Work and Wages


  1. Humans have been made with purpose which includes work (Genesis 1: 26-28, Psalm 139:13-16)

  2. Human life is valuable and one way it can be valued is through anticipated labour (expected productivity) (Leviticus 27)

Figure 1:  Paradigm for understanding various work arrangements.  On the vertical axis, an individual’s current working status is represented.  On the horizontal axis, an individual’s volition is represented as to whether their current working status is voluntary or involuntary.



  1. God’s work as the basis for human activity (Genesis 1:1 – 2: 3)

  2. Human work as God’s calling (Genesis 1: 26-28, Genesis 2: 15, Deuteronomy 8: 6-18)

  3. The fallenness of work (Genesis 3: 17, Ecclesiastes 2: 4-11, 17-23, 4: 8)

  4. Purpose of work is to serve the kingdom (Matthew 25: 14-30, Luke 19: 11-27, Colossians 3:23-34)

  5. Wages as God’s gift: the payment of wages (Luke 17: 7-10, 1Timothy 5: 18, Deuteronomy 15: 12-18, 24: 14-15, 25: 4, Jeremiah 22: 13, Colossians 4:1)

  6. Voluntary Lack of Work

    1. Sabbath rest (Genesis 2: 3, Exodus 16: 15-30, Exodus 20: 8-11, Exodus 31:12-17)

    2. Idleness and unemployment (1Thessalonians 4: 11-12, 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-15, Ephesians 4: 28)

  7. Involuntary Work

    1. Social unrest over wages (James 5: 1-6)

    2. Importance of standing by contractual agreements regarding dates and payments (Gen 29:14 - 30, Gen 30:25 – 43)

    3. Wages should be paid on time (Le 19:13, Dt 24:15)

    4. Slavery (Deuteronomy 15: 12-18, Exodus 21: 2-6, Leviticus 25: 39-55, Ephesians 6: 5-9)

  8. Involuntary Lack of Work

    1. Provision for those involuntarily lacking work (gleaning Lev 19:9-10, Lev 25:31-43, Deut 23:24-25, Deut 24:19-22)

    2. Generosity towards and rehabilitation of those experiencing hardship (Luke 10:29-37)


  1. Part of a human being’s telos is do productive work. Productive capacity varies among people according their God given endowments. (1a, 1b, 2a, 2b, 2d)

  2. We emulate and worship God in our productive work, but given that we live under the curse in a fallen world we don’t find ultimate satisfaction in work but rather a mixture of joy and toil. (1a, 2a, 2b, 2c)

  3. True motivation of work should not be money or worry about providing for tomorrow, but rather the fulfillment of our purpose in earthly life with trust God to meet our needs. (1a, 2b, 2e)

  4. Followers of Christ should be set apart by their work habits from those who don’t follow Christ – including their work ethic, their Sabbath rest from work, their work life balance, and their motivation. (2b, 2d, 2e, 3a)

  5. If you choose not to work, but are capable of working; you should not benefit from the charity of others. (3b, 4a)

  6. Employers are obligated to fulfill their contracts and keep their promises; employees are dependent on these arrangements and changing them is an abuse of power. (4a, 4b, 4c).

  7. You are more than what you do. Human dignity exists independently of the type work one engages in and one should not be looked down upon for their current employment situation. (1a, 2b, 2e, 4d, 5a, 5b)

  8. Humans should be valued as the most important resources of a firm; it is more important to pay attention to the work/life circumstances of employees than to achieve the most optimal level of efficiency. (2d, 2e, 4a, 4b, 4c)

Ben Beranek and Katya Shaton