Why Should I Work?

Why Should I Work?

Labor Day is a strange holiday. Don’t you think so? It is called Labor Day, but it is a day we try to do as little labor as possible and most working people have the day off. Outside of a possible BBQ, we don’t do much of anything. I don’t recall anyone wishing me a "Happy Labor Day" or sending me a Labor Day card. We don’t give flowers, decorate the house, or give Labor Day gifts. However, Labor Day is a boon to resorts and tourist areas because so many people want to travel, and that can make it a bad weekend for some church congregations. Maybe it should be called Travel Day.

Yes, Labor Day is different to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But for policemen, who must deal with extra heavy traffic and alcohol abuse, it’s a tough day. To mothers, farmers, and ranchers, it’s just another day to feed the children, work in the field, or tend to the livestock.

I suppose one reason we have a Labor Day is because we seem to need a holiday every few months or so. Vacations are over. School has started. It’s time to get serious about work once again.

As we consider labor today, there are 5 kinds of working bones in the workforce. Yes, I said working bones. There are:

LAZY BONES who won’t work, but want others to support them;

WISH BONES who spend their time wishing someone else would do the work;

JAW BONES who do all the talking, but very little else;

KNUCKLE BONES who knock everything that anyone else is trying to do;

and BACK BONES who shoulder the load and actually do the work.

As a preacher, I considered ignoring this holiday. After all, our work occupies much of our thinking and dominates many of our conversations. Why talk about it this morning? Work dictates where we will live and often determines many of our friendships. And our work often influences our relationship with others. There is not much about work, that I can tell you, which you don’t already know.

Nevertheless, since the work we do is a very important part of our life, we need to know what God says about work.

First of all, we are commanded to work.

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.

Each person has a responsibility to contribute to the welfare of the family and society. We shouldn’t expect the government to provide for us. Social Security payments are dividends from the money we paid in. Welfare recipients should do some kind of work.

Children should be taught to work early in their life. Chores appropriate for their age should be assigned to them and they should be taught how to do them, when to do them, and to remember to do them. They should experience the rewards for success and punishment for failure. For example, if the child is old enough to feed the dog and forgets or refuses to do it, the parent must not do the work for them. That would teach irresponsibility. A good parent will make the child miss the next meal. That will effectually teach the child responsibility and about hunger (the dog is hungry, too, because you didn’t feed it). Such lessons will benefit them for life.

Secondly, we are to work for the Lord. Colossians 3:23-24 Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.

We come to church on Sunday and we are influenced by the values and commands of God. But when we go to work on Monday, we are influenced by the values and rules of man. God’s Word is saying that work and faith do not have to be in conflict, because the work that we do should not be done just for men, but rather, it ought to be done for God. Regardless of the job, if we look at work as service to God, it will glorify God if we do it well.

All work is equally important to God. However, the world says that the person who works with his hands is not nearly as important as the person who works with his mind. Therefore it gives greater rewards to executives, supervisors, the people who think things through and tell others what to do.

The greatest inequality of compensation for labor is the high salaries paid in professional sports and the entertainment industry. If you can hit a baseball or throw a football, or if you are an actor or a musician who can put on quite a show, somehow the world considers you are worth more than anybody else. Granted, not everyone can do what they do as well as they do it, but is their work more important than a mother’s work, a soldier’s, teacher’s, or policeman’s work? No, actually it is less important for survival. Athletes and actors contribute very little to the welfare of society. What they do is a luxury, not a necessity.

High salaries can produce arrogance. Some highly paid celebrities consider themselves an authority on every subject matter because they make more money than anybody else. And the world accepts that standard and considers their opinion more highly than the lesser paid expert on the subject. We, who are in the Kingdom of God, are not to think like that.

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Command those who are rich in this present age not to be haughty, nor to trust in uncertain riches but in the living God, who gives us richly all things to enjoy. Let them do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to give, willing to share, storing up for themselves a good foundation for the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

I read a story about an imaginary letter addressed to "Jesus, Son of Joseph, Carpenter Shop, Nazareth" from the Jordan Management Consultants in Jerusalem. It illustrates how far man’s thoughts differs from God’s thoughts.

In this parable, Jesus sent the consultants 12 men to evaluate that He was considering as Apostles. This management consultant firm gave the candidates a battery of tests and wrote back to Jesus with its conclusions.

It said, "In the opinion of our staff, most of your candidates are lacking in background, education, and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking.

"Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, Sons of Zebedee, seem to place personal interest above team loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale."

"In addition, we feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew has been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau and that James, the Son of Alphaeus, Simon the Zealot, & Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings."

"In the light of our findings, we recommend that you continue searching for other candidates with managerial experience and proven capability."

"One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness. He meets people well. He has a keen business mind and has contacts in high places. He is greatly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your Chief Financial Officer and Administrative Assistant."

Although fictional, this parable illustrates that the world does not look for the same things Jesus looks for, and misses some things that Jesus sees. Jesus is able to see a potential in each of us that the world often misses.

Therefore, God has a purpose for our life that is greater than the work we do or the amount of money we earn. We fulfill part of that purpose if we consider our work as a service to God and do it for Him. Mowing lawns, preaching, working in the field, in the office, in the factory, or in the home; whatever we do, we are to do it to glorify God and not just to gain money, status, or power among men.

Ecclesiastes 3:22 So I saw that there is nothing better than that a man should rejoice in his work, for that is his lot. Who can bring him to see what will be after him?

Our work should be something we enjoy doing every day and something we find pleasure in doing well for the glory of God. If we thank God for our job instead of grumbling, we will have more pleasure in preforming it.

Thirdly, we are to work so we can provide for others.

Ephesians 4:28 says, "Let him who steals, steal no longer. But rather, let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need."

This says, "The purpose of work is not to accumulate possessions, but to meet needs."

A business man might think, "That is out of touch with reality, because we must make a profit. If we don't make a profit, we have to lay off employees. If we lay off employees, they won't have a paycheck coming in. So it is important for us to make a profit."

The Bible never discourages making a profit. In fact, the Bible teaches that it is wise to make more money than you spend. But the Bible discourages greed, covetousness, and the worship of things. This Scripture is saying, "The reason we work is that we might have money to support ourselves, our families, and those who are in need."

This concept has a very special application for the people of God. We are told to give special attention to one another. And when there is a need among us, that need is to be a concern of the other church family members.

Romans 12:13 Share with the Lord’s people who are in need. Practice hospitality.

The purpose of work is to enable us to accomplish this.

Fourthly, work is ordained by God.

Genesis 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

After He made Adam and Eve, God gave them work to do, but that work was not their identity. Work is honorable, but neither is it our identity. Neither are we to identify others by the work they do. Unfortunately, it happens all the time, and causes us to think more or less highly of a person because of the type of work they do. That is worldly thinking, because God considers all people and all work done for Him as honorable and of equal value. But our work is not who we are.

For example, Jesus was often called the carpenter. That identity caused the religious leaders to miss the fact that Jesus is the Messiah. When we judge others by the work they do, we miss seeing them for who they really are.  Sadly, we judge ourselves, too, and only feel important if we can identify with an occupation the world considers important.

Unfortunately, in the world, the most important jobs seem to pay the least. Teachers, police, soldiers, nurses, and farm workers draw less pay than those in occupations that are less essential or risky. The results of the work are not fairly considered. Worst of all, the world tells stay-at-home mothers, "You are nobody, because you don’t draw an income."

I worked 40 years as a forester. To me, it was a worthy profession. I enjoyed the work and it provided a good income. Now, I am retired from that profession and my income comes from social security and pensions. Who am I now? Am I someone else? Am I worth less, because I’m no longer employed and my income is less?

That is one of the reasons why many people dread the idea of retirement. Because it seems that when you retire, the world thinks, "You are no longer valuable." The world teaches that you are what you do and what you have accumulated. Now that you are retired, you are a has-been or a used-to-be, but you are nobody now. To those concerned about the world’s population, you are expendable and need to die as soon as possible.

Christians, we must reject worldly concepts, and renew our minds with the Word of God. In the end, there are more important things than our daily work. We must not forget that! Most important is our relationship to Christ. Young or old, rich or poor, nothing matters more than who you are in Christ. Regardless of our work, we are either lost or saved.

Jesus said in Matthew 16:26 For what will it profit a man if he gains the whole world and forfeits his soul? Or what shall a man give in return for his soul?

He also said in Matthew 6:19-20 Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal, but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.

Jesus offers a meaning and a purpose to life which we will never be able to find in work or anywhere else. You can find the meaning and purpose of your life by making Jesus your Savior and Lord.

If you believe Jesus is the Son of God, who atoned for your sin by dying on the cross and rose from the dead to sit at the right hand of the Father, then confess this publicly. Repent of your sin and self-rule by dying to yourself in water baptism. Then you will be born again of the Holy Spirit, Who will direct your life to fulfill the purpose God has for you.