Tuesday, November 2, 2010

Thank God It's Monday


"Thank God it's Friday" is a statement most of us are familiar with.  We love our Fridays.  We cherish our weekends.  And while there is nothing wrong with that, we rarely say "Thank God it's Monday."  In fact, we bemoan Mondays.  We wake up grumpy and mourn the passing of yet another weekend.  That is something I am no less guilty of than anyone else, but it is something the Lord has been convicting me about.  In these trying times, we need to be thankful that God has given us a Monday to bemoan and a weekend to appreciate.  We need to be thankful that we have a job to go to.  We need to change our hearts from the idea of "having" to work to "getting" to work.  God tells us to rejoice in all things and to do all things as unto the Lord.  We need to celebrate our jobs and do our job as though Jesus Himself was our boss.  Today I want to share what the Bible has to say about work. 

Our study today begins in Genesis.
Then to Adam He said, "Because you have heeded the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree of which I commanded you, saying, 'You shall not eat of it': "Cursed is the ground for your sake; In toil you shall eat of it All the days of your life. Both thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you, And you shall eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread Till you return to the ground, For out of it you were taken; For dust you are, And to dust you shall return."  Genesis 3:17-19 NKJV
I know many believe that the consequences of Adam are not relevant to Christians.  That is not true.  Any mother will tell you that childbirth is still painful and any working man will tell you that work is hard.  We also experience physical death, another result of the curse.  We also know good and evil and continue to sin after our salvation.  The lifting of the curse is promised as part of our eternal reward where there will no longer be any sickness or death, sin, or work as we enter our eternal rest as the bride of Christ.  While on earth, work is hard.  Instead of complaining about the work we must do, we should be celebrating that our eternal retirement is coming.  We should look ahead to the hope that one day it will no longer be necessary.  So the first thing about work after accepting it as part of our reality while here on earth, is that we need to look ahead to the hope of our eternal reward.  Work is for now, salvation is forever.  Focusing beyond your present circumstances blurs the hardships of our present while we focus on the glory of our future. 
"Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your God. In it you shall do no work: you, nor your son, nor your daughter, nor your male servant, nor your female servant, nor your cattle, nor your stranger who is within your gates. For in six days the LORD made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, and rested the seventh day. Therefore the LORD blessed the Sabbath day and hallowed it.  Exodus 20:8-11 NKJV
God did not make us to work seven days a week. We need to take some time off to rest our bodies and to focus ourselves on the Lord.  For Christians, our "holy day" is usually Sunday.  Some of us do need to work on Sundays, but we have to be careful to keep the principle of having one day off to spend time with the Lord and our families and resting our bodies.  God made us and He knows what is best for us.  Working seven days a week takes away from our relationship with God and our families and we run our bodies down. 
But we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you withdraw from every brother who walks disorderly and not according to the tradition which he received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to follow us, for we were not disorderly among you; nor did we eat anyone's bread free of charge, but worked with labor and toil night and day, that we might not be a burden to any of you, not because we do not have authority, but to make ourselves an example of how you should follow us. For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies.Now those who are such we command and exhort through our Lord Jesus Christ that they work in quietness and eat their own bread.  2 Thessalonians 3:8-12 NKJV
From this passage we get two lessons.  First work is necessary so that we are not a burden to others.  It is one thing to support someone who can not earn their own, but it is a whole other to make yourself a burden when you can earn your own.  Paul worked for his own sustenance even when preaching the Gospel and did so as an example not only to the Thessalonians but to us as well.  We need to work to not burden others.  The other lessons is that we work so as not to get ourselves into trouble.  We all know the saying "Idle hands are the Devil's plaything."  There is much truth to that statement.  In today's world, as one does not work while the rest of the world works that person gets lonely and bored.  Often they will find themselves watching television shows or movies they should not be watching or going on the internet to places where they should not be.  They may also spend their days playing video games or all in all doing nothing productive. Work is important in keeping us out of trouble. 
But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his household, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.  1 Timothy 5:8 NKJV
We must provide for our households.  This is especially true for men.  We are the head of the households and it falls upon us to provide for ourselves, our wives, and our children.  Work is the means by which we do this.  While it is true that God is the ultimate provider, that provision generally comes in the form of a job.  We are not just sit and watch television and wait for God to magically put money into our checking accounts.  That would not be beneficial to us spiritually as I discussed earlier and it would not help us grow.  Furthermore, if God magically placed money into our accounts, people would be coming to Christ for the wrong reasons.  They would see Christ not as Lord and Savior but as some kind of mystical ATM machine.  Yes, as we seek God, God will provide for us, but that provision is in the form of a job and sustaining us during times in our lives when we can not work. 
He who tills his land will have plenty of bread, But he who follows frivolity will have poverty enough!  Proverbs 28:19 NKJV
If you want to prosper in life, you will have to work.  I know there are examples of those who win the lottery or fall into some kind of inheritance, but those cases are few and far between and studies have shown that those who do not earn their money have the tendency to lose it.  The way to achieve any kind of prosperity is to work for it and earn it.  People want to get rich quick and you can purchase any of a plethora of "proven" programs touted on infomercials to acquire a lot of money very quickly.  Those are whom God is speaking of here in "he who follows frivolity."  Those who chase after fantasies will reap its reward, that being poverty.  Instead of wasting your money and time on swindlers, you could have been working and earning. 
Then He spoke a parable to them, saying: "The ground of a certain rich man yielded plentifully. And he thought within himself, saying, 'What shall I do, since I have no room to store my crops?' So he said, 'I will do this: I will pull down my barns and build greater, and there I will store all my crops and my goods. 'And I will say to my soul, "Soul, you have many goods laid up for many years; take your ease; eat, drink, and be merry.' But God said to him, 'Fool! This night your soul will be required of you; then whose will those things be which you have provided?'  So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."  Luke 12:16-21 NKJV
Work is also the means by which we are to be generous.  If God gives us excess it is not for our own wealth but to share with others who may need it.  I wrote last week regarding God providing us the money to use for His work, and we see that expressed here.  Jesus makes it clear when He says "So is he who lays up treasure for himself, and is not rich toward God."  Work is not only for providing our needs but gives us the resources to share in God's work.  This rich man was given an amazing abundance and his response was to hoard it.  God calls him a fool.  May we not have that same selfish heart and be generous with the excess the Lord has provided us.

This passage also makes a good transition to some closing points about our heart towards work.  First, as we see here, that man stored up so much wealth but it was worthless before God when he faced Him at judgment.  Another cliche saying is "We can't take it with us."  How true that is.  Amassing for ourselves on earth does us no good in eternity so our focus on work should not be wealth. 
"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. For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also. Matthew 6:19-21 NKJV
If your motivation for work is for earthly treasure, than that is where you heart will be.  Your heart will not be towards the Lord.  You will not be able to keep eyes on your heavenly reward if your heart is in your earthly treasures.  You are hurting your relationship with God and hurting yourself in that you will never build enough wealth on earth to rest.  The more you get, the more you will think you need, and the more you need the further that impossible dream will be.  And, in the end, it will be worthless before the Lord anyway.  Keep your eyes in your eternal prize and you will never be disappointed with what happens on earth. 

So what should the motivation of our work be?  God answers that in His Word.
Bondservants, be obedient to those who are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in sincerity of heart, as to Christ; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but as bondservants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart, with goodwill doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men, knowing that whatever good anyone does, he will receive the same from the Lord, whether he is a slave or free.  Ephesians 6:5-8 NKJV
When we work, we need to work as unto the Lord.  Our motivation for work should be to please God.  We need to see Jesus as our Boss.  While we have earthly supervisors, managers, directors, foreman, and executives, we are ultimately accountable for God.  They would have no authority over us if not given by God.  We would not be their employee if God had not provided that job for us.  With the Lord as our boss, we should be joyful and trustworthy employees.  Our relationship with God needs to be the basis for our relationship with our bosses and fellow employees.  We need to be an ambassador for the Lord even in our workplace.  People will judge Jesus by what they see in you. What does it say about your God if you are a lazy worker?  What does it say about Him if you are constantly complaining?  What does it say about Him if you do not do your job to the best ability that the Lord has provided you?  What does it say about God if you get caught up in worldly sinful things like foul language, office gossip, etc?  What does it say about the Lord if you compromise your faith out of laziness, greed, peer pressure, or boss's orders?  We need to share the message of the Gospel but those words are meaningless if our witness does not match.  If God truly has power in your life, if Jesus is truly your Lord, if you are working under His authority as your Lord, if any of that be true then it must be expressed in your work.  If not, your words are empty and so is your witness.  Your actions bring shame to the name of our Lord.  That should not be.  

Glorify God in all that you do, especially in your work.  Thank God for Mondays, Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Thursdays, and Fridays.  Live all days unto the Lord.  Live all days in His peace, joy, and love.  Glorify the Lord in your work and He will reward you and His reward is better than any Christmas bonus or tax return that you can ever receive.  Work as unto the Lord and the Lord will pay you eternal wages.
Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God. And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality.  Colossians 3:22-25 NKJV

2 comments:

  1. With the Lord everything has a purpose...what a blessing and a comfort that is in the midst of..at times...drudgery! God is a great boss. But I am with Garfield...hate Mondays... thanks for the post.

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  2. Well put, Ben. We need to do everything as unto the Lord, even going to work on Mondays!

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