17. Sober

  1. Being a Christian in work is being sober. Following Jesus Christ in our work means to be sober because Jesus is sober. Jesus rested from His work,407 put His good works in perspective, and transferred His work to His Father.408 God the Father is also a God of rest. God rested on the seventh day of his creation work and He commands us to rest. God created and recreated. God is a god of creation and recreation. From the Holy Spirit we receive the heart, wisdom, and strength to work soberly.
  2. Working soberly means realizing that our work is not our soul and salvation. Our work is not everything. If we put our heart and soul in our work, our soul will have no salvation. Our work matters, but our soul and salvation do not depend on it. Jesus grants our soul salvation. Work does not give what is most important in life; only Jesus gives that. Through His life, death, and resurrection He has paid the highest price to give us our true destiny and joy. If we believe that our work can give us salvation, then we forget the gospel and believe a lie.
  3. Working soberly means putting our work into perspective. Faith puts our work into perspective: there are always more important things. To praise our work is nonsense. It is a vain hope that our work brings us meaning, purpose, or certainty of happiness. God’s work is much bigger than our own work.409 Our work depends on God’s work, not on our own effort and creativity. God does not want that we are fully satisfied by our work, because then our work would come between God and us. God Himself is the real satisfier of human basic needs,410 while He does not need us or our work for his dignity and glory.
  4. Working soberly means putting ourselves in our work into perspective. Faith in God puts our work into perspective: we are with our work mere channels and passers-by. Faith is not about what we do, but about how God works in and through us. Our work is temporary because we are on our way to eternity. When our work stops, another takes over.
  5. Working soberly means our work does not define our identity. Even though our work is so important, it does not define who we are. We are not who we are in our occupation or in the kind of work we do, but we are who we are before God. Through the gospel, we are, first of all, a child of God. We don’t need work to give us an identity. We have our identity through Christ. Neither do we need work to make us feel accepted, valued, or loved. All of these is ensured by Jesus.
  6. Working soberly means not making our work into an idol. Our work is not vain, but neither is it an idol. Work is an idol if it keeps us from God. God does not want us to idolize anything or anyone in our work. When we are full of our work, there is no room for God. When work becomes our slave driver, it drives us away from God. When we work for Jesus, the tendency to worship our work disappears.411 When we follow Jesus in our work, then Jesus is at the center of our work, and He then completes our work.
  7. Working soberly means not being addicted to our work. The more we make ourselves dependent on our work, the more vulnerable our relationship with God becomes. Therefore, we must avoid becoming addicted to our ambitions in our work. We must not become addicted to status, power, and income.412 Likewise, we must avoid making other people dependent on us and on their work that we thereby make it more difficult for them to turn to God.
  8. Working soberly means being realistic. As long as Jesus has not returned yet, then there is sin in the world. No matter how well we design our work, our organizations, and the world, they are and will remain broken because there is always scarcity and selfishness. We do not save the world with our work. Therefore, when we design our work, we must consider that people are sinners. Communities cannot function properly if we think that people are perfectly virtuous and will always do good. It is unrealistic to think or suggest that we can design the world and our work as a kind of heaven on earth.
  9. Working soberly means entrusting our work to God. Allowing God to lead in our work means that we must be able to let go of things in our work. Letting go of things does not mean letting them run their course but entrusting them to God. The Holy Spirit helps us to surrender ourselves to God, to listen to God’s taking the lead in our work, and to place our work in God’s hands. Trying to bend everything to our will is a sign of unbelief, as if God is not there, does not matter, does not provide. We can trust that God is working, and therefore we can work in a relaxed way. Even if we work hard, we cannot reduce our dependence on God even a fraction.413
  10. Working soberly means being cautious about making long-term plans, hoarding resources, and insuring every risk, for it is God who rules and provides.414 The future is in God’s hand.415 Those who attempt to determine the future are trying to sit on God’s throne. Therefore, we should not be obsessed with career planning. Our career does not matter to God, but He does plan our career for us.
  11. Working soberly means not letting our trust in God depend on the success of our plans. Trust in God is independent of whether our work plans succeed or fail.416 Even when we make our plans with God,417 our trust in God should not depend on the success or failure of our plans.
  12. Working soberly means not taking a passive attitude toward God. Trusting God does not mean sitting on our hands waiting for magical solutions to our problems. God doesn’t just help us when we are in need; He also helps us by preventing needs. By taking safety measures, we can reduce accidents. By taking health measures, we can reduce diseases. By building up reserves, we can cope with setbacks. Thus, we give God the space to also take care of us in this manner.418 If we trust God to provide for everyone’s needs, then it discourages us from working for the needs of others. But if our trust in God does not propel us to work for the needs of others, this suggests that we do not really trust God. That God helps when we are in need means we must not abuse this by becoming reckless in our work.
  13. Working soberly means realizing that while working is unique in our lives, it is not the only thing. God does not expect us to only work. We have also been given other duties and responsibilities.
  14. Working soberly means having leisure time. Leisure time, like work, is a gift from God.419 Leisure is the time to rest from all the fatigues and worries that work brings and to recharge for our upcoming work. This recharging is not only physical and mental, but also spiritual.420 Work and rest belong together.421 Creating and recreating go hand in hand with God. Those who cannot rest from work are slaves to their work.
  15. Working soberly means having enough time for our family, health, and faith community. We must avoid being so busy with our work that we neglect these important things. We do not have to work ourselves to death. We do not honor God when we go too far with work and destroy ourselves or loved ones. To work is to worship God; to work excessively is to worship the work. If we get absorbed in our work, then we forsake God.
  16. Working soberly means honoring Sunday as a day of rest. God rested after the creation not because He needed rest, after all God cannot get tired, but to set an example for us to rest ourselves.422 God could rest after creation because He had done everything right. We need to rest because there is so much that we do not do well. The day off is to recognize this and to bring us closer to God. Therefore, humanity began its active life not with its own work but with celebrating the day of rest. First comes the day of rest, only then comes the first day of work. First there is time to hear that God says yes to creation and to humankind, and then there is plenty of time left to go to work. So, we work from the day of rest, God’s Day of rest. The day of rest points ahead to the eternal, genuine rest that the believers will have with God. When we work on the day of rest, we are saying to God that eternal rest is not necessary for us either. By rejecting the day of rest, we are not only rejecting God’s command to rest423 but also His gift to enjoy in a unique way His blessings on this day. Moreover, we then do not trust God’s providence that He will take care of us. Sunday rest is evidence that we trust God. It is also a visible testimony that God is at the center of life and that human production and consumption take place in a world that is ordered, blessed, and restrained by the God of all creation.
  17. Working soberly means working as little as possible on the day of rest. The day of rest is meant not only to recover and recharge but also to consciously take time to reflect about God and our relationship with Him.424 Since the resurrection of Jesus Christ, the day of rest has been a Feast Day celebrating His resurrection. The day of rest is an ideal way to remind ourselves that our work is not an endless cycle of drudgery that leads nowhere, but rather it is a purposeful activity that is interrupted by worship and rest. Therefore, as much as possible, we avoid work that interferes with this Feast Day, and if we do engage in paid work on this day, we must have very good reason. Works of mercy, necessity, and proclamation of the gospel are permissible as Sunday work.425
  18. Working soberly means using our faith community to equip us to work from faith. The Christian faith community maintains a way of working for those who challenge and seek to change the fallen world. Leaders in faith communities have an important responsibility to equip their members to be Christians in their work. Even though the work may still occupy us so much, we must watch out that our work does not continue to occupy us during our faith community’s meetings, especially worship services.
  19. Working soberly means studying the Bible. The Bible not only gives insight and direction for work, it also comforts, liberates, and heals. We can only work well if we are biblically well versed so that we can work in the world according to God’s will and to His honor. We remain disciples in our work because God wants to continue to teach us.426 Our work must not come at the expense of our Bible study. If our work comes before reflection time for and with God, then it is high time to make other choices.427
  20. Working soberly means praying for our work. After our work we should not only rest but also pray, pray that our work may bear fruit.428 If we do not pray for and about our work, then we are saying to God that we do not need Him in our work. It is also good to begin our workday with prayer about our work so that we are reminded for whom and in whose presence we are working. In prayer we can speak to God about our joys and thanks, doubts and dilemmas, temptations and sins in our work.429 We may pray that God will give us discernment of good and evil in the work. We may pray that God will prosper the communities where we work.430 We may pray that God will lead us and our colleagues.
  21. Working soberly means working prayerfully. It is not only praying and working but also working prayer and prayerful work. To work to God is to worship God. Our workplace, like any other place, is a place where we may pray while we are busy. If in our works we know ourselves to be called by God, then we may call upon Him when our works do not work.
  22. We may pray this before we start our work:

Lord God, You who own and care for the world,

We thank You that we may be Your property and that You give us work and talents.

Lord, without You we are nothing and our works are nothing.

Therefore, please grant us Your Holy Spirit so that we may do our work.

Bless our work so that it may be for Your glorification and a testimony to you, for the service of other people, and for the development of society.

This we ask for Jesus sake, who is also our example in our work and whose love we wholeheartedly want to pass on.


We may pray after our work:

Lord God and Father,

Having come to the end of our work, we want to thank You for all that You have given us in it.

Thank You that we may and can work and that You give meaning to our work.

LORD, we ask You to bless our work and forget everything that was not for Your glory.

Please give us an opportunity later to rest and enjoy the work we have done for You today.


  1. John 9:4
  2. Luke 23:46
  3. Micah 4:1-7
  4. Isaiah 55:1-13
  5. Revelation 14:9-11
  6. 1 Corinthians 7:23
  7. Proverbs 10:22
  8. Matthew 6:26, Matthew 6:34
  1. James 4:15
  2. Proverbs 16:3
  3. John 4:13-17
  4. Proverbs 6:6-11, Proverbs 12:27, Proverbs 21:20, Proverbs 30:25
  5. Deuteronomy 5:12-15, Mark 2:27
  6. Ecclesiastes 4:6
  7. Psalm 104:19-23, Mark 6:31-32
  8. Hebrews 4:9-10
  1. Exodus 20:8-11
  2. John 15:4, Hebrews 4:10, 1 John 3:19
  3. Isaiah 58:13-14, Matthew 12:12
  4. Isaiah 28:26
  5. Luke 10:38-42
  6. Matthew 11:28
  7. Acts 1:15-26, 1 Thessalonians 5:17
  8. Jeremiah 29:7


  1. Which Bible verse about sobriety do I find particularly appealing and provides guidance for what working soberly means (to me)?
  2. To what extent do I agree with the above summary of what working soberly means?
  3. Are there any missing elements in the above list of what working soberly means? If so, which ones?
  4. How would I personally describe what working soberly means for Christians?
  5. How would I describe concretely what working soberly means for me?
  6. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that sobriety is an important characteristic/virtue for Christians in their work?
  7. To what extent do I subscribe to the idea that sobriety is an important guideline/principle for the behavior of Christians in their work?
  8. To what extent is sobriety an important virtue and principle for me in my work?
  9. How do I experience the importance of sobriety in my work?
  10. Do I work to bring about sobriety? Do I do so wholeheartedly?
  11. To what extent can I work soberly in my work?
  12. How often have I recently brought sobriety to my work?
  13. How soberly do I do my work? How does it show?
  14. To what extent do I use sobriety as a principle for my behavior in my work? Could I illustrate this using the decisions I have recently made in my work?
  15. When I look back at my working life, could I say that I have increasingly become more sober in my behavior?
  16. To what extent do people I work with think I act soberly in my work? What have they said to me about this?
  17. To what extent do I think God thinks I act soberly in my work?
  18. How can I become and act more soberly in my work? How would I do this concretely?
  19. Which elements of working soberly am I going to bring more of in my next working day?
  20. What am I going to say in a prayer to God about working soberly?
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