When my children were younger, one remarked, “Dad has a Bible verse for everything.” While I hope that is still true (seeing that the Bible applies to all areas of life), in recent days, I have been connecting various songs to certain situations to bring a little humor into life. And that is biblical! Proverbs 17:22 (ESV) says, “A joyful [cheerful, happy] heart is good medicine….”
In 1 Thessalonians 4:11, we read, “and to aspire to live quietly, and to mind your own affairs, and to work with your hands, as we instructed you.” Paul lets the Thessalonians know that a life that pleases God involves working hard. He also shared with the Ephesian church (Ephesians 4:28), “He who steals must steal no longer, but rather he must labor, performing with his own hands what is good, so that he will have something to share with one who has need.” Later, Paul instructed the Thessalonians (2 Thessalonians 3:11 – ESV) that “if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
So from a biblical standpoint, work is a good and necessary thing. Whether we are “Working in the Coal Mine” or working at the “Car Wash,” “[We should] Work Hard for the Money” from “9 to 5”. Whether we drive or take the “Morning Train,” don’t be just “Working for the Weekend,” but be grateful we can head off to work and “[Take] Care of Business.” Put in “A Hard Days Night” and resist the urge to “Take This Job and Shove It.” See, just reading this paragraph was good medicine for you.
Hopefully, understanding Paul’s instructions to us regarding work will be good as well. Paul tells us to work with our hands in both Thessalonians and Ephesians. God has equipped us with certain gifts, talents, and abilities. We are to use these wisely and diligently to honor God and help ourselves.
Working hard demonstrates thankfulness to God for how He made us and the opportunities He has given us. Although God could rain down manna from heaven, He allows us to work to have the resources to purchase the food we need to sustain our lives. Working also keeps us from stealing (which would break commandment #8). In God’s grace, work is a provision and protection.
But it’s not just a provision and protection for ourselves. It’s a provision and protection for others. We work “so that [we] will have something to share with one who has need.” And we work “so that [we] may walk properly before outsiders and be dependent on no one. (1 Thessalonians 4:12). As we work hard, we are compensated for that work. We are not at the mercy of others to take care of us, but we can take care of ourselves by God’s mercy. We can meet our own needs (not dependent on anyone), and we also can meet the needs of others. Because we live in a broken world, sometimes people cannot make ends meet, and God uses us to demonstrate His love and kindness.
The right perspective on work enables us to walk properly before outsiders, too. Therefore, our work ethic is not a “bad light” on the Gospel of Jesus. We have been changed and transformed by Jesus to bring light to a dark world. Our dependability, faithfulness, time consciousness, follow-through, and ingenuity point to God and allow others to see Him. If we are unproductive, lazy, and waste time while on the clock, then we are not representing Christ well.
This week we need to put aside our selfish desires and thoughts and work as unto the Lord. “Go to the ant, O sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise. Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest. How long will you lie there, O sluggard? When will you arise from your sleep? A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like a robber and want like an armed man.” (Proverbs 6:6-11 ESV).
Then, when we are done being a “worker ant,” we leave at the end of the day singing, “Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho, It’s home from work we go. Heigh-ho, Heigh-ho.”