Thank you for praying for my brother Danny’s healing from brain cancer. He finishes up his sixth and last week of radiation and chemo this Friday and is doing well.
I’m taking a break from writing on healing to finish up some other projects and responsibilities that are necessary for my work here. I hope to get back to the general subject of healing soon.
Speaking of work, did you know that we can actually make the doctrines of scripture more palatable to those around us who do not yet know God by the way we work? Did you know that the apostle Paul even instructed Titus as part of his church planting strategy to help the church members become God pleasing workers in their jobs? Listen to his instruction found in Titus 2:9,10 “Urge bondslaves to be subject to their own masters in everything, to be well-pleasing, not argumentative, not pilfering (stealing), but showing all good faith so that they will adorn the doctrine of God our Savior in every respect.” Specifically/contextually Paul is speaking about slaves obeying and relating to their Masters. But all these principles apply to modern day employees and employers. And basically Paul is saying a powerful part of the church’s witness in the world is the way in which its members conduct themselves in the work force or marketplace.
I believe we disciples of Jesus Christ can have a great impact in our cities or regions by the way in which we handle our work or jobs. In that light, I put together the following outline so that those of you in the work force can know some of the basic principles and scriptures God has revealed. For those of us called to equip these saints in the marketplace - - may we be ever more committed to and anointed for this most important ministry.
I. God is a hard joyful worker. – Gen. 1:1-27 (see also Proverbs 8:22-31)
“But He answered them, My Father is working until now, and I myself am working.” John 5:17
“I glorified You on the earth, having accomplished the work which You have given Me to do.” John 17:4
II. Since man was made in God’s image (Gen. 1:26,27), man was made to work like God. Work was a pre-fall calling, not a post-fall curse. Adam and Eve most likely worked with joy, peace and purpose (just like God) before the fall (see Genesis chps. 1 & 2)
“Then God said, “Let Us make man in Our image, according to Our likeness; and let them rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over the cattle and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” Gen. 1:26
“God blessed them; and God said to them, “Be fruitful and multiply, and fill the earth, and subdue it; and rule over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the sky and over every living thing that moves on the earth.” Gen. 1:28
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.” Gen. 2:15
“There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?” Eccl. 2:24
III. Since the fall of man and because of sin - work brings with it many difficulties and challenges.
“Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken’ For you are dust, And to dusts you shall return.” Gen. 3:17-19
“For what does a man get in all his labor and in his striving with which he labors under the sun? Because all his days his task is painful and grievous; even at night his mind does not rest. This too is vanity.”Eccl.2:22,23
IV. In Christ, God’s work ethic can and should be restored/walked out
A. We are called and wired to work hard with diligence “Go to the ant, O sluggard, Observe her ways and be wise, Which, having no chief, Officer or ruler, Prepares her food in the summer And gathers her provision in the harvest. How long will you lie down, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, A little folding of the hands to rest” Your poverty will come in like a vagabond And your need like an armed man.” Prov. 6:6-11
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might; for there is no activity or planning or knowledge or wisdom in Sheol where you are going.” Eccl.9:10
“I have coveted no one’s silver or gold or clothes. You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me. In everything I showed you that by working hard in this manner you must help the weak and remember the words of the Lord Jesus, that He Himself said, ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.” Acts 20:33-35
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men.” Col. 3:23
“For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example, because we did not act in an undisciplined manner among you, nor did we eat anyone’s bread without paying for it, but with labor and hardship we kept working night and day so that we would not be a burden to any of you;” II Thess. 3:7,8
B. We are called and wired to do our work as to God for His glory and pleasure. “Whether, then, you eat or drink or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.” I Cor. 10:31
“Slaves, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in the sincerity of your heart, as to Christ; not by way of eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as slaves of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart. With good will render service, as to the Lord, and not to men” Eph. 6:5-7
“Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord rather than for men,” Col. 3:23
C. We are called and wired to look for and to receive rewards from God for our work, not from man. This reward seems to be different or distinct from our paychecks. “knowing that whatever good thing each one does, this he will receive back from the Lord, whether slave or free. And masters, do the same things to them, and give up threatening, knowing that both their Master and yours is in heaven, and there is no partiality with Him.” Eph. 6:8,9
“knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance. It is the Lord Christ whom you serve.”Col. 3:24
D. We are called and wired to work with utmost integrity “You shall not steal, nor deal falsely, nor lie to one another.” Lev. 19:11
“Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.” Prov. 13:11
E. We are called and wired to have a day of rest from our work
“By the seventh day God completed His work which He had done, and He rested on the seventh day from all His work which He had done.” Gen. 2:2
“Six days you shall labor and do all your work.” Ex. 20:9
“For six days work may be done, but on the seventh day there is a sabbath of complete rest, a holy convocation. You shall not do any work; it is a sabbath to the Lord in all your dwellings.” Lev. 23:3
“If because of the sabbath, you turn your foot From doing your own pleasure on My holy day, And call the sabbath a delight, the holy day of the Lord honorable, And honor it, desisting from your own ways, From seeking your own pleasure And speaking your own word, Then you will take delight in the Lord, And I will make you ride on the heights of the earth;….” Isa. 58:13,14
“Jesus said to them, “The Sabbath was made for man, and not man for the Sabbath. So the Son of Man is Lord even of the Sabbath.” Mark 2:27,28 (cf. Matt. 24:20)
“One person regards one day above another, another regards every day alike. Each person must be fully convinced in his own mind.” Romans 14:5
“So there remains a Sabbath rest for the people of God.” Heb. 4:9 (cf.Ex. 16:22-30;
Comment: I’m very aware that because of scriptures like Rom. 14:5 & Col. 2:16,17 observing a Sabbath day every week is not a law over our heads now that we are under the New Covenant. We are expressly commanded not to judge others who might see the Sabbath practice differently than we do. But I’m convinced devoting one day a week to spiritual and relational renewal is a wonderful life giving practice, and I would encourage it highly. I might also say at this point that the idea or concept of a two day weekend wherein Americans waste a lot of time, energy and money pursuing leisure and entertainment has little to do with the kingdom of God. As we learn to follow Jesus as Lord over every day and submit to the leading of the Holy Spirit every day He will make clear how we are to practice these principles.
F. We are called and wired to enjoy the life (and the wife) He has given us “There is nothing better for a man than to eat and drink and tell himself that his labor is good. This also I have seen that it is from the hand of God. For who can eat and who can have enjoyment without Him?” Eccl. 2:24,25 (cf. Eccl. 5:18,19)
“Enjoy life with the woman whom you love all the days of your fleeting life which He has given to you under the sun; for this is your reward in life and in your toil in which you have labored under the sun.” Eccl. 9:9
Comment: There is no true enjoyment of life and wife without God in the midst. The safety from licentiousness is found in the author’s conclusion of his book: “The conclusion, when all has been heard is: fear God and keep His commandments, because this applies to every person. For God will bring every act to judgment, everything which is hidden, whether it is good or evil.” Eccl. 12:13,14
G. We must learn to know and trust God to meet our financial and material needs and not depend upon our job/employer/business for such “It is vain for you to rise up early, To retire late, To eat the bread of painful labors; For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep.” Psalm 127:2
“For the Gentiles eagerly seek all these things; for your heavenly Father knows that you need all these things. But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things will be added to you.” Matt. 6:32-33
H. We are called and wired to work hard so that we might have things to share with those in need and not be in need ourselves “He who steals must steal no longer; but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” Ephesians 4:28
“Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands, just as we commended you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.” I Thess. 4:11,12
I. The church should not help anyone who refuses to work “For even when we were with you, we used to give you this order: if anyone is not willing to work, then he is not to eat, either. For we hear that some among you are leading an undisciplined life, doing no work at all, but acting like busybodies. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to work in quiet fashion and eat their own bread.” II Thess. 3:10-12
J. Believers should be known as those who honor their bosses “All who are under the yoke as slaves are to regard their own masters as worthy of all honor so that the name of God and our doctrine will not be spoken against.” I Tim. 6:1
K. Employees should work extra hard when their boss or employer is a believer because of the benefit to him/her as a fellow believer. “Those who have believers as their masters must not be disrespectful to them because they are brethren, but must serve them all the more, because those who partake of the benefit are believers and beloved. Teach and preach these principles.” I Tim. 6:2
P.S. I want to dedicate this post to Adam – my dear son and brother in the Lord. Happy Birthday Adam!!
P.S.S. Happy Resurrection Day Everyone!!