Spirit of Grace Ministries
SOGM
Spirit of Grace Ministries
-- Feeding Jesus' sheep
-- Equipping His servants
-- Proclaiming His Gospel

 

The Beauty & Value of Work

 

work

by Dennis Pollock

Very few people seem to value work as they should, either in the church or in the world. Often we hear folks talk about how much they despise their jobs, and how they would give anything to be able to quit them. They daydream about winning the lottery and fantasize themselves going into their boss's office, and joyfully submitting their resignation. They fervently wish they could have been born a world-class athlete, have played professional sports for a few years, and then retired being "set for life." Others, who are more practical, simply wait eagerly for that special day when they can retire and never again have to worry about bossy bosses, demanding deadlines, irritating alarm clocks, and annoying co-workers. The idea of staying home, setting your own schedule and agenda, and doing whatever you please seems like a dream come true.

In Christianity there is another factor which tends to make most sorts of work to be lightly esteemed by some. That is the notion that the only work that really "counts" is work that is directly related to ministry. If you preach, teach the Bible, or sing Christian songs for a living you have an important job, but if you work at a cash register, sell insurance, repair cars, or install computer networks your job means nothing in the eyes or God, and shouldn't mean much to you either.

Nothing could be further from the truth. As you read the Bible you discover that God is very much "pro-work." We don't have to wait long to find this out. In the second chapter of Genesis we learn how God made Adam, and we find that he was not created to sit around idly. The Bible tells us: "Then the LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to tend and keep it" (Genesis 2:15). Adam was not given a couch, a big television set, and a remote control. He was given the responsibility for taking care of a garden, and chances are this was no small little patch of ground. Although Adam enjoyed tremendous fellowship with the Lord in those early days before the fall, his life was not a continual, 24/7 prayer and praise meeting. Sometimes folks assume that the perfect life would be one where we prayed, worshiped and read the Bible continually, but this has never been God's idea.

"Six Days You Shall Work"

When God gave the ten commandments to Moses, He told him that man had the first six days of the week to work, but on the seventh day he must take a Sabbath rest. Often we focus on the one day of rest, and forget the command to work the previous six days. Work hard six days, rest well one day, and then repeat the pattern over and over again for a lifetime. This was God's command to the Jews thousands of years ago, and it is no doubt still a great formula for long-term health and a sensible work/rest ratio. Apparently God isn't nearly so big on two and three day weekends as we Americans are!

One of the most notorious and evil villains in the Bible is the lazy man. In Proverbs 26 we are given several verses which describe him:

  1. The lazy man says, "There is a lion in the road! A fierce lion is in the streets!" (26:13)
  2. As a door turns on its hinges, So does the lazy man on his bed. (26:14)
  3. The lazy man buries his hand in the bowl; It wearies him to bring it back to his mouth. (26:15)


This sluggard uses any excuse he can find to avoid work, turns from one position to another as he oversleeps in his bed, and is so lazy that he finds it too tiring to even bring his handful of food to his mouth. Not a very flattering picture! Conversely, the Bible promises great blessings and reward to the hard workers, telling us "the hand of the diligent will rule" (Proverbs 10:4), and "the soul of the diligent shall be made rich" (Proverbs 13:4).

Work with Your Hands

work

In the New Testament there is no greater proponent of a strong work ethic than the apostle Paul. He writes to the Thessalonian believers:

Aspire to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you, that you may walk properly toward those who are outside, and that you may lack nothing. (1 Thessalonians 4:11,12)

According to Paul, working hard and not depending upon the charity of others to support you will provide two benefits. First you will be walking properly toward those on the outside, that is, the non-Christians. Your steadiness in your work and stability in your finances will give the outsiders a cause to respect the Lord Jesus whom you proclaim. Secondly you will "lack nothing." You will have food on your table at meals, and be able to buy new clothes for yourself and your children when needed. It is true that your Heavenly Father has promised to provide for you as you seek first His kingdom, but the primary means by which He will do this will be through a job. This means getting up early five or six days a week, spending long hours working at tasks that may not be especially fun, forcing yourself to get along with obnoxious co-workers that you wouldn't be caught dead with in any social situation, enduring a boss that gets on your nerves, and having the best hours of the majority of your days planned for you, without so much as an "if you please."

Mark of Maturity

It is almost funny to watch many teenagers as they experience their first job outside the home. They enter into the job world with great expectations. Now they won't have to depend upon mom and dad for some scrawny little allowance. They will have more money than they have ever had in their lives. What a thrill it will be to go out shopping with a wallet full of cash they have earned themselves, and can spend on whatever their heart desires!

But when they go for their first day on the job, they face a rude awakening. They used to complain about mom and dad being too bossy, but their new boss makes mom and dad look like pushovers. He lays down all sorts of rules, accepts no excuses for mistakes, and fully expects them to work hard and stay with it the entire time they are on the clock. And when they mess up, he gets visibly upset and may even shout at them, without the least concern for their hurt feelings or diminished self-esteem. Before long they realize that they have made a terrible mistake. This job clearly isn't for them, and they quit and start looking for a different job with a nicer boss. Over the next year or two they may go through a dozen jobs and bosses in their quest for the comfortable and pleasant job they originally envisioned. Eventually they come to realize a sad and depressing truth: there are no perfect jobs and there certainly are no perfect bosses! If they have any sense at all, they wise up and begin to stay with a job that provides them the income they need and want, even though conditions there may be significantly below the ideal. If they are not very smart they may go all the way through their twenties and into their thirties working at job after job, sometimes quitting and other times being fired, in their vain search for the perfect job.

One of the primary marks of maturity is the willingness and ability to stay with a task that is not especially fun or particularly pleasant for the sake of providing for yourself and those you care about. Paul was so determined that Christians should get this, that he refused a privilege he knew he was entitled to as a minister of the gospel. He refused to be fully supported by the offerings of believers in his ministry, and instead made tents to provide for his own needs. This is astounding to me, that the greatest theologian in the history of the church was a part-time minister, and spent many long hours of his valuable time sewing fabric together and selling tents to finance his ministry.

Sweetening our Work

A song from an American movie years ago tells us that "a spoonful of sugar helps the medicine go down." Mary Poppins was not the first person to discover this. God has been using sweeteners to enable His servants to endure long and difficult tasks since the beginning, and His sweetener is the Holy Spirit. When we believe on Jesus Christ we are given the incredible gift of the indwelling Spirit, and He quickly begins to make His desires known in our lives. As we take those first steps of obedience, we find a certain sweetness coming from Him affirming our obedience and assuring us of His pleasure on our lives. I have seen this many times in my life.

This joy in the Holy Spirit goes well beyond what many Christians believe, which is that anointing is only for preaching and healing the sick. Years ago, as a school teacher, I sensed His presence in some of the most ordinary activities connected with my work. Most of my teaching years were spent with younger children, and often I would have a short time where I would read to them. One day I was reading Dr. Seuss's famous story called Green Eggs and Ham. For some reason I felt the presence of the Holy Spirit richly upon me, just as powerfully as I have experienced while preaching. I was rather amazed myself, and thought that people would have a hard time believing the anointing I was feeling, while I read the rather nonsensical, but clever poem, Green Eggs and Ham. What was happening? The Holy Spirit was sweetening (and improving) my teaching experience with His presence and power. No child gave his life to Christ; there was no altar call or invitation for sick people to come forward and be prayed for. It was just a case of a simple Christian school teacher being anointed to do what God was calling him to do at that time.

I have sensed that anointing at times when I relieve Benedicta of kitchen duties and voluntarily do the dishes at night, and when I make pancakes on Saturday morning. The sweetness of the presence of God mingling with our ordinary tasks turns duties into delights and helps us appreciate what others might despise. I am confident that this is at least some of what God means when He tells us that "the kingdom of God is not eating and drinking, but righteousness and peace and joy in the Holy Spirit" (Romans 14:17).

Work!

People with poor work habits, who migrate from one job to another, usually live in a state of constant turmoil and crisis. Their debts pile up, their relationships suffer, and they have no money to help anyone else who may be in need. Like the drowning man thrashing about in the water, it is impossible for them to ever move forward or be of any use to anyone else. All their time and energy is spent just trying to survive another day. They spend their lives as borrowers and never lenders, as takers and never givers, going from one financial crisis to the next.

God wants us to work. To sit around with far too much time on our hands is unhealthy both physically and psychologically. You were not made to spend hours in a recliner, constantly thinking about yourself, your needs, your problems, your future, and your desires. Nor were you created to pray all day long. Sustained, sweat-inducing, mentally and physically taxing, challenging labor that calls for all your energy and concentration is good for you! By all means take off one day in seven, but learn to appreciate the value of honest labor. If it was good enough for Adam, and if it was good enough for the apostle Paul, it is good enough for you!

God Himself has set the example for us. He spent six days creating the world before taking a day off. But His greatest work is… us! The Bible declares: "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them" (Ephesians 2:10). Again the Scriptures tell us, "He who has begun a good work in you will complete it until the day of Jesus Christ" (Philippians 1:6).

To see a full listing of all articles available, go to our Written Devos Page.
For a full listing of all articles as audio mp3 files (free downloads), go to our Audio Devos Page.

 

     

        For inspirational devos, bios of Christian leaders, free downloads, and the latest SOGM news:
Sign up to receive E-newsletter
>>

Your donations are needed and greatly appreciated!

 

 

Just for you!

Missions Outreach


A major part of Spirit of Grace Ministries is our ministry in the great continent of Africa. There is a tremendous harvest going on in the world these days, and we are privileged to be a part of it. Above is a brief music video featuring some pics from our recent mission in Magodes, Uganda.

Audio Devo: "Why is there suffering?"

People have debated this question for millennia. And we cannot speak concerning specific individual questions of suffering, but the Bible clearly speaks as to why suffering has always been a part of the human experience.