Is Hard Work Against Grace?

When I was a boy I was asked:
“If a storm is coming your way, do you paddle to the shore or do you pray to God?”

This article is for Christians who are against the concept of ‘work’. It’s a load of misconception to live the slothful life and say: “according to The Bible, I don’t have to work anymore.” 

I want to make it clear that these verses about staying away from ‘work’ is about Salvation and not about our occupations and responsibilities here on earth.

And if by grace, then is it no more of works:
otherwise grace is no more grace.
But if it be of works, then is it no more grace:
otherwise work is no more work.
Romans 11:6

It is clear in Romans 11:5 that the debate between works and grace has nothing to do with our daily ‘works’ or occupations. It talks about ‘the election of grace’ or righteousness by grace. It is all about salvation through the cross of Jesus Christ.

In Christian Counselling, I encounter clients both young and old struggling with the conflict on whether to exercise their self-effort through ‘work’ (paddling the boat) or to exercise their faith by resting in grace. These are not lazy people looking for a way out of the rat race but honest Christians who were misled into thinking that giving your best and working hard on a task is a sign of a lack of faith in God’s grace. They misconceive Romans 11 and think that working hard for a salary is falling out of God’s grace. A lot of behaviours are included to this ‘works’; the more common ones I encounter include:

  1. Taking medications for a sickness (will going for chemotherapy disqualify God’s healing?)
  2. Studying hard for exams (If I study, I negate God’s favour)
  3. Preparing for a job interview or a presentation (The Bible said that The Holy Spirit will take over)

God is not against all these ‘hard works’ as all these have nothing to do with Salvation. Taking your medications for your healing does not in any way insult the cross of Jesus Christ.  Working hard to gain your salvation, however, does.

Working for a salary has nothing to do with Salvation and it does not insult The Lord at all.  In fact, we are encouraged to give our very best when we are at this work:

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;
Colossians 3:23

In this world, we work to sustain ourselves, not be because of the lack of faith on the one who promised to provide for us but to honour and glorify His name by being useful to society and by not being a burden to anyone around us.  

Hard work is not sin, it is not an expression of a lack of faith in God, and it is definitely not an enemy of His grace. Hard work is actually the expression that we have already received His overflowing love and grace.  For how can we work without love? And how can we love without first receiving His love? Come to think of it, I’ve never met a hard working person who has no love in him. We work hard to sustain ourselves, we work hard to bless our loved ones, and we work hard to contribute to The Kingdom of God. There is nothing here that will run counter to His love and grace.  True Christians are saved by the cross of Jesus Christ, and we are not afraid of hard work.

We love because He first loved us.
1 John 4:19


Next: What about Resting in Christ?