Summary: Our labor bears fruits but the fruits are not worth eating. This sermon debunks the idea that the fruit of our labor is worth eating or enjoying. This is the first part of a two part sermon
Labor generally signifies heavy duty task, work or effort. Oftentimes, it is something we'd rather not do but because of some inherent benefits we continue to do it. For a married woman, who trusted and believed God for the fruit of the womb, getting pregnant and going into labor - though hard, it yields great fruits. Some get one fruit, some two and so on. The labor period for the pregnant woman is not fun because of the huffing and puffing, pain, unpredictability of the duration, feels like it is forever - but when you hear that sound of the baby crying, your labor is over. Men may not go into physical labor with their wives, but we have heard many stories about men passing out in the delivery room.
Eating this fruit is a metaphor, not literally. As you know, a pregnant woman generally does not desire to eat her child. Eating is like enjoying the fruit. If your labor yields monetary fruit, then your desire is not to eat the money but using the money for your enjoyment. If your fruit after years of studying as a student is a degree, then your goal is not to eat the certificate but use it to get a better job, business or something that will bring you much delight.
Rebekah in the Bible experienced hard and prolonged labor - the Bible says two nations were in her womb (Gen 25:22-23). Esau the father of the Edomites, and Jacob the father of the Israelites. The Edomites and Israelites became the fruits of Rebekah's labor. Jacob's labor was wrestling with the Angel, and he got blessed (Gen 32:28). Let us consider few types of labor in the Bible:
TYPES OF LABOR
No one can deny the hard work performed by apostle Paul. Apart from the 13 epistles credited to his writing - we can identify a number of challenges he faced in performing the labor. He was known as Saul and He was a pharisee (Phil 3:5) before he became an apostle. Pharisee was a Jewish held in higher esteem due to their claimed knowledge of the law. He was also a tent-builder or building contractor. Before he met Jesus, he was a zealous Pharisee - that is, not only was he an enlightened lawyer of the law, he was so passionate about his profession that he persecuted anyone that did not abide by the laws of the religion - Acts 8:1-3.
The labor of Paul can be split into two parts - Pre-conversion and Post-conversion labor.
Pre-conversion labor - was to make havoc of the church Acts 8:3
He embarked upon a journey to Damascus to perform one of the hardest and most intense and arduous labor of his life - Acts 9:1-2.
On the way, something happened: Acts 9:3-7. He became blind, he was instructed to go to the city, and further instructions will be given. A spectacular event was about to occur.
The process of change or this spectacular transformation - Acts 9:10-19
Vs 11, Saul was at Straight street; there was something significant and peculiar about the name of the street "Straight". It was not named "Curve", but "Straight". This word "Straight" is associated with doing something right, in the proper way, and most appropriate manner. Paul was in a house on a street where things were done right, in the proper manner, and most appropriate fashion.
Vs 13-14 A disciple named Ananias received confirmation of Saul's new labor. However, Ananias was petrified about Saul performing this new task. He reminded the Lord of Saul's labor - a trained lawyer who causes havoc for the church. His mission can only be one thing - causing havoc in the church.
Vs 15-16 The Lord commanded Ananias to go as instructed. The new labor will be directed to non-believers, those in authority, and believers ('or supposedly Christians) - essentially all humanities. The new labor require a different kind of disciple, not the same old type like Ananias - not disciples that are afraid of people causing havoc, not disciples that can be intimidated by lawyers or the learned, the Lord confirmed that the labor is not for the weak pastors, or bishops contended with robes and titles, nor was it for "christianzzzz" (this is the code for lazy christians or acting ones) comfortable warming up the pews every Sunday. The Lord was not interested in people with great track record of maintaining the status quo of preaching to the same people every day, but someone with zeal and potential to take the work to the highest level on earth - the White House (kings), the no house (non-believers or Gentiles), or God's house (children of israel or christianzzzzzz). Saul performed hard labor before but he will now be committed to a different type of hard labor. He was quite appropriate for this role because singlehandedly, he became a human principality to the church.