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Wisdom About Work from Proverbs 31

FaithFi: Faith & Finance | Mar 27, 2024


Show Notes

When it comes to work ethic, there’s nobody we like better–aside from Jesus, of course–than the woman described in Proverbs 31. We don’t know her name, but her actions and attitudes are worth studying and imitating…no matter what kind of work you do.

A Biblical Work Ethic From Proverbs 31

First, a note about Proverbs.  It’s part of the “wisdom literature” found in the Old Testament. We refer to Proverbs a lot, since there are many nuggets of financial truth there. Proverbs 31 is the final chapter, and the description of the “woman of noble character” is written as a poem, with each line beginning with a different letter of the Hebrew alphabet.

Proverbs 31:10 introduces the “woman of noble character” who is “worth more than rubies”, because she sets the standard for trustworthiness and generosity towards her husband and all those around her.  She’s also a top-notch businesswoman.

Here are some of the characteristics that make the Proverbs 31 woman such a great example of a biblical work ethic.

First, she “works with eager hands”. She has a positive attitude towards work, knowing that diligence can produce many benefits.

Next, verse 15 tells us, “She gets up while it is still night; she provides food for her family…” The Bible makes it clear that providing for your family is a primary responsibility. She takes it very seriously.

The Proverbs 31 woman is also a careful entrepreneur. In verse 16 “She considers a field and buys it…with the fruit of her hands she plants a vineyard.”  So, part of the biblical work ethic involves expertise – gaining useful skills and using them for the benefit of your family and community.       

In verse 17, “She sets about her work vigorously; her arms are strong for her tasks”. Living and working well requires persistence and determination.  You don’t reach your goals just sitting around watching YouTube!       

Proverbs 31 also offers us a picture of generosity in verse 20: “She opens her arms to the poor”. This woman of character is so successful in her work…that she is able to be generous with her surplus.  Are you working just for yourself, or so you can help others also?   

Next, “…she speaks with wisdom…” in verse 26. A person of noble character uses their experience and authority to teach others.  To put it another way, this woman’s work ethic is the “water that raises all boats”, because everyone benefits from her industry.     

It comes as no surprise in verse 27 that “she does not eat the bread of idleness”.  It’s pretty clear that a biblical work ethic means NOT being lazy!

Well, that’s an impossibly impressive resume, but I think the most important quality of a woman of noble character is that she follows and honors the Lord. Verse 30: “Charm is deceitful, and beauty is vain, but a woman who fears the Lord is to be praised”.  She serves God first, and all her success springs from this priority.

The Importance Of Rest

You might look at this biblical portrait of a godly worker and wonder how she does it all.  She’s running a farm, marketing her products, teaching, mentoring, and taking care of a household at the same time.  I think we have to understand that this is a portrait of virtue at work…not a blueprint for what you have to do next week.

Another point I’d like to make here is about “rest”. It might not look like the Proverbs 31 woman got much of that…but her success points to the fact that she did know when to go and when to stop.

God does call us to work – for His Kingdom, for our families, and for the community – with the same commitment we see in the Proverbs 31 woman.  We work to pay the bills, to give, to save, and to invest, as she did.  It’s part of how God has made us. But work isn’t all there is.  We need to rest sometimes, too.

Perhaps you find things moving too fast in your life.  Working late nights and weekends might seem necessary, but burning the candle at both ends is ultimately unproductive.  You’ll find that exhaustion leaves no energy for the most important things –time with the Lord and relationships with others. 

You don’t have to go full throttle all the time.  But if you are feeling overwhelmed, be comforted by the words of Jesus in Matthew 11:28: “Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest.”

We can learn a lot from the Proverbs 31 woman about what it means to live with personal and financial integrity. I encourage you to read Proverbs 31 today and consider how you can apply a biblical work ethic to your life and work.

On Today’s Program, Rob Answers Listener Questions:

  • What are the differences between prepaid cards and credit cards? How does that compare to a secured credit card? 
  • I’ve come into about $20,000 recently and I’m trying to figure out how to best invest it. What are your suggestions? 
  • I’m currently on Federal Workers Comp and I’m wondering if I’ll be able to draw social security when that time comes if I’m still on Workers Comp. 
  • I have a friend who has not paid her taxes for five years. How would that affect her children’s inheritance and what steps can she take to kind of get out of that situation?
  • Can I pay off my remaining $125,000 mortgage in 3-7 years by moving it to a home equity line of credit? I was told that I could deposit his paycheck into the HELOC each month, use the HELOC to pay bills, and pay off the mortgage much faster that way.

Resources Mentioned:

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