Three Laws of Labor

“The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied” (Proverbs 13:4).

Today we continue the theme of laboring for God by examining three laws of labor set by God.

1. The sluggard comes up empty.
We’ve all heard the old saying, “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” Actually, that saying comes from the Bible:

“For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat” (2 Thessalonians 3:10).

The Apostle Paul was a man of compassion and even wrote about it (Colossians 3:12). But he had little sympathy for those who shunned hard work. The sluggard has little because he deserves little. He does not take advantage of present opportunities, so he goes without.

2. The diligent get rewarded.
We can illustrate this truth with a biblical example. God told Joshua to take the Promised Land. Occasionally God made it easier for Joshua by providing extraordinary divine assistance (see Joshua 3:14-16; 6:20; 10:12-14). But generally Joshua had to engage the enemy, dodge arrows, plot strategies, and basically get to work. God gave Israel the Promised Land through a well-prepared army and diligent leaders. The diligent get rewarded in this life, often abundantly. God helped them, but chose to use their efforts to grant them the Promised Land.

3. We can labor for the wrong reward.
In the parable of the dishonest manager, the master commended the steward for his diligent and enterprising efforts, even though his motives were twisted (see Luke 16:1-8). Jesus then summarized the main teaching of that parable:

“The master commended the dishonest manager for his shrewdness. For the sons of this world are more shrewd in dealing with their own generation than the sons of light. And I tell you, make friends for yourselves by means of unrighteous wealth, so that when it fails they may receive you into the eternal dwellings” (Luke 16:8-9).

We still need to labor for the right reward. God directs us to labor for an imperishable crown (1 Corinthians 9:25). When we labor hard, we will get results. But will these results honor God? Which world do we labor for? What rewards do we pursue? May the Lord direct our hearts toward laboring for things that bring Him honor.

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