The Bible is not only a guide for spirituality, but also a blueprint for our day-to-day living. It advises us, directly or indirectly, on how we should go about our day-to-day chores and what attitude we should have toward them. It exhorts and encourages the believers to do their work diligently. God does not want us to be haphazard and shoddy in our work, whether at office or at home; whatever we do must glorify God. That is what Paul commands us: “So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God” (1 Cor.10:31).
Biblical Work Ethics
Christians sometimes ignore their secular work and are guilty of dereliction of duty. 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 has placed us wherever we are working right now. If we are careless at work, we dishonour God. But if we work conscientiously and diligently, we fulfil God’s purpose and glorify Him at our place of work.
In 1 Corinthians 7:17&24, Colossians 3:22-25, 2Thessalonians 3:10 and 2Timothy 3:16&17 the Apostle Paul has laid down rules and principles of work for Christian believers that call for sincerity, honesty and hard work under all circumstances. Even when our work situation is tough and we are sometimes discriminated against, we should give our best. Even if we dislike our boss for manipulating us with ulterior motives, we should work diligently for the growth of the organisation we are employed in (1Pet.2:18-20). Just because the pay is less, we are not to be slack in the duties and responsibilities entrusted to us, realising that we are serving God and are accountable to Him (1 Cor.7:17; Col.3:22-24). Therefore, there is no excuse for a Christian, for whom God’s help is available for the asking, to be careless and casual at work. We are to be submissive to authorities whom God has placed over us (Tit.3:1).
In the Old Testament, Joseph is an example of a loyal servant who worked hard for his master. He was a slave, without any rights; but his hard work and honesty earned him favour in the sight of his master, Potiphar, who knew that God was with Joseph. He was a trustworthy servant among the other servants, and Potiphar rewarded Joseph for his efficiency and loyalty, not merely with appreciative words, but by entrusting his whole household and all that he owned in Joseph’s hands (Gen.39:5).
Potiphar’s trust in Joseph does not end with that. A shrewd and good administrator sooner or later wins the confidence of his employer who gives him a freehand to do whatever he thinks is best, provided the end result is prosperity and success for the employer. The relationship between Potiphar and Joseph was more than just business level. The Bible says, “So he (Potiphar) left in Joseph’s care everything he had; with Joseph in charge, he did not concern himself with anything except the food he ate” (39:6)! Which boss will sleep peacefully if his servant has the key to his vault? Potiphar had that kind of freedom! 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 quality of work we do should not be dependent on how much benefit we will get; we should work for the work’s sake and for God’s sake.
Daniel was a meticulous worker. He was a perfectionist. 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 takes over (Dan.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 replaced; he found favour in the sight of the new ruler and secured a place second only to the King – in charge of the whole kingdom (Dan.6: 3).
However, the other administrators and satraps were envious of Daniel and devised a plan to find fault with him so that he will be sidelined and even eliminated. Their plan did not succeed because “they could find no corruption in him, because he was trustworthy and neither corrupt or negligent” (Dan.6:4). Several eyes that looked into the affairs of Daniel could not find even a single reason to block his promotion. He did his work perfectly. He was not negligent.
Employing Biblical Principles
Both Joseph and Daniel lived in hostile situations. Both were slaves: Joseph, a sold slave, and Daniel, a captive from Jerusalem. They did not have any relatives in high positions to show nepotism. They just had to put their skills to profitable use, while they trusted and honoured God in the face of all odds. They were sincere and diligent in the work entrusted to them. They won the trust of their masters and God honoured them!
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” (22:29).
God has called you with a high calling in Christ, wherever He may have placed you. Are you honouring Him by employing the Biblical principles of work ethics in your profession? The world has seen many workers who perform their duties only for money, security and fame, but very few who are honest, diligent and trustworthy. Are we, the followers of Christ, among those few?
Whatever work is entrusted to you, do it to bring glory to God.