Posted by Nathan Warner on

“For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies” (2 Thessalonians 3:11).

Work is a hot topic today and many young people are championing the idea that you shouldn’t have to work to live (the “Universal Basic Income”) - instead, everyone would receive a paycheck just for being alive.  It might sound nice at first, but it fails to understand how we are made and the sin nature of our human nature—and it violates Scripture.  Paul taught “if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either” (2 Thess. 3:10b).

Why would Paul say this?  Because man is made for beneficial work.  And in this way, we were made in the image of God, for God is a God of work.  God created all things for His glory, and yet all that he designed was made to benefit others.  “Come and see the works of God, Who is awesome in His deeds toward the sons of men” (Ps. 66:5), for “the earth is satisfied with the fruit of His works” (Ps. 104:13b).  God’s work brings Himself pleasure and it brings life to His creation.  The galaxy serves its stars, the sun serves the grass, which serves the cow, which serves man, and we serve God who made all of it to serve His creation.  In the same way, all the organs of the body were designed to mutually serve one another in their work: “the whole body, being fitted and held together by what every joint supplies, according to the proper working of each individual part, causes the growth of the body” (Eph. 4:16a).  All things serve one another in work. 

Unfortunately, sin has caused havoc in this order—yet it is still discernible through the veil of corruption and death.  By our very design, we were made to emulate God with works of our own that benefit ourselves and benefit others.  It is self-evident that without work to do, people dissipate into self-harm and harming others.  You’ve probably heard the old expression: “Idle hands do the devil’s work.”  Meaning that if you don’t have something good to apply your energy to, you will apply it to harmful things (harmful to you and harmful to others).  “He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys” (Pro. 18:9).  This is because our flesh is in bondage to the sin nature, which is at enmity with God and desiring its own pleasures at the expense of others if it can get away with it.

We can see an example of this today with the many Millennials living in their parent’s homes with no desire or will to work.  They dissipate themselves and their parents substance with amusement and self-indulgence, while lending support to political ideologies equally detached from reality that promise freedom from work and which tear at the fabric of our society.  They eat up the substance of others in self-dissipation rather than supplying substance to others through beneficial work. 

What is beneficial work?  From a practical perspective, beneficial work is anything that benefits yourself and others at the same time.  This is what is called in economics a “free” market because it is based on the idea of a mutually beneficial exchange.  For example, the factory worker at the toothbrush factory is paid a living by people who need a special kind of toothbrush for their receding gums.  Both people get something they need from this exchange of labor.  Generally speaking, most labor in this world is providing a service to someone who needs that labor.  Work is ultimately about service to others for compensation.  It is mutually beneficial.

Work also gets us out of ourselves, because in order to make our living, we must serve the needs of others, whether we are a barista at a coffee shop, a grocery store owner, or an engineer—we are providing a service to those that need it.  Working for yourself forces you to serve others and be interested in their needs. 

God is truly wise in His design of creation, but beneficial work isn’t the end for the Believer, for we also have “Good works” to do, as we’ll see next time.  Even so, Amen.

Tags: money, god, creation, living, father, works, work, good works, beneficial works


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