Summary: 11th & Final in the series "Left Behind: 1 & 2 Thessalonians." A theology of work.
If you’re into bumper-sticker philosophy, you’ve probably seen the axiom, "I owe, I owe, so off to work I go." For a vast portion of the workforce, that’s the best reason they can muster for going to the job each day. According to one poll, only 43 percent of American office workers are satisfied with their jobs. In Japan, the figure dips to 17 percent.
The Greeks of Paul’s day had a warped view of work. They believed work to be demeaning. The famous poet, Homer, said that “the gods hated men and the way they demonstrated their hatred was to invent work and punish men by making them work(4).” That philosophy has subtly crept into many Christian’s thinking.
Some think that work is part of the curse—and it is true that God said that because of Man’s sin he would work by the sweat of His brow and because of sin it became more difficult—but work was part of the original design of creation –God modeled the 6-1 work rest pattern in his creation and the scripture says plainly that before the fall work was part of God’s design.
Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
Today’s passage gives us a solid biblical view of what work is—there are four things we need to understand about work to have a proper view of it.
6In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.
11-12 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.
Work is God’s command to us and as such we are to engage in it as service not to man and not just to pay the bills and fill the belly but as service to our king:
Colossians 3:22-24Slaves, obey your earthly masters in everything; and do it, not only when their eye is on you and to win their favor, but with sincerity of heart and reverence for the Lord. 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving.
Preacher H A Ironside recalls an incident working as a boy for a Christian Shoe maker named Dan Mackay. He was a devout Christian and his little shop was a real testimony for Christ in the neighborhood.
On the little counter in front of the bench on which the owner of the shop sat, was a Bible, generally open, and a pile of gospel tracts. No package went out of that shop without a printed message wrapped inside. And whenever opportunity offered, the customers were spoken to kindly and tactfully about the importance of being born again and the blessedness of knowing that the soul is saved through faith in Christ. Many came back to ask for more literature or to inquire more particularly as to how they might find peace with God, with the blessed results that men and women were saved, frequently right in the shoe shop.
It was Harry’s chief responsibility to pound leather for shoe soles. A piece of cowhide would be cut to suite, then soaked in water. He had a flat piece of iron over my knees and, with a flat-headed hammer, I pounded these soles until they were hard and dry. It seemed an endless operation, and He wearied of it many times.
What made the task worse was the fact that, a block away, there was another shop that I passed going and coming to or from my home, and in it sat a jolly, godless cobbler who gathered the boys of the neighborhood about him and regaled them with dirty stories that made him dreaded by respectable parents as a menace to the community. Yet, somehow, he seemed to thrive. As Harry looked in his window, He often noticed that he never pounded the soles at all, but took them from the water, nailed them on, damp as they were, and with the water splashing from them as he drove each nail in.
One day Harry ventured inside, something I had been warned never to do. Timidly, I said, "I notice you put the soles on while still wet. Are they just as good as if they were pounded?" He gave me a wicked leer as he answered, "They come back all the quicker this way, my boy!"