We are meant to work diligently and wisely to the degree we are able. Dependence on God is an attitude towards human labor, not a substitute for it.
Although God is our provider, he calls us to use what we have in our hands, not what we haven’t. God’s first gift to us for our provision is our ability to work, as we have seen in Genesis 1 and 2. Our work does not stand on its own, as a substitute for God’s generosity, but it is generally the first ingredient in God’s provision. Even if disability, circumstances or injustice make our work fall tragically short of meeting our needs, God begins by making use of what we are able to do. Then he makes up the difference from his inexhaustible riches.
In response to news that there were some in the church in Thessalonica who were shirking work, Paul commands,
Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living (2 Thessalonians 3:10-12).
No work, no eat. This, of course, presumes that there is work to do. It does not matter whether that work is paid or not. If there is useful work we can do, we cannot sit idle and expect God to bless our idleness. Many households depend on paid work done outside the household and unpaid work done within. Both kinds of work are elements of God’s provision. Even those who need paid work, but who are unemployed or unable to hold down a paid job, can still work in voluntary capacities. It is our responsibility to work to the degree we are able, even if it is God’s job to ensure that our needs are met. Idleness is not a valid form of dependence on God.
Thanks to everyone who has invested in the Theology of Work Project! Thanks to your generosity, we were able to meet all our needs for 2017! We ask that you continue to keep us in your prayers and charitable giving in 2018 as we equip Christians to connect to God's purposes for work.