THE DIGNITY OF LABOR (127)
James R. Davis
In America, labor is valued as the source of unequaled prosperity, and as a characteristic of a strong and determined people. How do you see your job? Whether you are a homemaker, a student, or a factory worker, the attitude you have about your work reveals a great deal about your faith. Labor is a part of God's plan for your life.
Ecc 9:10 Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might, for in the grave, where you are going, there is neither working nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom.
Luke 10:7 Stay in that house, eating and drinking whatever they give you, for the worker deserves his wages. Do not move around from house to house.
God created man for a purpose.
Gen 2:5 and every plant of the field before it was in the earth, and every herb of the field before it grew: for the LORD God had not caused it to rain upon the earth, and there was not a man to till the ground.
Gen 2:7 the LORD God formed the man from the dust of the ground and breathed into his nostrils the breath of life, and the man became a living being.
Gen 2:9 And the LORD God made all kinds of trees grow out of the ground-- trees that were pleasing to the eye and good for food. In the middle of the garden were the tree of life and the tree of the knowledge of good and evil.
Gen 2:8 Now the LORD God had planted a garden in the east, in Eden; and there he put the man he had formed.
In Genesis, God tells Adam that the rest of his life will be given to labor, labor as a result of sin.
Gen 3:17 To Adam he said, "Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, `You must not eat of it,' "Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.
Gen 3:18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field.
Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return."
Gen 3:23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.
It is sort of ludicrous that we are on the verge of celebrating the results of being kicked out of Paradise.
I. LABOR IS HONORABLE.
A. The work ethic has a scriptural basis in both the words of Paul and the example of Jesus.
Ephesians 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.
B. Notice what Jesus likens the kingdom of heaven to.
Mark 13:34 It's like a man going away: He leaves his house and puts his servants in charge, each with his assigned task, and tells the one at the door to keep watch.
A man was advised to get a job, invest his earnings, and accumulate capital so that one day he wouldn't have to work anymore, he replied, "Why should I go through all that? I'm not working now."
C. We should feel we are in our work because God has called us to it.
1. We must dispense with the idea that the work done inside the church building or in a church organization is more holy, somehow, than the work done in the flea market place.
2. Jesus himself was a working man, and He called twelve working men to be his initial disciples.
D. Are you working for God or men?
1. If we work for the thanks or appreciation of men, we seldom ever get it.
2. But when we work for God we are free to serve others, no matter how unreasonable or thankless they may be.
3. Our reward is God himself saying, "Well done good and faithful servant."
1 Peter 2:18 Slaves, submit yourselves to your masters with all respect, not only to those who are good and considerate, but also to those who are harsh.
1 Peter 2:19 For it is commendable if a man bears up under the pain of unjust suffering because he is conscious of God.
1 Peter 2:20 But how is it to your credit if you receive a beating for doing wrong and endure it? But if you suffer for doing good and you endure it, this is commendable before God.
E. Daily chores take on new meaning when we work for God rather than men. There has been too much conflict between what is a man's job and what is a woman's job. Are ideas are changing I have noticed that Wal-Mart now has a diaper changing facility in the men's restrooms.
Wife: Would you help me with the dishes?
Husband: That's not a man's job.
Wife: The Bible says it is.
Husband: Oh, really? Where does it say that?
Wife: In 2 Kings 21:13 it says, "I will wipe Jerusalem as a man wipeth
II. WHAT ARE WE WORKING FOR?
A. Wages? Prestige? Or am I working to do the will of God? This has much to say about our motives.
1. Where is your security? Is your boss paying your salary or do you see him only as an agent whom God has chosen to supply your needs.
2. Are we working to please the one who makes out our checks or God.
3. I have heard person's working for the government say, "It is close enough for government work." Meaning that it doesn't have to be perfect if it is something we are doing for the government.
An astronaut preparing for a launch into space was asked how he felt. The astronaut replied, "How would you feel knowing you were going into space in an aircraft with over 140,000 parts and they were all supplied by the lowest bidders?"
B. Is our work guiding our consumption or is our consumption driving us at work.
CATCH-22 There are so many laborsaving devices on the market today that a man has to work all his life to pay for them.
ROUND TRIP "My boy," said the father kindly, "don't you want to succeed in life as I did?"
"Well, I don't know," the son replied, slowly. " You were raised in the country and worked and scrimped so you could go to the city. Then you slaved to own a house in the city. Then you about killed yourself so you could buy this house in the country.
I think I'm better off staying here than killing myself making that round trip."
HARD WORK AND . . . After forty years of hard work, Smith retired with a comfortable fortune of $90,000 which he had gained through courage, diligence, initiative, skill, devotion to duty, thrift, efficiency, shrewd investment, and the death of an uncle who left him $89,999.50.
1. We were created to be productive and not possessive of God's gifts.
2. We were created to work so that the present generation and each succeeding generation can also work and build on our efforts to advance the creation's development.
Gen 1:26 And God said, Let us make man in our image, after our likeness: and let them have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over the cattle, and over all the earth, and over every creeping thing that creepeth upon the earth.
Gen 1:27 So God created man in his own image, in the image of God created he him; male and female created he them.
Gen 1:28 And God blessed them, and God said unto them, Be fruitful, and multiply, and replenish the earth, and subdue it: and have dominion over the fish of the sea, and over the fowl of the air, and over every living thing that moveth upon the earth.
C. Are we working to bear our own burden?
Carry each other's burdens, and in this way you will fulfill the law of Christ. If anyone thinks he is something when he is nothing, he deceives himself. Each one should test his own actions. Then he can take pride in himself, without comparing himself to somebody else, for each one should carry his own load.
1. In order to help in a Christ like manner, we need to set limits. We should help others carry their burdens but without usurping a person's responsibility to carry his or her own load.
2. In helping we should be careful not to build up expectations that the person will change in specific ways (such as becoming a Christian). We must respect their right to make their own decisions.
3. We need to discern whether our helping interferes with God's will for that person's life. Jesus felt compassion for the sick, but His actions were always guided by His Father's will.
Sometimes we can help people more by not helping them at all. A helper must also guard against allowing her helping to hinder her fulfilling her own responsibilities, such as her duties as a wife and mother.
D. Are some jobs to menial for us?
Well digging is the only job left where you start at the top.
Everyone who doesn't work has a plan that does.
E. God owns everything on earth.
James 5:1 Now listen, you rich people, weep and wail because of the misery that is coming upon you.
Your wealth has rotted, and moths have eaten your clothes. Your gold and silver are corroded. Their corrosion will testify against you and eat your flesh like fire. You have hoarded wealth in the last days. Look! The wages you failed to pay the workmen who mowed your fields are crying out against you. The cries of the harvesters have reached the ears of the Lord Almighty. You have lived on earth in luxury and self-indulgence. You have fattened yourselves in the day of slaughter.
The ability to work hard is a gift of God's grace.
Work deserves enthusiasm.
God wants us to do the work that is before us.
Hard work is a lifetime commitment.
Hard work deserves special honor, and will be rewarded.