A Christian professional student writes, “Proverbs 23:4 says not to weary yourself to obtain wealth. Does that rule out my accepting a job with a large firm that requires its associates to work 60-80 hours per week?”
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I commend you for raising this question. God will help you decide the answer for yourself as you prayerfully consider some fundamental spiritual principles. Success in any endeavor is God’s gift. “Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it” (Psalm 127:1). For that reason, it is futile to seek ultimate fulfillment in one’s work. “It is vain for you to rise up early, to retire late, to eat the bread of painful labors; for God gives to his beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2). Jesus promised that God will care for his own people, even as he provides for the birds and the flowers. We work because that is God’s plan for us on this earth. At the same time, we can trust God to meet our material needs while we make his kingdom our highest priority (Matt. 6:19-33).
Equally important, the Bible encourages diligence, planning and hard work. Proverbs recommends the busy ant as a model of industry and foresight (Prov. 6:6-8). The “sluggard,” in contrast, lacks what he needs because his laziness leads to ruin (Prov. 13:4). “Whatever your hands find to do, do it with all your might,” exhorts the author of Ecclesiastes (Eccl. 9:10). Paul urges Christians to “do your work heartily, as for the Lord” (Col. 3:23). The Scriptures do not support shoddy work or a slothful attitude.
The false god of materialism constantly tempts. The way to healthy balance here is perspective and priority. Specific applications must take into account one’s stage of life, family circumstances, real needs and other such details. Steer your life by such biblical principles and you will make wise decisions that honor God. Keep asking God to guide your path, one step at a time. He has promised that he will do just that.