A Christian Work Ethic

  I had shoulder surgery July 3rd so have been a “bit” hampered this summer, not only in playing tennis and giving tennis lessons as I normally do, but also in all our other many work projects between our garden, yard and supplying kindling and campfire wood for a local grocery store.  Needless to say, I have had to learn to ask for and accept help on a regular basis.  Praise the Lord for a couple neighbors who have been very willing to lend a hand (or literally, an arm—it is my right arm which has been rather useless!). I have learned to do some wood splitting with my left hand and a hatchet, but we’ve needed help getting wood and even tying up the bundles.  Thank the Lord for John and Jay!
     Also, our son Grant and grandson, Luke, stayed here for a week to help out. In addition to helping with our many projects, Grant wanted to teach his son how to work hard.  Growing up in Oregon City, there isn’t much opportunity to learn manual labor. Luke got lots of opportunity here that week. We had about a dozen fence posts and as many rails that needed to be replaced. They also helped with lawn mowing, some rain gutter repair, bush pruning, fixing an FM antennae, etc.  The days were hot too, so it was hot sweaty work!  I’m so grateful for their help. It was hard to not be able to do much myself to help out—but good for me too!
     Then our daughter Heidi also came for a week to help. She loves to pick huckleberries, so we hiked and picked berries. Our transparent apples needed picking too, so she helped Kathy make many, many batches of yummy apple sauce. Heidi also likes to get firewood, so we made a couple trips into the woods to get firewood. I have a small light chainsaw which she learned to use and even felled several trees and cut them up!  After all, we are the “Libby Loggers” here!  And the list of assists could go on!
     I’m so grateful our children grew up learning to work. What a blessing that was to us this summer, but it is also a blessing in their chosen vocations, since they have a great “Christian work ethic.” Our son is a teacher and coach and athletic director at a Christian school, and our daughter runs a beauty salon.  The rabbis had a teaching: “He who does not teach a son to work, teaches him to steal.”  Unfortunately so many young people are growing up today without really knowing how to work. Oh, they are geniuses when it comes to solving a computer problem or giving advice on how to use your smart phone, but really have no experience in any kind of manual labor—and probably have no desire to get any!  Few have any work ethic at all, let alone a “Christian work ethic.”   So, what in the world is that. I thought work is just what you have to do to make a living and have a roof over your head, food on the table and a vehicle to drive.
     Someone said, “In college, my friends kept talking about building their careers, but now they all just have jobs!”  Sound familiar? No matter how glowing a job prospect may seem before you land it, the doldrums and drudgery can set in. Or you get locked into a certain salary level or position and find that you’re working for an impossible boss. Or the organization you work for begins to disappoint you. There’s no end to the list of reasons for viewing our work through less-than-rose-colored glasses.
     And then, there is a false separation in the minds of many—including Christians—of the secular and sacred that has arisen throughout Church history. During the middle ages monasteries and nunneries were built to house those who wished to separate themselves from secular society. They believed their sacred callings to be exalted. Even today, many see those in “full-time ministry” to be answering God’s call to a more “sacred” occupation. But, the Bible makes no such distinction. All Christians—be they plumbers or physicians, computer software writers or secretaries, school teachers or salon owners—are in sacred occupations, for, as Paul writes in his letters, “Whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus…Whatever you do, do your work heartily, as for the Lord, rather than for men…It is the Lord Christ whom you serve” (Col. 3:17,23,24); “Whether, then, you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (I Cor. 10:31); “Let him who steals, steal no longer; but rather let him labor, performing with his own hands what is good, in order that he may have something to share with him who has need” (Eph. 4:28); “We urge you, brethren, to…make it your ambition to lead a quiet life and attend to your own business and work with your hands just as we commanded you; so that you may behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need” (I Thes. 4:10b-12). The tense of the verbs used in these verses implies a habit, or lifestyle. We are commanded to have a mindset of work, not laziness or expecting others to do for us what we should be doing for ourselves.
     Yesterday, our pastor preached a message on “Experiencing Him (God) in Your Work.”  He emphasized first that Work is Decreed by God (God gave Adam the job of caring for and cultivating the garden—before Adam sinned…Gen. 1:26-28; 2:15-20). His second point was that Work is a Blessing from God (We should have a joy and gladness in our work, knowing God provided the job and we are doing it as unto Him…Eccl. 2:24; 3:12,13; 5:18-20). The third point was that Work Honors God (again, there is no separation of sacred from secular—all work done for, with, and unto God, honors Him…Psa. 100:2). Finally, pastor shared that Work Bears Witness for God (Work is not just a platform for witness—work itself is a witness as we do it “heartily as for the Lord”…I Cor. 10:31).
     In The Pursuit of God, A. W. Tozer writes concerning our daily labors: “It may be difficult for the average Christian to get hold of the idea that their daily labors can be performed as acts of worship, acceptable to God by Jesus Christ.  We must offer all our acts to God and believe that he accepts them. Then hold firmly to that position and keep insisting that every act of every hour of the day and night be included in the transaction. Let us practice the fine art of making every work a priestly manifestation. Let us believe that God is in all our simple deeds and learn to find Him there.  Let every man abide in the calling wherein he is called and his work will be as sacred as the work of the ministry (It is a ministry)!  It is not what a man does that determines whether his work is sacred or secular; it is why he does it. The motive is everything. Let a man sanctify the Lord God in his heart and he can thereafter do no common act!”
    Forever His,
        Pastor Dave

About Pastor Dave

Until my retirement 2 years ago, I pastored an independent Bible church in Northwest Montana for nearly 38 years. During that time I also helped establish a Christian school, and a Bible Camp. I am married and have children and grandchildren. The Wisdom of the Week devotional is an outgrowth of my desire to share what God is doing in my life and in our world, and to challenge you to be a part.
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