Acton Institute Powerblog

The cooperative magic of work

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“When people work together,” says Dylan Pahman in this week’s Acton Commentary, “they are able to multiply the fruits of their labors far beyond what they could each do alone.”

“Work,” wrote the Reformed theologian Lester DeKoster, “is the form in which we make ourselves useful to others.” I like this definition because it puts things in a realistic, everyday perspective. Certainly, people can work just because they want a paycheck to spend on themselves alone. That might be greedy, but we need to be careful not to confuse profit with greed.

People work in order to profit, but profit is not good or evil in itself. That judgment depends on the circumstances in which it was gained and the use to which it is put. And as DeKoster points out, our work itself is service to others. If it wasn’t, they wouldn’t pay us to do it in the first place, and most people wouldn’t want to do it for free. It’s an exchange.

The full text of the essay can be found here. Subscribe to the free, weekly Acton Commentary and other publications here.

Joe Carter Joe Carter is a Senior Editor at the Acton Institute. Joe also serves as an editor at the The Gospel Coalition, a communications specialist for the Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission of the Southern Baptist Convention, and as an adjunct professor of journalism at Patrick Henry College. He is the editor of the NIV Lifehacks Bible and co-author of How to Argue like Jesus: Learning Persuasion from History's Greatest Communicator (Crossway).

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