From Jim O'Brien
March 22, 2019

Ethics of Work

Hi Friend,

There is good evidence to support the concept that nations are ultimately a product of their spiritual beliefs. Max Weber was a German writer who believed the Protestant Work Ethic was largely responsible for the development of America.

He pointed out that the Puritans had an ethic of hard work which was combined with a willingness for self-sacrifice. Besides that, they did not believe in spending money on frivolous pursuits. The natural result was the accumulation of money. It wasn't the end goal-merely the inevitable consequence.

The Bible became indissolubly linked to capitalism. Agricultural entrepreneurs encouraged laborers to spend time harvesting by offering a higher wage with the expectation that laborers would see time spent working as more valuable and so engage in it longer. Weber noted that societies that had more Protestants also had a more developed capitalist economy.

At the beginning of the Protestant Reformation Martin Luther taught that man has a "vocational calling" linking work to God. Work has a spiritual basis. The Protestant Reformation gave dignity to work, however mundane. Work itself had value as a "ministry" of service devoted to God and therefore as sacred as any religious calling.

The roots for this come from the very first book of the Bible. Even before man was cast out of the Garden, "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and keep it." (Genesis 2:15) The purpose for which God placed man on the earth was to work. Under this idea, work is not a curse-it is a blessing. The Protestant Ethic was the opposite of English nobility expressed by the Dickens character Pip, who aspired to leave his uncle's blacksmith trade and become a "gentleman" of aristocracy who did not work.

Furthermore it reflected the words of the Apostle Paul who warned the early church, "For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat." (2 Thess. 3:10)

However strong Paul's admonition may seem it reflects the reality that work gives purpose to life. Furthermore it teaches us that man is made in the image of God who rested after He had spent six days working.

Until next time,

Jim O'Brien