In the natural realm, the Bible commands that work is the necessary forerunner of food.
"If any would not work, neither should he eat" (II Thessalonians 3:10).
Conversely, in the spiritual realm works do not obtain nor maintain our partaking of the free gift of salvation in the Lord Jesus Christ.
"By grace are ye saved through faith, and that not of yourselves; it is the gift of God and not of works, lest any man should boast... You are kept by the power of God through faith unto salvation" (Ephesians 2:8-9; I Peter 1:4;5).
In our earthly existence, those unwilling to work should not eat. Conversely, in heavenly matters of relating to God, we starve spiritually if we attempt to earn favor with God by working. The dichotomy is striking, and raises the question of why our Heavenly Father has determined the difference in the two realms.
The first answer is that working for earthly sustenance results from God's judgment after Adam's sin. Before the first man fell, food was freely provided by the Creator. "And God said, Behold, I have given you every herb bearing seed, which is upon the face of all the earth, and every tree, in the which is the fruit of a tree yielding seed; to you it shall be for meat" (emphasis added). After he sinned, however, Adam was required to work and sweat in order to eat. "In the sweat of thy face, thou shalt eat bread." This curse has not been removed from the natural realm because it serves the necessary purpose of revealing to humanity the terrible consequences of sin. Eating without fulfilling matters of personal responsibility therefore hinders the light of God in our lives, endangering our spiritual well being (Genesis 1:29; 3:19).
Eating without working also violates the truth and meaning of love. Except for very rare circumstances in the world as it presently exists, food must be obtained by work and sweat. Somebody has to put forth the effort, and those who eat apart from fulfilling personal responsibility do so upon the backs of others. This breeds the self-centeredness that is the very opposite of the love of God, and the love for Him and others to which He calls us. Fewer more devilish or carnal attacks can be made upon the soul of an able-bodied person than to give him that for which he should be required to work.
Finally, the sweat of the natural realm helps to prepare us for the rest of the spiritual realm. Work, tiredness, and struggle provide a backdrop for the message of another way, another world, and Another's provision of "every good gift and every perfect gift." Through Christ, God offers to us "milk without money and without price," freely blessing us with "all spiritual blessings" through the price that only One could have paid. A lifetime of sweat instills in us a longing for such an eternity wherein we will work for reasons other than mere bread. Indeed, we will labor in our heavenly destiny, but not for food. We will rather work from the power of the freely given"Bread of heaven," being liberated to accomplish greater things for greater purposes than mere survival (James 1:17; Isaiah 55:1; Ephesians 1:3; Psalm 105:40).
"Not by works of righteousness which we have done, but according to His mercy He saved us, by the washing of regeneration, and renewing of the Holy Ghost."
"Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth."