Hello! Welcome back to one of my favourite series on this blog, where we explore what the Bible teaches us about a whole different bunch of topics. We’ve looked at what the Bible says about friendship, what the Bible says about fear, and now we’re digging into what the Bible says about productivity, working hard, all of that fun stuff! Do let me know if there are any topics that you particularly want me to explore in the future, I would love to hear your suggestions.
So, let’s get straight into it and see what the Bible says about productivity
Humans were created for work
“The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it. And the Lord God commanded the man, “You are free to eat from any tree in the garden; but you must not eat from the tree of the knowledge of good and evil, for when you eat from it you will certainly die.” The Lord God said, “It is not good for the man to be alone. I will make a helper suitable for him.”Genesis 2:15-18
For context, God then went on to create woman, after none of the animals were found as a suitable helped for Adam.
So, the very first thing that God got humans to do, was to work in the Garden – caring for the world that God had just created. And women too, were created by God in order to help with this work. From the very beginning, humans have worked. That work has looked different all throughout time, from caring for the Garden of Eden, to hunting for food to survive, to farming animals and crops, to working in mines and factories, and the ever-changing world of work we see now.
This work has clearly changed much over that time, from a task that was given by God, to doing what needed to be done to survive, to working to earn money. And of course, employment is just one of the things that we can be productive in. But as a starting point, I do think it’s interesting to see that from the moment God created humans, we have had a purpose that has included doing, working.
Work as if working for God
“Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for human masters,”Colossians 3:23
Much of the work that we do, particularly in employment, is for another human. We have a boss who we report to and who manages us, we are usually doing our work for the benefit of another human too in whatever way that is for your industry.
But, in this verse we are called to do all of that work as if we are working for God himself. To pour just as much love and service and effort into that work, as we would if our boss was God. Can you even imagine if God was your boss… team meetings might be a little different?
I also think that an important part of this verse is those first few words: “whatever you do”. So, this isn’t just talking about employment – this is talking about everything that we do. We should work with all our heart as we do the housework, as we look after our children, as we help at church events, as we blog or make videos or whatever it is that we do. Employment is not the only kind of work.
Steward what God has given to you
“After a long time the master of those servants returned and settled accounts with them. The man who had received five bags of gold brought the other five. ‘Master,’ he said, ‘you entrusted me with five bags of gold. See, I have gained five more.’ “His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’”Matthew 25:19-21
You can read this whole story, The Parable of the Bags of Gold, in Matthew 25:14-30.
This parable talks a lot about how we use what we have been given. The three men are given different amounts of gold, and their master responds to them based upon what they have done with that gold. Two of the men put their money to work and gained more gold, and their master declared: “Well done, good and faithful servant!”. The third man, however, hides the money and is declared wicked and lazy.
So, how we steward what we have been given matters. But don’t let this story lead you to believe that it is the amount of money that we make that is what matters to God. God doesn’t praise the two men because of the money they made, because they achieved a certain return on investment. He praised them because they were good and faithful. We are called to be good and faithful in all that we have been given.
I believe that this applies to a whole range of things. We need to steward the money we have, but we also need to steward our time, our influence over other people, our relationships, our bodies and energy, and all these things that God has given to us.
Don’t store up your treasures
“Do not store up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moths and vermin destroy, and where thieves break in and steal. But store up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where moths and vermin do not destroy, and where thieves do not break in and steal. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.”Matthew 6:19-21
Following on from the previous point, I think it’s always important, when we’re talking about productivity and work, to remind ourselves that we should not be storing our treasures on earth. Money, fame, property, status – these are all things that we store up on earth. They have no eternal value to us.
Instead we are called to store up our treasures in heaven. As Christians, we believe that when we die, we will be with God in heaven for all eternity. These earthly things, therefore, have very little significance to the rest of eternity. Our salvation, relationship with Jesus, holiness, sanctification; these are the things that have an eternal value for us and should be our focus. Therefore, when we talk about productivity and working hard, it is important to remember WHY we are working hard. Not for earthly benefits, but for eternity.
Laziness makes life harder for others
“A lazy person is as bad as someone who destroys things.”Proverbs 18:9 [NLT]
“Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.”1 Timothy 5:8
The work that we do, very rarely only affects us. Normally, we are providing for someone else or have some other way in which how hard we work affects others. This could be the fact that the work you are doing will financially support your family, the fact that the work you do benefits others practically (sharing information, providing a service etc.) or simply that if you didn’t do that work, someone else would have to do it instead.
I’m sure we’ve all been in situations where we were lazy and didn’t get something done, and then witnessed the impact that this had upon the people around us.
How do you feel about productivity? Can you think of any other Bible verses that teach us what the Bible says about productivity and working hard?