“Everyone should . . . find enjoyment for all his hard work.”—ECCLESIASTES 3:13.
1-3. (a) How do many people feel about their job? (b) What view of work does the Bible promote, and what questions will we consider in this chapter?
FOR many people in today’s world, work is anything but a pleasure. Laboring long hours at a job that they do not particularly enjoy, they dread going to work each day. How can those with such a mind-set be motivated to take a personal interest in their work—let alone find satisfaction in their job?
2 The Bible promotes a positive view of hard work. It says that work and its fruitage are a blessing. Solomon wrote: “Everyone should eat and drink and find enjoyment for all his hard work. It is the gift of God.” (Ecclesiastes 3:13) Jehovah, who loves us and always has our best interests at heart, wants us to find satisfaction in our work and to enjoy the fruits of our labor. To remain in his love, we need to live in harmony with his viewpoint and his principles regarding work.—Read Ecclesiastes 2:24; 5:18.
3 In this chapter, we will consider four questions: How can we find enjoyment for our hard work? What types of work are not for true Christians? How can we balance secular work with spiritual activities? And what is the most important work that we can do? First, though, let us examine the example of the two greatest workers in the universe—Jehovah God and Jesus Christ.
THE SUPREME WORKER AND THE MASTER WORKER
4, 5. How does the Bible indicate that Jehovah is a productive worker?
4 Jehovah is the Supreme Worker. Genesis 1:1 states: “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” When God completed his creative work involving the earth, he pronounced the results “very good.” (Genesis 1:31) In other words, he was fully satisfied with all his earthly work. Jehovah, “the happy God,” no doubt found great joy in being a productive worker.—1 Timothy 1:11.
5 Our industrious God never stops working. Long after physical creation respecting the earth was completed, Jesus said: “My Father has kept working until now.” (John 5:17) What has the Father been doing? From his heavenly realm, he certainly has kept active in guiding and caring for humankind. He has brought forth “a new creation,” spirit-begotten Christians who will eventually rule with Jesus in heaven. (2 Corinthians 5:17) He has been working toward the fulfillment of his purpose for humans—that those who love him gain everlasting life in a new world. (Romans 6:23) Jehovah must be very pleased with the results of this work. Millions have responded to the Kingdom message, being drawn by God and adjusting their life to remain in his love.—John 6:44.
6, 7. What long record of working hard does Jesus have?
6 Jesus has a long record of working hard. In his prehuman existence, he served as God’s “master worker” in the creation of all things “in the heavens and on the earth.” (Proverbs 8:22-31; Colossians 1:15-17) When on earth, Jesus continued to be a hard worker. Early in life, he learned the building trade, becoming known as “the carpenter.”* (Mark 6:3) This trade involves strenuous work and a variety of skills—especially so in the era before sawmills, supply stores, and power tools. Can you imagine Jesus going out to get his own lumber—perhaps even felling trees and hauling the wood to wherever he was working? Can you picture him constructing houses—preparing and installing the roof beams, making the doors, and even building some of the furniture? Jesus undoubtedly knew firsthand the satisfaction that comes from hard work skillfully done.
7 Jesus was an outstandingly diligent worker in carrying out his ministry. For three and a half years, he was intensely occupied with this all-important work. Wanting to reach as many people as possible, he used his days to the full, rising early and working on into the night. (Luke 21:37, 38; John 3:2) He journeyed “from city to city and from village to village, preaching and declaring the good news of the Kingdom of God.” (Luke 8:1) Jesus literally covered hundreds of miles, traveling on foot along dusty roads to take the message of the good news to people.
8, 9. How did Jesus find enjoyment for his hard work?
8 Did Jesus find enjoyment for his hard work in the ministry? Yes! He sowed seeds of Kingdom truth, leaving behind fields that were ripe for harvesting. Doing God’s work brought Jesus such strength and sustenance that he was willing to forgo food for the sake of getting the work done. (John 4:31-38) Think about the satisfaction he must have felt when at the end of his earthly ministry he could truthfully report to his Father: “I have glorified you on the earth, having finished the work you have given me to do.”—John 17:4.
9 Surely Jehovah and Jesus are the foremost examples of ones who find enjoyment for their hard work. Our love for Jehovah moves us to “become imitators of God.” (Ephesians 5:1) Our love for Jesus impels us to “follow his steps closely.” (1 Peter 2:21) So let us now examine how we too can find enjoyment for our hard work.
HOW TO FIND ENJOYMENT FOR OUR HARD WORK
10, 11. What can help us to cultivate a positive attitude toward our job?
10 Secular work has a place in the life of true Christians. We want to find satisfaction and a measure of contentment in our work, but this can be a real challenge if we find ourselves working at a secular job that is not to our liking. How is it possible to find enjoyment for our work under such circumstances?
11 By cultivating a positive attitude. We cannot always change our circumstances, but we can change our attitude. Meditating on God’s viewpoint can help us to cultivate a positive attitude toward work. For example, if you are a family head, reflect on the fact that your job, no matter how menial it may seem to be, enables you to provide material necessities for your family. Thus caring for your loved ones is no small matter in God’s eyes. His Word says that one who fails to provide for his family “is worse than a person without faith.” (1 Timothy 5:8) Recognizing that your job is a means to an end—making it possible for you to carry out a God-given responsibility—can help you to find in your work a measure of fulfillment and purpose that may elude your coworkers.
12. In what ways is it rewarding to be diligent and honest in our work?
12 By being diligent and honest. Working hard and learning how to do our job well can lead to blessings. Diligent, skillful workers are often highly valued by their employers. (Proverbs 12:24; 22:29) As true Christians, we must also be honest in our work—not stealing money, materials, or time from our employer. (Ephesians 4:28) As we saw in the preceding chapter, honesty is rewarding. An employee with a reputation for honesty is likely to be trusted. And whether our employer takes notice of our example as a hard worker or not, we can have the satisfaction that comes from having “an honest conscience” and knowing that we are pleasing the God we love.—Hebrews 13:18; Colossians 3:22-24.
13. Our good example in the workplace may have what results?
13 By recognizing that our conduct can glorify God. When we maintain a high standard of Christian conduct at our place of work, others are bound to notice this. With what result? We may thus “adorn the teaching of our Savior, God.” (Titus 2:9, 10) Yes, our fine conduct can cause others to see the beauty of our way of worship, making it more attractive to them. Just think of how you would feel if a coworker responded to the truth because of your good example in the workplace! Most important, consider this: What could be more rewarding than knowing that your fine conduct glorifies Jehovah and makes his heart rejoice?—Read Proverbs 27:11; 1 Peter 2:12.
USING DISCERNMENT IN OUR CHOICE OF WORK
14-16. When facing decisions about employment, what key questions do we need to consider?
14 The Bible does not spell out in detail what is acceptable and what is not when it comes to secular work. This does not mean that we can accept just any kind of employment no matter what it involves. The Scriptures can help us to choose productive, honest work that is pleasing to God while avoiding employment that would be displeasing to him. (Proverbs 2:6) When facing decisions about employment, there are two key questions for us to consider.
15 Would doing this particular work in itself constitute an act condemned in the Bible? God’s Word clearly condemns stealing, lying, and the making of idols. (Exodus 20:4; Acts 15:29; Ephesians 4:28; Revelation 21:8) We would reject any employment that required us to do such things. Our love for Jehovah would never allow us to accept a job that involves engaging in practices that violate God’s commands.—Read 1 John 5:3.
16 Would doing this work clearly make us an accomplice in or a promoter of a wrong practice? Consider an example. Working as a receptionist is not wrong in itself. What, though, if a Christian were offered such a job at an abortion clinic? Granted, his job assignment would not require him to help with the abortion procedures directly. Nevertheless, would not his regular work there support the operation of a clinic that exists to perform abortions—a practice that is contrary to God’s Word? (Exodus 21:22-24) As lovers of Jehovah, we do not want to be closely linked with unscriptural practices.
17. (a) What factors can we weigh in making decisions about employment? (See the box “Should I Take the Job?”) (b) How may our conscience help us to make decisions that please God?
17 Many employment issues can be resolved by carefully analyzing the answers to the two key questions posed in paragraphs 15 and 16. In addition, there are some other factors that we do well to weigh when making decisions about employment.* We cannot expect the faithful slave to establish rules that will cover every situation that may arise. Here is where discernment is needed on our part. As we learned in Chapter 2, we need to educate and train our conscience by studying how to apply God’s Word in our daily life. If “through use” we train our “powers of discernment,” our conscience can help us to make decisions that please God and enable us to remain in his love.—Hebrews 5:14.
KEEPING A BALANCED ATTITUDE TOWARD WORK
18. Why is it not easy to maintain spiritual balance?
18 Maintaining spiritual balance is not easy in these “last days” with their “critical times hard to deal with.” (2 Timothy 3:1) Finding a job and holding on to it can be a real challenge. As true Christians, we recognize the importance of working hard to provide for our family. But if we are not careful, pressure in the workplace or the world’s infectious materialistic thinking could interfere with our spiritual pursuits. (1 Timothy 6:9, 10) Let us consider how we can keep our balance, making sure of “the more important things.”—Philippians 1:10.
19. Why is Jehovah worthy of our full trust, and what does such trust help us to avoid?
19 Place your full trust in Jehovah. (Read Proverbs 3:5, 6.) Is he not worthy of such trust? After all, he cares for us. (1 Peter 5:7) He knows our needs better than we do, and his hand is never short. (Psalm 37:25) We therefore do well to listen when his Word reminds us: “Let your way of life be free of the love of money, while you are content with the present things. For [God] has said: ‘I will never leave you, and I will never abandon you.’” (Hebrews 13:5) Many full-time servants can testify to God’s ability to provide life’s necessities. If we fully trust that Jehovah will care for us, we will avoid becoming unduly anxious about providing for our family. (Matthew 6:25-32) We will not allow secular work to cause us to neglect spiritual activities, such as preaching the good news and attending meetings.—Matthew 24:14; Hebrews 10:24, 25.
20. What does it mean to keep a focused eye, and how can you maintain such an outlook?
20 Keep your eye focused. (Read Matthew 6:22, 23.) Having a focused eye means keeping our life uncomplicated. A Christian’s eye is focused on a single purpose—the doing of God’s will. If our eye is thus focused, we will not be obsessed with chasing after a high-paying job and a more elaborate lifestyle. Neither will we get caught up in the never-ending quest for the latest and best material things that advertisers would have us believe we need in order to be happy. How can you maintain a focused eye? Avoid burdening yourself with unnecessary debt. Do not clutter your life with possessions that consume inordinate amounts of time and attention. Heed the Bible’s counsel to be content with “food and clothing.” (1 Timothy 6:8) Seek to simplify your life as much as possible.
21. Why do we need to establish priorities, and what should come first in our life?
21 Set spiritual priorities, and stick to them. Since we can do only so much in life, we need to establish priorities. Otherwise, less important things could swallow up precious time, crowding out the more important things. What should have top priority in our life? Many in the world place primary emphasis on pursuing higher education in order to have a lucrative career in this system. Jesus, however, urged his followers to “keep on . . . seeking first the Kingdom.” (Matthew 6:33) Yes, as true Christians, we put God’s Kingdom first in our life. Our pattern of life—the choices we make, the goals we set, and the activities we pursue—ought to show that Kingdom interests and God’s will are more important to us than material concerns and secular pursuits.
WORKING HARD IN THE MINISTRY
22, 23. (a) What is the main work of true Christians, and how can we show that this work is important to us? (See the box “My Decision Led to a Life of Joy and Contentment.”) (b) What is your determination regarding secular work?
22 Knowing that we are living deep in the time of the end, we keep focused on the main work of true Christians—preaching and disciple making. (Matthew 24:14; 28:19, 20) Like our Exemplar, Jesus, we want to be intensely occupied with this lifesaving work. How can we show that this work is important to us? The majority of God’s people devote themselves to the preaching work wholeheartedly as congregation publishers. Some have arranged their affairs to serve as pioneers or missionaries. Recognizing the importance of spiritual goals, many parents have encouraged their children to pursue a career in the full-time service. Do zealous Kingdom proclaimers find enjoyment for their hard work in the ministry? Indeed, they do! Serving Jehovah whole-souled is the sure way to a life of joy, satisfaction, and countless blessings.—Read Proverbs 10:22.
23 Many of us have to spend long hours in secular work to provide materially for our family. Remember that Jehovah wants us to find enjoyment for our hard work. By bringing our attitude and actions into harmony with his viewpoint and principles, we can find satisfaction in our work. Let us, however, be determined never to allow secular work to distract us from our main work—that of declaring the good news of God’s Kingdom. By giving this work priority in our life, we show our love for Jehovah and thereby remain in his love.
The Greek word rendered “carpenter” is said to be “a general term for a worker in wood whether he worked on houses or furniture or any other type of wooden objects.”