Monday we celebrated Labor Day. A time set aside to celebrate the rights that have been restored for the American worker through the American Labor Movement and the men and women who do so much to make it a prosperous country through our labors.
Yet, I wonder how many have a Biblical view of work. Often we hear people talk about how horrible work is like it is a result of sin, yet if we look at the Scriptures Adam was told to tend the garden (Gen. 2:15) and to name the animals (Gen. 2:19) which made for a busy day of work that first day of creation. Sure sin brought much harder labor than it was before the fall of man (Gen. 3:18-19) but that does not mean we should whine about it. In fact as believers we are told to do all things without complaining or disputing. (Phil. 2:14)
What many do not realize is that all are expected to work. Even some of our founding fathers used the Biblical principle from II Thessalonians 3:10 “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Every able bodied individual (Able-bodied opens a whole new can of worms I cannot address in this short essay…) should be doing their part to provide. We happen to live in an area Brown/Schuyler County where the unemployment rate is the lowest in the state and likely among the lowest in the country. If people want to work and have not disqualified themselves through character flaws or laziness, they can find work. I understand it may not be the most glamorous or enjoyable, but it will put food on the table and some kind of shelter over the head.
The manner in which we work is addressed in a few other places. For example, In I Cor. 10:31 we are challenged, “Whether therefore you eat or drink do all to the glory of God.” Even more pointedly in Ephesians 6:5ff those who are working for others are challenged to work “in sincerity of heart, as to Christ:” in other words we work as if Christ is our boss. In fact it continues “not with eye service as men pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service to the Lord, and not to men.” Just think of how many people work hard if the boss or the foreman are somewhere that they can see them, but as soon as they walk out of sight they go back to being lazy and their production drops. As believers we work to please God, and I have found that most of the time if my work pleases the Lord then my work will please man as well. I understand that occasionally there are those difficult bosses that will never be pleased, but they aren’t our concern. In the end we do not answer to them for our attitudes and actions, but we will answer to God. And if we are believers we are representing Jesus Christ even in the way we work including our attitudes and actions. May Jesus Christ be praised by our work ethic! (This article was first published as the "Feature Preacher" article in the Rushville Times)