Instructions: The format of these ministudies is similar to that of the Ambassador College Bible Correspondence Course. Look up and read in your Bible the scripture references given in answer to the questions. Comments following the questions elaborate on the scriptures just read. That's all there is to it! (These studies are based on the Revised Authorized Version of the Bible, unless indicated.)
God wants Christians to prosper both spiritually and materially — He wants us to enjoy life! Jesus Christ Himself said, "I have come that they may have life, and that they may have it more abundantly" (John 10:10).
"I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health," God inspired the apostle John to write (III John 2). But in order to experience the abundant life, we must be practicing the way of life that produces it. This includes keeping God's commandments and following the principles of Christian living and working that God reveals in His Word.
Let's look into the Bible to learn what kind of attitude and approach God wants His people to have toward work. Let's study God's formula for job success!
1. When God put Adam in the Garden of Eden, did He put him to work? Genesis 2:15. What was to be the continuing task of the human race? Genesis 1:26-28.
In the first two chapters of Genesis, God reveals Himself as a creator — a worker. Within six days His creative work unfolded. And when He created the first human beings in His own image, He made them workers, too.
God told the parents of mankind to subdue the earth — to develop, care for and produce from their environment. When God planted the garden in Eden, He put the man into the garden to cultivate and beautify it.
2. Does the commandment to rest on the Sabbath have another side? Exodus 20:8-9.
Rest from what? From work, of course. Though many have not realized it, the Fourth Commandment also instructs us to labor during the other six days of the week. That part of the command is just as important as the part requiring us to rest on the seventh day of the week — the day God made holy.
The Sabbath commandment actually dates back to creation week. It was given to keep man in a close spiritual relationship with his Creator, who is engaged in productive work— who created and now sustains His creation. And God intends for us to become like Him.
3. Was Jesus Christ sent to earth to work? John 9:4. Did He reveal that the Father is still busily at work? John 5:17.
4. Does God intend for us to enjoy and profit from the work we do? Ecclesiastes 2:24, 3:22. How zealously should we do all of our work? Ecclesiastes 9:10.
God works with zeal. We are to become more like God by working diligently, whether we are working for an employer, doing the housework or working for ourselves.
Philosopher and writer Elbert Hubbard realized the importance of working diligently. He said: "If I worked for a man, I would work for him. I would not work for him part of the time, and against him the rest of the time. I would either work for him all the time, or I would not work for him at all."
5. How did the apostle Paul deal with lazy, shiftless idlers? II Thessalonians 3:10. Did he command them to work? Verses 11-12.
6. Will diligent effort always prove its worth? Proverbs 10:4-5, 13:4. Will the hard worker have the necessities of life? Proverbs 20:13, 28:19.
7. Does the slothful person look for all kinds of dangers to justify his lack of effort? Proverbs 22:13, 26:13-15. Is his love of sleep and lack of effort the cause of his poverty? Proverbs 6:10-11.
8. Does laziness tend to become habit-forming? Proverbs 19:15.
Some use the slightest excuse to flop down on the bed or couch — they cannot distinguish between true tiredness and plain laziness! Others watch television when they ought to be working or doing something constructive.
9. Is there profit in all labor? And nothing but poverty in a lot of talk? Proverbs 14:23.
If you happen to be unemployed, you can start profiting from this principle right now. How? By making a job out of finding a job. Work at it 40 hours a week. Persist and be resourceful. Read books to learn how to search more effectively. Seek advice on other types of employment if your skills are not in demand, or perhaps your skills can be adapted to some other job. And, of course, ask God to help you find a job. Once you have a job, you are ready to put into action further practical instruction from the New Testament.
10. What did Paul teach regarding service to one's employer — one's boss, foreman or supervisor? Colossians 3:22-24, Titus 2:9-10.
Though Paul's instruction was specifically to Christians who were bond slaves, the principles also apply to our performance on the job. Whatever your occupation may be, work as if your immediate boss were Jesus Christ: "Do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men." Be cooperative and zealous on the job. Be alert to please your boss by doing the job his way. Show your willingness to go beyond what is required.
Remember, too, that good personal relations on the job is one of the best forms of employment insurance. Don't be a flatterer or a hypocrite, but show sincere, loving concern and cooperation toward your employer, your foreman and your fellow employees in every possible way. Your good attitude and cheerfulness will help everyone else do a better job, too.
11. Can one expect to be paid a good salary if he is not worth it? See the principle in Mark 4:24.
Moffatt translates this verse "the measure you deal out to others will be dealt out to yourselves." If you give your employer a fair day's work, he will pay a fair day's wage. If he won't, another employer will be glad to.
The way to receive a higher salary is to be worth more! Be a valuable employee. Don't just plod along in your job with a ho-hum, humdrum, every-day-the-same-routine attitude. Be energetic — produce. Study to improve your skills. Take some night classes or check out books on your line of work from the public library.
Really apply yourself and prove to your employer that you have the ability and the desire to work and do an excellent job. Do your part and God will bless you.
12. What is a sluggard like to those who hire him? Proverbs 10:26.
He simply doesn't get the job done. Therefore he isn't paid much, if he can hold a job at all.
13. To whom is the sluggard instructed to go to study and learn about the initiative he lacks? Proverbs 6:6-9.
Many have not understood the main point of this passage. Certainly it advocates the quality of diligence. But notice verse 7. The ant not only works, but does so with "no leader, no foreman or chief' (Moffatt).
Humans, with the God-given ability to think and reason, should be able to do much better than these lower forms of life whose actions are only instinctive. An employee should think ahead to see what needs to be done, always working diligently whether or not the boss is looking.
14. What kind of employee will end up directing the rest of the workers? Proverbs 12:24. And what will be the lot of the slothful? Same verse.
Do your job without being told. Or do it immediately when told how. Get it right the first time. Be the kind of person who increases his superior's production and the production of his fellow workers. When the time comes for raises and promotions, this is the person who will be remembered.
15. Will the person who really applies himself on the job eventually find himself in the company of distinguished people? Proverbs 22:29.
16. Was Joseph an industrious young man who was given great responsibilities? Genesis 39:2-6, 22-23, 41:39-44.
Are you willing to put forth the effort tp be like Joseph? He was a diligent worker who served and obeyed God. And though he was severely tested for a time, he did the best he could 'even in limited circumstances. He obeyed God, and therefore God blessed him greatly. He eventually became prime minister of Egypt, and will be given a high position in the soon-coming Kingdom of God (see Hebrews 11).
If you really believe God and set yourself to follow the biblical principles we've just studied, and strive to please God in other facets of your life as revealed in His Word, He promises to bless you! The apostle Paul sums it up in Hebrews 11:6: "He who comes to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder [both spiritually and physically] of those who diligently seek Him."