A Biblical Ethic of Work -- By: Larry E. McCall

Journal: Reformation and Revival
Volume: RAR 05:4 (Fall 1996)
Article: A Biblical Ethic of Work
Author: Larry E. McCall

A Biblical Ethic of Work

Larry E. McCall

The typical American adult spends approximately 60 percent of his time in work or work-related activities.1 Although issues relating to work dominate the lives of most adults, it is sad that the church has paid little attention to training Christians in biblical theology and ethic of work. Doug Sherman reports that the organization called Career Impact Ministries polled 2,000 professing Christians who regularly attend a church. Those polled were asked, “Have you ever in your life heard a sermon, read a book, listened to a tape, or been to a seminar that applied biblical principles to everyday work issues?” Sadly, more than 90 percent of those polled answered no.2

In modern American evangelicalism there indeed seems to be a dearth of teaching on this common, yet critical, issue of relating the Word of God to the typical workaday world. Thankfully, recent books such as Colson and Eckerd’s Why America Doesn’t Work and Sherman and Hendricks’ Your Work Matters to God are bringing the problem to the attention of many evangelical pastors and teachers. Those who have the responsibility of teaching God’s people need to address the questions that many Christians are asking regarding the relationship of their faith to their typical Monday-through-Friday work. Pastor Bill Hybels echoes the questions many Christians are asking when he writes, “How should the Christian view his or her work? How should he behave there? Should he enjoy his profession or merely endure it? Should the sincere follower of Christ leave the marketplace and enter ‘full-time Christian work’ as a sign of his maturity and deep-level commitment?”3

Many Christians are asking, “Is there a connection between Sunday and Monday?” The Reformers would have answered this question, “Yes!” They differed from Rome by doing away with the secular/ religious dichotomy. In teaching that every believer is a full-time priest in the service of

God, the Reformers emphasized that “the layman has a calling in Christ no less than the minister, and the daily labor of both, performed as consecrated sacrifice, is equally accepted as spiritual service.”4 In our day, however, by (largely) neglecting our Reformation and Puritan heritage on this issue,5 the evangelical church has implied by default that the answer is “No, there is little connection between Sunday and Monday.” Some have sou...

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