“…if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either.” 2 Thessalonians 3:10
The strong work ethic that once defined America is disappearing. Millions of men in their prime working years have voluntarily dropped out of the workforce. The apostle Paul was straightforward about those who lack the motivation to work. If one is able, but unwilling to work, it is unjust for him to receive the necessities of life provided free by those who willingly work (AMP). The Bible has a lot more to say about why developing a strong work ethic is so important.
First, God is a worker and we are made in His image. Jesus said, “My Father is working until now, and I Myself am working” (John 5:17). Since God works, and Jesus works, we should work. In fact, work was a natural part of life before sin entered the world. “Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it” (Genesis 2:15).
Work is also essential to survival. “He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, but he who pursues worthless things lacks sense” (Proverbs 12:11). The problem is that we’ve removed the essential nature of work in the name of human compassion. Giving someone a helping hand should be temporary, not a way of life. There’s truth in the old adage, “Give a man a fish and he will eat for a day. Teach a man how to fish and you feed him for a lifetime.”
Paul demonstrated what a strong work ethic looks like. Although he had some financial support from the Philippian Church, he worked as a tentmaker while preaching the gospel. He was willing to do hard physical labor to support his ministry and in order not to burden new believers. “For you recall, brethren, our labor and hardship, how working night and day so as not to be a burden to any of you, we proclaimed to you the gospel of God” (1 Thessalonians 2:9).
Developing a strong work ethic is more than a traditional American quality—it’s part of following Jesus. Work has always been in God’s plan. He uses our work to work in our lives. It provides us with a sense of purpose and satisfaction. And when God places us in a job, He also places us on a personal mission field. Like Paul, our work opens doors to talk about our faith and to share the transforming love of Jesus.