(This article was published first on May, 2013 edition of the Light of Life)
Bible is not only a guide for spirituality but also for our day to day living. Bible also advises us, directly or indirectly, about how we should go about in our day to day chores and what attitude we need to have about them. In this regard Bible exhorts the believers to do their work diligently. God does not want us to do the work which we do – whether at office or at home – in a haphazard way but in a manner which will bring glory to God. That is what Paul commands us in I Cor 10: 31 – “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God”.
Biblical Work Ethics:
Christians sometimes ignore their secular work and are guilty of dereliction of duty. But it is wrong to think that the jobs which we do are not sacred. We need to learn the basics right. God is the ruler of the whole universe. He is the one who places us in the particular place where we are working right now. So if we do badly at work, we bring disgrace to God. But on the contrary, if we fulfil the purpose for which God has placed us at that place, we bring glory to God.
Bible proposes a strong, non-negotiable work ethics. We need to work hard. Even when our work situation is tough and unjust we need to give our best. Even if we hate our boss for what he does, we need to labour for good of the institution or the company. Even if the pay is less, we need to toil to complete the God-given task. There is no excuse for a Christian to shy away from hard work. Bible also commands us to be submissive to authorities whom God has placed above us.
Joseph’s Trust-able-ness due to Hard Work:
There are many in the Bible who stand out because of their hard work. Let me cite two. Joseph in the Old Testament is an example of a loyal servant who worked hard for his master. He was primarily a slave. He does not have any rights. But through hard work and honestly he gained favour in the sight of his master Potiphar. God was with him. The master was able to see that. He became a trust-able servant among other servants. This trust was not just expressed by appreciative words by Potiphar but by entrusting his whole ‘household and of all that he owned’ (Gen 39: 5) to Joseph.
Potiphar’s trust in Joseph does not end with that. If a person is a good administrator and a shrewd person, boss could give him/her a freehand to do anything, provided he brings profit. But here the relationship between Potiphar and Joseph is not just business level. Bible says, ‘he [Potiphar] did not concern himself with anything except food he ate’ (39: 6). This is a wonder. Which boss will sleep peacefully, if a low-rung servant has the key to his vault? But Potiphar did exactly the same. The reason for this blind trust is that Joseph became a person who could be trusted without an iota of doubt. To earn trust we need to work hard and sincerely. The work we do should not be based on how much benefit we will get but for the work’s sake and for God’s sake.
Daniel’s Spotless Work Ethics:
Second person in the Bible who was a hard worker is Daniel. He was a meticulous worker. He did things perfectly. He did not leave anything to chance. He survived the administrative change without losing his honoured position. Just imagine, Babylonian king is killed and a Mede king Darius is taking over (Daniel 5: 30). What will the new ruler do to consolidate power? He will replace all the high officials of the old regime with his loyal and trusted people. But Daniel was not removed and moreover he found favour in the sight of the new ruler that the ruler was planning to make him second to the King by making him in-charge of the whole kingdom (Daniel 6: 3).
At this point Daniel is attracting jealous eyes. Other administrators and Satraps were envious. They wanted to find fault with him so that his promotion will be stopped. The result of their scrutiny was the quality which make Daniel the favourite for all the rulers: “They could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt or negligent” (Daniel 6: 4). Several eyes which looked into the affairs of Daniel could not find even a single worthy reason to block his promotion. He did his work perfectly. He was not negligent.
Will we adapt this Work Ethics?
Both Joseph and Daniel lived in a hostile situation. Both were slaves: Joseph, a sold slave and Daniel, a captive from Jerusalem. They did not have any relative in high position to show nepotism. They just had to rely on their skills. They trusted in God. They did the work which had been given to them sincerely. They won the trust of their masters. They became great. The promise in the book of proverbs is true in their lives. “Do you see a man skilled in his work? He will serve before kings; he will not serve before obscure men” – Proverbs 22: 29
God is calling you to have a strong work ethics in your lives. Work ethics based on the Bible. World has seen so many workers who did their job for money or fame. But it should see honest, diligent workers who want to do their work without neglect in Christians. Whatever work is entrusted to you, do it to bring glory to God.