All the quotes were borrowed from: Online Parallel Bible.
Our lives are to be a balanced path called a vocation. Our vocations include many elements, one of which is honest work. It is the plan of God for every human being to seek and do honest work. From the beginning of human existence as recorded in Genesis, to the admonitions of the apostles in the New Testament, every able bodied person is to do some sort of honest work.
Not all work worthy of doing has a paycheck attached. Think about that. It is a very important concept because in our culture today we tend to only value work that brings a paycheck.
Housewives do not have paychecks and yet that is extremely important work. Parenthood does not have a paycheck and it is far more valuable and important work than nearly any other. The many people who volunteer do work that is good and honest but again, there is no paycheck attached. Religious dedicated to prayer and service may not earn a paycheck either, but their work is worthy and honest and valuable.
Work that has a paycheck is rather essential, but we need to balance that with the knowledge that some very important work does not.
Two things that are condemned are work that is not honest and able bodied people who could work but who do not choose to do so.
WORK IS GOOD
Genesis 2:15: “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” NIV
This is before the fall, when Man was as yet untarnished by sin. In the perfection of the first creation, MAN was to WORK. Due to the original harmony the work was always successful, but due to the loss of that first perfection and the entrance of Sin into the world, our work is now far more laborious– but mankind is never-the-less expected to work. Only those who CANNOT work due to age, infirmity, illnesses, or handicaps are to be supported by freely given gifts. The able bodied should all do honest work. Those who are working, can also be helped from the donations to the poor, but those who WILL not work must not be helped.
2 Thessalonians 3:10: “For also when we were with you, this we declared to you: that, if any man will not work, neither let him eat.” Douay-Rheims Bible
No society can possibly earn enough to support people who could work but choose not to do so. The able bodied who refuse to work are stealing what is rightfully to go to those who cannot work. Laziness and theft should not be rewarded because both are sins.
The Bible lists widows and orphans, and tradition for both Jews and Christians has always to care for the handicapped and ill. But the able bodied not so much! Paul had to tell the Thessalonians to stop feeding able bodied people who were not working so that the free will gifts offered for the care of those who could not work would not be squandered on those who could work.
1 Thessalonians 4:11: “And that you use your endeavour to be quiet, and that you do your own business, and work with your own hands, as we commanded you: ” Douay-Rheims Bible
God made human beings to work for their living, it is essential to human dignity that honest work be part of every person’s life. But not all honest work carries a paycheck, and yet, it is none-the-less honest work.
What of a situation where a person who cannot get a job due to a handicap desires to work? That person should feel no shame in receiving the help owed to those whose handicaps prevent them from working as the able bodied are commanded to do, but seek out honest volunteer work that is within your capacities and let that be your contribution, whatever you can do–do it honestly and for God.
Ephesians 4:28 “He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.”
Honest work, however humble, is God’s plan for human beings. Don’t think that those widows in the scriptures were idle! The need for honest work to build our human dignity is not lost simply because one cannot, due to age, illness, or handicap hold a modern paying job. As Believers we need to make certain that those who cannot hold a regular job are still able to contribute where they can and are honored for their contributions. A handicapped person volunteering is seeking to contribute to others in need and we should recognize this!
Titus 3:14 “Our people must learn to devote themselves to doing what is good, in order that they may provide for daily necessities and not live unproductive lives.”
Again, God’s plan for people is to work. Honest work, such as the work of a housewife for the health and good of her family and the work of the businessman, or the work of the builder, or the work of the person who mows lawns, or the work of the janitor, or the work of a teacher, or the work of a doctor, or the work of a physicist, or the work of a writer or the work of the priest who brings the Sacraments to the people, or the work of the nun who prays for all humanity: all sorts of honest work are the plan of God for people. Human dignity is best served by honest employment and humans who gain in dignity will avail themselves of other goods such as education and the good to all society grows out of the original good of honest work. Thus every vocation includes work.
Religious orders have always included some sort of honest work in their daily lives. Be that work the work of constant prayer, or growing all their own food, or running schools and hospitals, or making soaps or roasting coffee to sell, none of which earns a paycheck for the person in religious life, is still honest work and leads to the order earning money to be self supporting.
If the plan of God is for all able bodied people to do honest work, then we must look at our own society and study what we are doing and ask, “Does this program or project serve God’s plan or set up conditions that thwart it?” Any system which rewards people for harming themselves or participating in sin is itself contrary to scripture and should be changed. Think on this when considering our current system of welfare.