A Worker's Appetite Works for Him - Geneva College, a Christian College in Pennsylvania (PA)

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Biblical Wisdom
July 7, 2020

A Worker's Appetite Works for Him

by Dr. Bill Edgar, former chair of the Geneva College Board of Trustees, former Geneva College President and longtime pastor in the Reformed Presbyterian Church of North America (RPNCA)

Proverbs 16:26 – “A worker's appetite works for him; his mouth urges him on.”

A few people, who passionately love their work, believe that they eat to work, but if they were they to experience real hunger, they would realize that they work to eat. Even in Eden, Adam had to keep the trees (Genesis 2:15). The threat of hunger keeps us working, even when our work bores and exhausts us. Thus, a worker’s appetite for food and shelter works for him by urging him on to work.

What happens when people who are able to work can get food, shelter, and clothing without working? They become lazy, spending their time on gossip, quarrels, games, and trouble. The proverb, “The devil makes work for idle hands,” tells the truth. Therefore, the Apostle Paul instructed the new Church in Thessalonica not to feed people who would not work, writing,  For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: ‘The one who is unwilling to work shall not eat.’ We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. They are not busy; they are busybodies. Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the food they eat (II Thessalonians 3:10-12).” Welfare, whether from family, church, or civil government, that does not urgently encourage work or that is structured so as to make it irrational to earn more money, sabotages the connection God made between work, and eating. It keeps a person’s appetite from working for him.

Some people, of course, cannot work, and should be helped with food, clothing, and shelter by those who can. Thus Paul commands, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need (Ephesians 4:28).” And Jesus says that, on the Day of Judgment, he will welcome his followers into his presence, saying, “For I was hungry and you gave me food, I was thirsty and you gave me drink, I was a stranger and you welcomed me, I was naked and you clothed me… Truly, I say to you, as you did it to one of the least of these my brothers, you did it to me. (Matthew 25:35-36).” He speaks of those who are truly desperate and need help, such as in our day, war refugees, or the badly disabled, or those sick and unable to work.

Wise fathers and mothers, however, along with wise churches and societies, will not sever the relationship between work and eating that God has established. A worker’s appetite should be allowed to work for him, his mouth urging him on to work.

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Photo by Stephen Philpott on Unsplash