Summary: Work we must in this world but let us not work for this world! Work in this world not only as if for the Lord but always for the Lord and for things eternal.
For What Do You Work?
Text: Matthew 6:19-21
I had a conversation recently with Sister Meredith, it was really just an idle chat after class one Wednesday evening. I had made the observation that for her every night was Friday night as she was now on her summer break from teaching. That led to a couple of comments about work in general that stayed with me as I drove home that evening and the next morning when I was listening to the radio while driving to work and one of the commentators was recounting the story of a couple who were suffering from the state of the economy. The commentator made the statement that “in the economic downturn they had lost everything they had worked for” and I thought how very sad. Not over the couples’ financial condition, though there was no joy to be had in that, but that “everything they had worked for” could be wiped out by a worldly event such as a weak economy.
And so that is the question I would like us to consider in our lesson today: For what do you work?
Which is an entirely different question than, Why do you work?
I. Work Has Been With Us Since Adam
A. Adam was given a job by God
1. Genesis 2:15 Then the LORD God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden to cultivate it and keep it.
a. Human work was a part of God’s original intent for His creation. It is a divine gift and is not to be viewed as a punishment. (Adam ate of the fruit of the garden.)
b. In human work God was sharing a part of His responsibility to care for the world He created. Labor is a normal part of the responsibility of God’s people.
2. This activity did not become drudgery until the fall.
a. Genesis 3:17 - 19 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. “Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, Till you return to the ground, Because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.”
B. We see God’s people working throughout the Bible
1. Abraham was a shepherd, as was David.
2. King Solomon had much to say concerning our labor
a. Proverbs 10:4 Poor is he who works with a negligent hand, But the hand of the diligent makes rich.
b. Proverbs 13:11 Wealth obtained by fraud dwindles, But the one who gathers by labor increases it.
c. Proverbs 14:23 In all labor there is profit, But mere talk leads only to poverty.
d. Proverbs 16:26 A worker’s appetite works for him, For his hunger urges him on.
1) And there is the root of why we work!
2) And there are literally dozens more.
3. In the New Testament we are told of many of the Apostles’ job.
a. Most were fisherman: Peter, Andrew, James, and John.
b. Matthew was a tax collector.
c. Paul was a tent maker.
1) Paul supported himself and others while in Ephesus
Acts 20:34 “You yourselves know that these hands ministered to my own needs and to the men who were with me.
2) Also at Corinth and Thessalonica so that he would not put a burden on these poorer churches and to set an example.
d. It is likely, since He did not begin His ministry until He was thirty and due to Jewish tradition, that Jesus learned the carpenter trade from Joseph.
C. Work is expected and even command of us.
1. It is clear that we are expected to work.
a. 1 Thessalonians 4:9 - 12 Now as to the love of the brethren, you have no need for anyone to write to you, for you yourselves are taught by God to love one another; for indeed you do practice it toward all the brethren who are in all Macedonia. But we urge you, brethren, to excel still more, and 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 will behave properly toward outsiders and not be in any need.
b. 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.