Summary: If God means what He says, & He is going to reward us according to our labor, then we ought to be asking ourselves, "What am I worth to God?" And I think the answer to that would depend upon our answer to 3 more questions: (PowerPoints available - #123)
MELVIN M. NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
(PowerPoints used with this message are available at no cost. Just email me at firstname.lastname@example.org and request #123.)
A. Tomorrow is Labor Day, & depending upon what radio station you listen to, you may have heard some reminders of that fact. That includes warnings that the Highway Patrol will be out in force, watching for speeders & drunk drivers, trying to make the holiday as safe for us as they can.
ILL. Now, I really don't know any of the popular songs today, so I don't know if there are any work-related or Labor Day songs - at least not like those sung a generation or so ago.
Some of us can remember Tennessee Ernie Ford singing, "You load 16 tons & what do you get? Another day older & deeper in debt. St. Peter, don't you call me cause I can't go. I owe my soul to the company store."
Or Frankie Laine singing, "Up in the morning, out on the job, work like the devil for my pay. But that lucky old sun got nothin' to do but roll around heaven all day."
They just don't seem to write songs like those anymore.
B. Labor Day has been a special day for a lot of reasons. And maybe the #1 reason for many of us to celebrate is the fact that we have something to do.
ILL. The story was told some years ago about 3 brothers who started working at the same time for a fur company owned by an old friend of their father.
After working there for more than a year, one son was still receiving the same salary as when he started, & seemed to be unhappy with his job. The 2nd son had received a raise; while the 3rd son had received a very generous raise.
Curious about this, the father went to see his old friend, the president of the company & said, "Jim, my 3 boys all work for you & I appreciate your giving them positions in your company. But I have a question. You pay one of them $2,500 a month, another $3,000, & the third $5,000. Why the difference?"
The president leaned back in his chair & was silent for a few moments. Then he answered, "Well, maybe I can show you why. Do you have enough spare time to wait around here for a while?"
"I can stay all day," the father said. "Well, I hope it won't take that long, but let's see." He picked up the phone & called the $2,500-a-month son & told him, "I hear the Ontario has just docked at the wharf, loaded with furs. Please go down there & see what cargo she's carrying & let me know."
About 3 minutes later the president's phone rang & the young fellow said, "I didn't have to go down there to get the information. I just telephoned them. They're carrying 1,500 sealskins." The president said, "Thank you."
He buzzed the next son, the $3,000 one, & said, "The Ontario has just docked. Will you please go down & see what she has on board & let me know at your earliest convenience?"
About an hour later the phone rang & the son reported, "I just went down & checked on the Ontario. She has 1,500 sealskins & some miscellaneous skins on board."
Then the president called the third son, the $5,000 one. He said, "The Ontario has docked," & told him the same story & made the same request. Four hours later the young man was back & came right to the president's office.
He said, "Well, she had 1,500 sealskins on board & all are in good shape. I contracted to buy them for $25 apiece, & filled that order we had from one of our customers. He bought all of them from us at $40 apiece."
"The Ontario also had 500 red fox pelts. Of course, we don't handle red fox, but I know someone who does, so I called him long distance & made a sale. That deal will net us about $6,000."
"There were also 39 mink skins on board. I went in & examined them. They're beautiful. Since you always like to handle the mink trade yourself, I took an option on them for the rest of today so I could report to you."
The president said, "Thank you. You did very well, & I'll check them out immediately." Then the young man left. Turning to the father, he asked, "Is your question answered?"
"Yes," replied the father, "the first one didn't even follow your instructions, the second did exactly what you asked, but the last one gave you his very best effort."
APPL. With that story in mind, listen to these words in 1 Corinthians 3:8-9, "Each will be rewarded according to his own labor. For we are God's fellow workers..."