Just before Labor Day, The Wall Street Journal published an article by Nicholas Eberstadt titled “The Idle Army: America’s Unworking Men.” Less than 85% of American men between the ages of 25 and 54 are working, a percentage even lower than the percentage in the years following the Great Depression. Nearly 10 million men in this category are not working, and apparently are not seeking work. Eberstadt writes,
In short, the American male’s postwar flight from work is a grave social ill. Strangely, nearly everyone—the news media, major political parties, intellectuals, business leaders, policy makers—has managed to overlook it. The urgency of the moment is to bring this invisible crisis out of the shadows (emp. added).
A sizable minority of American men are fleeing from work. These men, who refuse to work, are described in the Bible in 2 Thessalonians 3:10-12:
For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.
If our society would follow Paul’s principle in this passage, there would no longer be a substantial portion of the population that sat on the sidelines while the rest labored.
Eberstadt goes on to explain how over 100 million Americans are working harder than ever, but at the same time the number of those refusing to work is on the rise. The obvious result is that those who refuse to work are being supported by those who do work. But notice that the Bible teaches not that society should provide for those who refuse work, but the opposite. Again, from the apostle Paul to the Thessalonians:
But we urge you … to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you, so that you may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one (1 Thessalonians 4:10-12).
God has dignified work. It is natural for people to get satisfaction from the various jobs they do. Work provides not only personal satisfaction, but also the means for society to function. We are grateful to God for the ability and opportunity to work, to His glory (Colossians 3:23).