A Businessman’s Perspective on Work in the BibleArticle / Produced by Individual TOW Project member
Andy Mills is co-chair of the Theology of Work Project. Andy became a Christian as a CEO, and he felt God impress upon him the importance of asking, “What difference does being a Christian make for my work?” Over the years, Andy’s extensive experience as a Christian working in the marketplace and his study of scripture have helped him form the following perspective on work.
The Bible makes it clear that work matters to God. No matter what your profession or occupation – whether you’re a parent, a bus driver, an artist or an engineer – God cares about your work. Here are ten key points about work drawn from the Bible. They provide a practical foundation for Christians asking what the Bible says about how we should approach our work.
1) Work is part of God’s big picture.
God created all things and He has revealed that, in His sovereignty, He is progressing created order through a process of Creation, Fall and Redemption. God’s created order started with the perfect garden (Garden of Eden) and will be consummated in the perfect city (New Jerusalem).
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Genesis 1, Genesis 2, Revelation 21:1-22:5)
2) Our actual work matters to God, now and eternally.
God has chosen to create men and women in His image to, among other things, work and tend this created order for His glory and for the betterment of humankind. In ways we can’t fully understand, the good work we do now, done with and for Him, will survive into the New Jerusalem. Work itself has intrinsic value.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Genesis 1:27, Genesis 2:5 & 2:15, Isaiah 65:21-23, Ephesians 2:10, Revelation 21:24-27)
3) God provides us with unique skills, gifts and talents, and calls us to particular roles and activities.
Although the roles might have apparent differences in importance, our callings are equal. They are a spiritual calling. There are no second-class callings from God. We will be worthy of this calling if we are devoted in our relationship with Him and look to Him only for leadership and strength.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Romans 12:6-8, 1 Corinthians 12:28, Ephesians 4:11-16, Matthew 25:14-30) (Check out the Theology of Work Project's Calling and Vocation Overview)
4) Quality, character, and ethics are foundational for our work.
We are responsible not only for the quality of our work, but also for our faithfulness to God in the way we pursue that work, and for our own good character while working. We will be judged and rewarded accordingly. However, God is ultimately responsible for the outcome and impact of our work.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Colossians 3:23-24, 1 Corinthians 3:10-15 & 1 Corinthians 15:58, 2 Thessalonians 1:11, Ezekiel 36:30)
5) Our work is yoked with Christ.
We should work as if yoked to Jesus Christ. The “foundation of His throne is Righteousness and Justice, with Love and Faithfulness going before Him.” Our work, and the decisions we make, should be based on these principles: aligned with God’s moral standards, always concerned with the fair treatment of others and with a clear expression of Christ’s love for all people.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: 2 Corinthians 6:14-15, Matthew 11:29-30, Matthew 25:35-36)
6) Our work should be centered on service to others.
From the products and services we provide, to providing fair financial rewards, and providing opportunities for others to exercise their gifts and talents. Our work is an opportunity to seek the peace and well being of our organizations, cities, and nations. Humility and gratitude should be the hallmark of our character. We should always acknowledge God in our work and consider that being an ambassador for Him is a weighty, but honored, responsibility.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: 2 Corinthians 5:16-21, Matthew 7:12, Philippians 2:3-4, Galatians 5:13, 1 Peter 4:10, Matthew 5:13-14, 2 Corinthians 5:20, 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12)
7) A rhythm of work and rest is essential to life.
God invites us into a deliberate pattern of regular rest. These periods of rest are intended to be restorative and are also opportunities to intentionally take time to consider Christ and our relationship with Him.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Exodus 20:8-11, John 15:4, Hebrews 4:10) (Check out the Theology of Work Project's Article on Rest and Work.)
8) The use of wealth and our investments should be directed by God.
We should allow God to direct the use of all that He has provided through our work for the betterment of others and the furthering of His kingdom. These provisions include our gifts, time, financial capability and influence.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: 1 Corinthians 4:7, 1 Timothy 6:17-19, Acts 2:45)
9) God's work multiplies through relationships and through the local church.
We need to be in relationship with other followers of Christ to provide support and accountability. We should look for mentors and look to mentor others. We should commit to our local church body and help to bring the world of work into the church and the church into the world of work.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Acts 2:42-47)
10) Work is a gift from God.
We should always acknowledge that work is a gift from God, as is our ability to be happy in it. Alternatively, labor and achievement that spring from our envy of others is meaningless and will never bring contentment and joy. We look forward to the day when we will work together in perfect harmony in the presence of God in the New Jerusalem.
(Learn more in the Theology of Work Bible Commentary: Ecclesiastes)