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What Does the Bible Say About Overworking?
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What Does the Bible Say About Overworking?

Overworking is a common issue that many people face today. With increasingly demanding jobs, financial pressures, and the desire to gain more money and status, it’s easy to become consumed by our work. While hard work in itself is not wrong, overworking can be detrimental to our health, relationships, and spiritual life. What guidance does the Bible offer on this topic? There is much wisdom we can gain about finding the right balance and priorities regarding work.

Introduction

Work is a gift from God that allows us to use our talents and provide for ourselves and others. Scripture encourages hard work and warns against laziness. However, the Bible also cautions against excessive labor that leads to burnout, neglecting other priorities, and greed. Overworking goes against God’s design for rest, relationships, caring for our bodies, and trusting in Him rather than our own efforts.

As Christians, our identity and worth come from Christ, not our jobs. We serve God first, not our work. It’s important to examine our motivations and recalibrate if necessary so that work does not become an idol in our lives. God graciously invites us to experience the fulfilling yet balanced life He intends for us.

Key Takeaways:

  • God designed us to work but also to enjoy regular seasons of rest. Overworking violates His rhythm of life.
  • Relationships should take priority over work; balance is key. Overworking can harm family ties and community connections.
  • Greed, unhealthy ambitions, and chasing after money and status often drive overworking. This reveals misplaced idols of the heart.
  • God is our ultimate provider. Overworking stems from trusting in our own efforts rather than relying on Him.
  • Our worth comes from our identity in Christ, not worldly success or effort. Overworking reveals a performance-based mentality.
  • Balance brings joy and health. The abundant life Jesus offers us involves properly balanced work.
What does the bible say about overworking?

The Bible Promotes Diligent Work but Warns Against Overworking

On numerous occasions in Scripture, God’s people are instructed to work diligently and warned against slothfulness.

“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).

“A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich” (Proverbs 10:4).

However, the Bible also cautions against excessive work:

“Do not overwork to be rich; because of your own understanding, cease!” (Proverbs 23:4 NKJV)

“Come to me, all who labor and are heavy laden, and I will give you rest” (Matthew 11:28).

“In vain you rise early and stay up late, toiling for food to eat – for he grants sleep to those he loves” (Psalm 127:2 NIV).

These verses reveal that both diligence and rest are biblical values. Overworking falls into the extreme of excessive labor that God warns against. We must find the right balance in our working lives.

God Established the Sabbath for Rest

A key example of God establishing boundaries against overwork is the Sabbath commandment:

“Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God” (Exodus 20:8-10 NKJV).

The Sabbath offered refreshment for the Israelites who had been slaves in Egypt without days off. God invites us to experience this same renewal. Setting aside work for a day of worship and rest curbs our tendency to overwork.

Jesus emphasized that the Sabbath was made for man’s wellbeing:

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Then he said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath” (Mark 2:27-28 NIV).

Not legalistically following rules, but regularly resting, honors the purpose of Sabbath. We can overwork even while avoiding paid employment on Sundays if we fail to rest and reconnect spiritually on the Lord’s Day.

Overworking Can Harm Health and Relationships

In addition to violating the Sabbath principle, overworking has many other negative effects that Scripture warns about. It harms bodily health, family ties, and community:

“Each day’s trouble is sufficient for that day” (Matthew 6:34 NIV).

“A tranquil heart gives life to the flesh, but envy makes the bones rot” (Proverbs 14:30 ESV).

“Do not wear yourself out to get rich; do not trust your own cleverness” (Proverbs 23:4 NLT).

“All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty” (Proverbs 14:23 NIV).

“But if anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for members of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever” (1 Timothy 5:8 ESV).

Work can easily consume all our time and energy if we let it, isolating us from family and friends. We need margin in life for relationships. Overworking and neglecting rest and community goes against God’s design.

Motivations: Pride, Greed, and Idolatry

Driving overworking is often pride in wanting to achieve status, greed for riches, or finding identity in work rather than Christ:

“Do not overwork in order to be rich; be wise enough to desist” (Proverbs 23:4 NKJV).

“For where you have envy and selfish ambition, there you find disorder and every evil practice” (James 3:16 NIV).

“You shall have no other gods before me” (Exodus 20:3 ESV).

“What does it profit a man to gain the whole world yet forfeit his soul?” (Mark 8:36 NIV).

These motivations reveal idols that have taken God’s rightful place. He alone is meant to define our worth and calling. Overworking often signals misplaced identity and priorities.

God is Our Ultimate Provider

Rather than our jobs, God is meant to be our first source of security and meaning. Overworking demonstrates lack of trust in Him:

“And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? If then you are not able to do as small a thing as that, why are you anxious about the rest?” (Luke 12:25-26 ESV).

Commit your work to the Lord and your plans will be achieved” (Proverbs 16:3 NIV).

“Cast your cares on the LORD and he will sustain you; he will never let the righteous be shaken” (Psalm 55:22 NIV).

When we overwork, we act as if everything is up to us rather than God. Recognizing His sovereignty is key to finding balance.

Our Worth Comes from Christ Alone

Overworking often reflects believing our identity comes from worldly success. But Scripture offers a different basis for our worth:

“My grace is sufficient for you, for my power is made perfect in weakness” (2 Corinthians 12:9 NIV).

“There is neither Jew nor Gentile, neither slave nor free, nor is there male and female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28 NIV).

“For we are God’s handiwork, created in Christ Jesus to do good works, which God prepared in advance for us to do” (Ephesians 2:10 NIV).

Whatever our job, we have dignity as people made in God’s image. Our primary calling is to follow Christ and carry His love, not worldly achievements.

Overworking Robs Us of Enjoying God’s Blessings

By consuming all our energy, overworking ironically robs us of the ability to enjoy the very blessings our work brings:

“I denied myself nothing my eyes desired; I refused my heart no pleasure. My heart took delight in all my labor, and this was the reward for all my toil. Yet when I surveyed all that my hands had done and what I had toiled to achieve, everything was meaningless, a chasing after the wind” (Ecclesiastes 2:10-11 NIV).

“The sleep of a laborer is sweet, whether they eat little or much, but as for the rich, their abundance permits them no sleep” (Ecclesiastes 5:12 NIV).

Lasting satisfaction and rest come from God Himself, not our striving. We need to regularly detach from work to savor His good gifts.

Jesus Offers Us True Rest amid Life’s Burdens

While work itself is a gift from God, overworking is ultimately a heavy burden. Only finding our rest in Christ brings relief:

“Come to me, all you who are weary and burdened, and I will give you rest. Take my yoke upon you and learn from me, for I am gentle and humble in heart, and you will find rest for your souls. For my yoke is easy and my burden is light.” (Matthew 11:28-30 NIV)

Grace frees us from earning God’s approval through work. We can work diligently without the crushing weight of overworking.

Living the Abundant Life in Balance

Rather than the treadmill of overwork, Jesus offers us satisfaction and refreshment:

“The thief comes only to steal and kill and destroy. I came that they may have life and have it abundantly.” (John 10:10 ESV)

“Come, everyone who thirsts, come to the waters; and he who has no money, come, buy and eat! Come, buy wine and milk without money and without price.” (Isaiah 55:1 ESV)

God has so much more for us than just pursuing work and money. Abundant life involves balanced work, play, worship, family, and community.

Key Principles

  • Work diligently but don’t overwork. God designed us to work but also rest.
  • Resting honors God. Regular Sabbath-keeping pushes back against overworking.
  • Guard against greed. Seek contentment rather than chasing riches through overwork.
  • Nurture relationships. Don’t let work isolate you or harm family ties.
  • Find identity in Christ. Don’t base your worth on worldly success or effort.
  • Trust God. Release anxiety about provision to Him rather than striving.
  • Enjoy life. Don’t sacrifice experiencing God’s blessings in the process.

Conclusion

Overworking robs us from the refreshment and enjoyment God desires for us. It reflects misplaced priorities such as greed, discontentment, pride in achievements, and trusting in oneself rather than God. Scripture offers wisdom and grace for finding the balance God designed us for. As we recalibrate towards diligence without overdrive, we can experience the true rest only Christ provides. The abundant life He promises enables us to flourish in our work while still nourishing our souls.

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Pastor duke taber
Pastor Duke Taber

Pastor Duke Taber

All articles have been written or reviewed by Pastor Duke Taber.
Pastor Duke Taber is an alumnus of Life Pacific University and Multnomah Biblical Seminary.
He has been in pastoral ministry since 1988.
Today he is the owner and managing editor of 3 successful Christian websites that support missionaries around the world.
He is currently starting a brand new church in Mesquite NV called Mesquite Worship Center, a Non-Denominational Spirit Filled Christian church in Mesquite Nevada.