Why working wisely is good for you, and good for your colleagues
Proverbs is a fascinating book. As the writer observes the world around him, he draws conclusions about how we might live wisely in a world that is at times perplexing and uncertain (1:2). It’s no surprise then that the book has much to say about work, an observable daily occurrence that affects us all.
By some counts, the book has over 150 Proverbs which relate to our working lives. And as you read through these Proverbs there are some inescapable truths about work. Work is a positive part of life, a means by which God provides for our needs. It is the one who works who has food on his table (12:11, 28:19) and shelter over his head (24:27). It is something that we can be skilled in, as we seek to serve the city and the authorities of the land that we live in (22:29). And there is instruction in how it should be done; with honesty, fairness and patience (16:13, 16:11, 16:32). Indeed the one who works is wise (10:5).
In contrast, laziness is frequently criticised. The one who sleeps when work should be done is a “disgrace” (10:5). He lacks “judgement” (24:31). And it is a lifestyle which leads to poverty (28:19). In short, Proverbs sees the one who works as wise and the sluggard as a fool.
But the book’s teaching on work takes an intriguing turn in the final chapter. Harking back to Proverbs 8 where wisdom is personified as a woman, in Proverbs 31 wisdom is personified particularly as a working woman. She does her work vigorously (31:17), providing for the needs of those around (31:15). Her work brings her praise (31:31). Wisdom and work go hand in hand. There is a sense in which our work demonstrates and displays wisdom to the world around us.
And so it should be that our work does this. Work was made by God for His creatures to do as a means of displaying something of what He is like. We are workers, made in the image of the ultimate worker (Genesis 1:26-28). Thus our work is no small thing. It is a means by which we might display something of the wisdom of God. Indeed God Himself displays something of His wisdom by His own work (Psalm 104:24).
So doing your work with wisdom has important ramifications for your Christian witness to your colleagues. It is an opportunity to display something of the wisdom of the God you worship. Perhaps then regular reading of Proverbs to glean its wisdom regarding work is a worthy pursuit. Sebastian Traeger in his book The Gospel at Work suggests reading one chapter of Proverbs each morning as a way of doing this. “[Proverbs’] thirty-one chapters track with the thirty or thirty-one days of the average month. You always know which chapter to read based on the day of the month” (p. 156).
Get wise in the way you approach your work. Read Proverbs, Gain wisdom. And so display something of the wisdom of the God who made you to work in His image.
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