Key Scriptures: Exodus 26-30, Exodus 31:1-11, Exodus 16:2-5 and 15-29, Colossians 3:23, 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12, Proverbs 14:23, Proverbs 12:11, 1 Timothy 5:8, Ephesians 4:28, Genesis 2:15, Proverbs 20:4, Proverbs 24:30-34, Proverbs 18:9, Hebrews 6:10, 1 Timothy 6:10, Matthew 5:16, 1 Peter 4:10-11, James 2:18
Guiding Question: What will our lives look like if we have a godly work ethic?
Optional Introductory Activity: Plan and have the supplies necessary for students to complete a service project during the activity portion of the lesson. Try to choose one that is very repetitive or requires a lot of hard work. (See http://teachonereachone.org/activity-ideas/ for service project ideas.)
Tell students that today they will complete a service project. Explain the project is difficult. Before giving students the details, stop and ask students the following questions: (Note: You may have to encourage them to give honest answers.)
- What was the first thing you thought when I said “service project”?
- What about when I said “difficult”?
- What would you have thought if I had said the project would take several hours or several days to complete?
- What would you have thought if I had said that after you completed the project you would be sore, dirty and exhausted?
Lesson: (Questions for students are in bold italics.) Did you know God has a lot to say about working and our work ethic? In fact, it’s pretty clear God has some strong feelings on the topic.
Before we start looking at what God thinks about working, we need to understand there are two basic types of work discussed in the Bible. The first is the work needed to be done to take care of yourself and your family. This could be a job, chores or even school since it prepares you for a good job later.
The second kind of work involves serving others and sharing our faith. Often in the Bible, this type of work is called “good works”. This includes serving the Church, other Christians and other people in the world who aren’t Christians.
The first time work by a person is mentioned in the Bible is Genesis 2:15. We don’t talk about it much, but Adam had to work in the Garden of Eden. We tend to think work didn’t start until they sinned and left Eden. In reality, they worked in Eden. It just became a lot more difficult to complete the same tasks when they left Eden.
If you look at the various people in the Bible, different types of work are mentioned. Even back then though, there must have been people who didn’t want to work. In fact, the book of Proverbs has quite a bit to say about working hard instead of being lazy. Back then, someone who was lazy and didn’t want to work was called a sluggard. If you’ve ever seen a slug, they move very slowly and are just still quite a bit of the time.
Let’s read some of those Proverbs:
- Proverbs 14:23 – What does this Proverb teach us? Some people talk a lot about all of the work they are going to do, but then never actually do it. The Bible says those who live life like that will be poor.
- Proverbs 12:11 – Some people let fun things distract them from the work they should be doing. The Bible calls these fun things “worthless pursuits”. It says those who spend all of their time on them lack sense. What are some worthless pursuits in our time? What is the difference between taking a fun break and spending all of our time on worthless pursuits?
- Proverbs 20:4 – What principle does this Proverb teach? Often, you need to plan ahead and do some prep work in order to see results later. The Bible says if we don’t do this planning and prep work, we may not be able to get results at the last minute.
- Proverbs 24:30-34 – What does the Bible say the life of the sluggard looks like? What could you say today that would have the same meaning?
- Proverbs 18:9 – This verse is probably the harshest about being lazy and not working. Who does it say those who don’t work are like?
But God doesn’t just discuss work in the Old Testament. The New Testament has a lot to say about work, too. Some of these verses are about the first kind of work we discussed and others are about good works.
- Colossians 3:23 – What do you think it means to work as if you are working for God?
- 2 Thessalonians 3:6-12 – What do these verses tell us about God’s expectations for us regarding work? What consequence does he suggest for those who are lazy?
- Hebrews 6:10 – Who does this verse tell us notices our work for others? Why does that matter?
- Ephesians 4:28 – What hint does this verse give us about what God wants us to do with some of the money we earn from working?
- 1 Timothy 5:8 – What does this verse say God thinks about people who keep all of the money they earn for themselves and don’t take care of their families?
- 1 Timothy 6:10 – What does this verse tell us happens when we work because we love money and all of the things it can buy us?
- Matthew 5:16 – Why does God want us to do good works – serving others and sharing our faith?
- 1 Peter 4:10-11 – What does Peter say about how we are to use the gifts God gives us?
- James 2:18 – What does James write about good works?
If you had to summarize everything we have learned God wants us to know about work today, what would you say?
Skills Activity: Review the basic principles about work from the lesson. Have students complete the service project you have chosen. Allow some time after completing the project for discussion.
Ask students which of the principles from the lesson were hard for them to remember and practice as they worked. Have them share why these particular things were difficult for them. Was there any part of the work that was easy for them? Why? What if the work had been chores or a difficult school assignment? What if they had a job bussing tables or being a janitor?
Application Challenge: Read the instructions God gave Noah for building the Ark in Genesis 6:9-22. How hard would it have been to do this work when you didn’t totally understand the importance of doing it? What do you think would have happened if Noah procrastinated or didn’t do the work? What type of work is most difficult for you to do? This week, practice doing that type of work with the godly attitudes we discussed in this week’s lesson.