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February 6, 1999

The Benefits of Work

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All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty. PROVERBS 14:23
When your alarm goes off at 6:00 on Monday morning after a hectic weekend, you may find it difficult to remember why you go to work. Why is it, you wonder, that I can’t stay in bed for a few more hours, then spend the day doing what I like to do? It slowly dawns on your sleep-fogged brain: That’s right—I like being able to pay the bills. I like being able to provide for my family. And, most of the time, I even like what I do.
The writer of Proverbs would offer a hearty affirmation. Work is a profitable way for us to spend our days. First, there are the obvious reasons. We get paid for our work, which enables us to meet our material needs and then some. Depending on our circumstances and our decisions, the material profit is lesser or greater.
But work is not only profitable because of what is produced. It is also good because of what it does for our character. The process itself is valuable. Hard work occupies our minds—it directs our energies and sharpens our faculties. It also keeps us from temptation. There’s not much left over for schemes of corruption or immorality if most of our energy is funneled into work. Work gives us goals and purpose, a reason to get out of bed on Monday morning, as we look forward to the next days, weeks, months, and years. And finally, hard work is therapeutic. During times of turmoil, confusion, and loss, it gives us an outlet, a way to get away from the source of our pain and do something productive. Then, when the pain has passed or at least eased, we can look back on that difficult time and see something we’ve accomplished.
Without work, all we’ve got is talk. Proverbs doesn’t say talk itself is bad, but mere talk—talk unaccompanied by action—leads to poverty. If we don’t work, it isn’t long before physical hardship sets upon us. And spiritual poverty is not far away, especially if we let temptations preoccupy our thinking.
Yes, work is hard. It bends our backs, roughens our hands, and taxes our minds. But it’s also a blessing. The next time you have a hard time crawling out of bed to get ready for work, say to yourself, “All hard work brings a profit.” It might not bring a bounce to your step and a sparkle to your eye, but it just might get you into the shower.

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