On Occupation
Genesis 47:3
And Pharaoh said to his brothers, What is your occupation? And they said to Pharaoh, Your servants are shepherds, both we…

Activity is the life of nature. The planets rolling in their orbits, the earth revolving on her axis; the atmosphere purified by winds, the ocean by tides; the vapours rising from the ground and returning in freshening flowers, exhaled from the sea, and poured again by rivers into its bosom, proclaim the universal law. Turn to animated existence. See the air, the land, and the waters in commotion with countless tribes eagerly engaged in attack, in defence, in the construction of habitations, in the chase of prey, in employment suited to their sphere and conducive to their happiness. Is man born an exception to the general rule? Man is born to labour. For labour, man while yet innocent was formed (Genesis 2:15). To that exertion which was ordained to be a source of unmitigated delight, painful contention and overwhelming fatigue, when man apostatised from his God, were superadded (Genesis 3:17, 18). In the early years of the world employments now confined to the lowest classes were deemed not unbecoming persons of the most elevated rank. From every individual in his dominions, and from each according to his vocation, Pharaoh looked for diligent exertion. From every, individual among us, as throughout His boundless empire, the supreme Lord of all demands habitual labour in the daily employment of the talents entrusted to our management. Let us then, in the first place, contemplate the motives under the guidance of which we are, each of us, to labour: secondly, some of the general lines of human labour as connected with their attendant temptations; and thirdly, the principal benefits immediately resulting from occupation.

I. WHATSOEVER YE DO, DO ALL TO THE GLORY OF GOD. Behold the universal motive of a Christian! Through the exuberance of the free bounty of God. To whom ought the gift to be consecrated? To Him who bestowed it. For whose glory ought it to be employed? For the glory of the Giver. To live unto Christ is to glorify God. To glorify God through Christ with your body and your spirit, which are His, is the appointed method of attaining the salvation which Christ has purchased.


III. Consider briefly SOME OF THE BENEFITS RESULTING TO THE INDIVIDUAL FROM OCCUPATION; and you will confess that, if God enjoined labour as a judgment, he enjoined it also in mercy.

1. Labour, in the first place, not only is the medium of acquisition; but naturally tends to improvement. Whether the body is to be strengthened or the mind to be cultivated; by the labour of to-day are augmented the faculties of attaining similar objects to-morrow.

2. Labour is, in the next place, a powerful preservative from sin. The unoccupied hand is a ready instrument of mischief.

3. Occupation, originating in Christian principles and directed to Christian purposes, is essential, not only to the refreshing enjoyment of leisure (for the rest that refreshes is rest after toil); but to the acquisition of genuine composure, of serenity of conscience, of that peace of God which passeth all understanding.


1. Consider with attention proportioned to the importance of the subject the universal obligation to labour. If you wish to withdraw your shoulder from the burden; suspect the soundness of your Christian profession. For those whom you love, even at the desire of those whom you love, you delight to labour. Do you love God, and loiter when He commands you to work for Him?

2. Be frequent in proposing to yourself the inquiry, "What is my occupation?" Satisfy yourself, not merely that you are occupied in employments acceptable to God. To labour in trifles is not Christian occupation. To labour in sin is to labour for the devil.

(T. Gisborne, M. A.)

Parallel Verses
KJV: And Pharaoh said unto his brethren, What is your occupation? And they said unto Pharaoh, Thy servants are shepherds, both we, and also our fathers.

WEB: Pharaoh said to his brothers, "What is your occupation?" They said to Pharaoh, "Your servants are shepherds, both we, and our fathers."

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