositional preaching (as they should) and are hesitant to include any topical work in the mix, a few observations:

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Is what is done in the “spiritual” realm more important than what is done in the professional realm?

"Not only did Jesus make good tables, but his toil was not in vain. If Jesus’ work for twenty years was not in vain, then how does that change the way we evaluate our own lives or those of others?" - IFWE

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Help! My Employer Celebrates Gay Pride and Pays for Abortion Travel

"Proximity and participation matter. Every job requires us to work in the presence of sin. The goal of the Christian life is not to remain in complete isolation from anyone who has ever disobeyed the commands of Scripture." - TGC

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“Establish the Work of Our Hands”

Then the Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it. (NKJV, Ge 2:15)

In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty. (NASB20, Pr 14:23)

I went by the field of a slacker and by the vineyard of one lacking sense. 31 Thistles had come up everywhere, weeds covered the ground, and the stone wall was ruined. 32 I saw, and took it to heart; I looked, and received instruction: 33 a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the arms to rest, 34 and your poverty will come like a robber, and your need, like a bandit. (CSB, Pr 24:30–34)

Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity, planning, knowledge, or wisdom in Sheol where you are going. (NASB20, Ec 9:10)

Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men (ESV, Col 3:23)

Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need. (ESV, Eph 4:28)

About brotherly love: You don’t need me to write you because you yourselves are taught by God to love one another. 10 In fact, you are doing this toward all the brothers and sisters in the entire region of Macedonia. But we encourage you, brothers and sisters, to do this even more, 11 to seek to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, 12 so that you may behave properly in the presence of outsiders and not be dependent on anyone. (CSB, 1 Th 4:9–12)

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