Genesis 3:19 In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return.

Psalm 104:23 Man goeth forth unto his work and to his labour until the evening.

Proverbs 6:6 Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise:

7 Which having no guide, overseer, or ruler,

8 Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest.

Proverbs 10:4 He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich.

Proverbs 13:4 The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.

11 Wealth gotten by vanity shall be diminished, but he that gathereth by labour shall increase.

Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.

Proverbs 31:10 Who can find a virtuous woman? for her price is far above rubies.

27 She looketh well to the ways of her household, and eateth not the bread of idleness.

Ephesians 4:28 Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.

II Thessalonians 3:6 Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.

7 For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you;

8 Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you:

9 Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us.

10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

11 For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.


MEMORY VERSE: Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. —II Thessalonians 3:12-13


CENTRAL THOUGHT: Work and industry is enjoined in Scripture, from the Old Testament to the New, as being a command given to Adam and Eve, as being part of the Old Law, and is very much connected to the Christian faith and experience under the new dispensation.




Proverbs 10:4 “Slack”: negligent; idle; also, deceitful. “Diligent”: comes from a word meaning sharpen; sharp; acute. The word is also translated trench (as of the sharp tool for digging one), decision (a sharp mind; decisive), threshing instrument (sharp tool), or gold, as of the sharp edge of the miner’s tools or the decisive earnestness with which the gold miner goes about his work.

Proverbs 31:10 “Virtuous”: strength; efficiency; valiant; able. A woman of faculty, capacity and ability.

Proverbs 31:27 “Looketh well”: keeps watch or careful surveillance over all that goes on in the family. “The bread of idleness”: the bread of an idle woman, without labor. A virtuous woman feeds upon bread won by active labor and conscientious diligence.

II Thessalonians 3:7 “Follow”: imitate. “Disorderly”: a word applied to soldiers out of rank.

II Thessalonians 3:8 “Chargeable”: a word that contains the idea of a burdensome expense.

II Thessalonians 3:9 “Ensample”: example; pattern; model. From a word which signifies any mark that is cut or engraven to stamp things into its own likeness.

II Thessalonians 3:10 “If any would not work…”: “‘Let him not be fed.’ The Thessalonians are not to be misled into a false charity: giving food in Christ’s name to persons who are capable of working and able to get work, and are too indolent to do so. The support which is here forbidden to be given to these disorderly persons might come either directly from the private liberality of individuals, or from some collected church fund administered by the deacons” (Ellicott’s Commentary for English Readers).

II Thessalonians 3:11 “Busybodies”: over-busy; over-doing; a bustling disposition; busy in useless and superfluous things; minding everybody’s business but their own.

II Thessalonians 3:12 “With quietness”: with silence; calmness of spirit and noiseless modesty; the opposite of bustling.




  1. When was the command for a man to work first given?
  2. Share how God balanced work with rest in the law.
  3. Share how Paul enjoined honest toil, and how he was an example of it.
  4. What woman in the Old Testament instructed her son about the industry of the wife?
  5. What New Testament verse explains the purpose for honest labor?




In Eden Adam was given the work of keeping and maintaining the garden, and Eve was to be his helper. After they fell into transgression, God gave Adam the command that he was to labor in the sweat of his brow; he was still to work, but because of sin it would just be harder now, with sweat and sorrow—hard labor—associated with it. Eve’s work of bearing children and maintaining a home would also be with sorrow—hard labor. That has been the duty of the man and woman ever since. Satan tempts people to try to get the laborer’s reward by theft, idleness or deceit. God ordained that men should work.

In the law, God instituted the command, “Honour the sabbath day” by designating that six days were for men to work. He made the Sabbath for man, Jesus said, for his health and well- being; that after hard work, it was commanded for him to rest. All during the continuance of the law, this literal rest was strictly enjoined. The New Testament covenant obviously made changes for the worship and practice of believers in Christ; the rest was not confined to a certain day; neither was the worship or holiness. A spiritual significance was given to the Sabbath-day rest. However, the importance of labor was not any less, and the apostle endeavored to bring this out to the Thessalonians when he let them know that the gifts of charity were not passed out to those who would not work. We should also consider that the literal Sabbath was made for our health and well-being, and although the spiritual meaning took the emphasis off of a certain day, the principle of giving the body and mind a day of rest is still wise and beneficial. The early Christians paused on the first day of the week to gather and worship in commemoration of the resurrection, and to collect offerings for the poor.

Work is God’s gift to mankind. The poet’s beautiful observation of the divine order of creation in Psalm 104 includes the picture of man going to his God-ordained labor each morning and returning home each evening. We have used several verses from Proverbs to show the wisdom and honor of diligent labor. The words of Lemuel’s mother, as she painted a picture of the industrious woman whom she recommended for his wife, show a woman who isn’t afraid or too slothful to do the work of the home.

The apostle shows in Ephesians 4 the purpose of honest labor: that an individual might have something he or she could give to someone else in a time of need. Paul was an example of the doctrine he preached. He was a tentmaker, laboring earnestly so that the saints in various congregations where he ministered would not be encumbered by supporting him financially.

—Angela Gellenbeck




I Timothy 5:8 says, “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel.” This scripture shows the great spiritual importance connected with honest labor and the responsibility that is placed upon the head of each family. For many years our society, as a professed God-fearing nation, placed that same value on the man’s responsibility in the home. The values of our society began to change when women started to leave the home and join the workforce, big government began to entice men by promising financial support without having to labor for it, and men have shifted their responsibility as heads of their homes onto others and have drifted into substance abuse and lives of shame. The disintegration of the home comes at a high moral and financial cost to our country. For a society to remain free from governmental tyranny, the members of that society must retain responsibility and honor.

We must, as Christian brethren, be lights before this godless society in even this part of our religion. We must teach our young men and women to be faithful in their God-given places in the home; to value and love hard work; and to refuse the empty and indolent lifestyles of drunkenness, inordinate pleasure and selfishness!

—Angela Gellenbeck




Growing up, my father would sometimes recount to his children something passed along to him from his maternal grandmother. She felt that her father, called “Papa” by everyone in the region, was the meanest man alive, so while still at home she determined that she would “marry the first thing that came along in pants!” Well, along came this jockey-sized man who took an interest in her, and they married. However, her new husband let her know of an epiphany he had as a youth, saying, “I said ‘Work’ was my mother and I vowed I’d never hit her a lick!” Sad to say, with him never intending to work a day in his life, the marriage did not last and the two separated, leaving my great-grandmother alone to fend for herself and their two young daughters.

Every time my father related this story to us I found my great-grandfather’s statement humorous, but Daddy had a serious reason for sharing this story with us. You see, he had no intention of us adopting the attitude toward work that our great-grandfather had, or even to follow in his own footsteps when it came to work. He himself as a boy only had a single chore— to take out the trash—and all the other household work was done by his mother and older

sisters. He had no father around to show him duties for which men are generally responsible, so when he and my mother married, she was appalled to learn what little he could do. When each of their first five children ended up being boys, they determined that in their household there would be no such thing as “boys’ work” and “girls’ work”, there was just “work.” We all learned to cook, clean, do laundry, mow lawns, do yard work, paint, fix minor plumbing issues, help out with home remodeling, do some basic carpentry, and work together to perform whatever was needed to keep our home maintained. We often teased our little sisters, once they came along, how happy we were to have sisters so we could divvy up the work at home along more traditional lines.

Ultimately, what we were taught is that God has ordained that both men and women learn to be partners in fulfilling all He has called a family to do, whether in the home, at church, or in assisting others in need. Namely, to obey the words of the Preacher when he said, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…”

—Fari Matthews