This is not a comprehensive analysis of Kierkegaard on this point — just a demonstration that one cannot simply quote from one of his books and say, “Kierkegaard” says. In book II of Either/Or, Judge Wilhelm (Equilibrium) extols work for a man:
The question whether it might not be possible to imagine a world in which it was not necessary to work in order to live is really an idle question since it does not deal with the given reality but with a feigned situation. This, however, is always an attempt to belittle the ethical view. For if it were a perfection on the part of existence not to have to work, then man’s life would be the most perfect who didn’t have to. Then one could say that it was a duty to work only by attaching the word duty to a sense of dolorous necessity….The duty of working in order to live expresses the universal-human, and it expresses the universal also in another sense because it expresses freedom. It is precisely by working that man makes himself free, by working he become lord over nature, by working he shows he is higher than nature.
Or might life lose its beauty for the fact that a man must work in order to live? We are back again at the same only point: everything depends upon what one understands by beauty. It is beautiful to see the lilies of the field (though they sew not neither do they spin) so clothed that even Solomon in all his glory was not so magnificent; it is beautiful to see birds without anxiety finding their food; it is beautiful to see Adam and Eve in Paradise whether they could get everything they pointed at; but it is still more beautiful to see a man earning by his work what he has need of. (Loire, 286-287).
Now there are number of problems with Judge Wilhelm’s statement. Just to take two, Adam and Eve did have work in the Garden, and the work we experience now suffers from the Curse. He captures the duty (but misses all else). He also gets the lilies wrong. He treats the lilies and birds, as yes, yes, but the important thing is duty and effort.
In Consider the Lilies, Kierkegaard also takes up Jesus’ observation from the Sermon on the Mount to, “consider the lilies”:
This is how it is with the gospel. The most important thing for the gospel is not to reprimand and scold; what is most important for the gospel is to get human beings to follow its guidance. That is why it says, “Seek first.” In so doing, it muzzles, so to speak, all of a persona objects, brings him to silence, and gets him actually to being first this seeking. And then this seeking satisfies a human being in such a way that it now becomes true that he simply and solely seeks God’s kingdom.
(Kirmmse, 38). Finally, let us consider the original and ask which Kierkegaard came more in line with Jesus:
Matthew 6:25–34 (ESV)
25 “Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? 26 Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? 27 And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? 28 And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, 29 yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. 30 But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? 31 Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ 32 For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. 33 But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.
34 “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble.