Summary: As we look at these two passages of Scripture this morning, I think we are going to discover three important facts about the work that we do. (PowerPoints available - #266)
MELVIN NEWLAND, MINISTER
RIDGE CHAPEL, KANSAS, OK
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I think Labor Day is a kind of strange holiday. And it's difficult for a preacher to know what to preach on Labor Day Sunday. It's not one of the major holidays. Relatives don't come. There is no turkey to eat or presents to unwrap.
While we call it "Labor Day," we try to do as little labor as possible & most working people have the day off. I don’t recall anyone wishing me a "Happy Labor Day" or sending me a Labor Day card.
We don’t give corsages, decorate the house, or give Labor Day gifts. Even the florists & greeting card manufacturers haven’t found a way to capitalize on it. Of course, it’s a boon to resorts & tourist areas & a bad weekend for some church congregations because so many want to travel.
Yes, Labor Day is different to different people. To the factory or office worker, it may be a day off. But for mothers who have both Dad & the kids to deal with, it can be a difficult day.
For policemen, who must deal with extra heavy traffic & alcohol abuse, it’s a tough day. To farmers & ranchers, it’s just another day to feed the cattle & work in the field.
I suppose one reason we have a Labor Day is because we seem to need a holiday every few months or so. It is the end of summer. School is starting. Vacations are over & it's time to put your nose to the grindstone, & your shoulder to the wheel once again.
As a preacher, I could just ignore it, but after all, our work occupies much of our thinking & dominates many of our conversations. Work dictates where we will live & often determines many of our friendships. And our work often influences our relationship with others.
Indeed, the work we do is a very important part of our life. So I want to look at a couple of Scriptures this morning that deal with work.
The first one is Colossians 3:23-24. "Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving."
ILL. By the way, someone has written that there are 4 kinds of bones in the world:
WISH BONES who spend their time wishing someone else would do the work;
JAW BONES who do all the talking, but very little else;
KNUCKLE BONES who knock everything that anyone else is trying to do;
& BACK BONES who shoulder the load & actually do the work.
Now we may smile at that, but I believe that one of the great mistakes of our society is in dividing the world up into categories. Here is the economic world, & one set of values & rules governs the economic world. Over here is the world of religion, & another set of values governs that world.
We come to church on Sunday & we are influenced by the values & commands of God. But when we go to work on Monday we are influenced by the values & rules of man. We are trying to live under two distinct authorities that are often in conflict with one another.
It seems to me that Paul is saying that these worlds do not have to be in conflict, because the work that we do should not be done just for men but rather it ought to be done as if for God.
So as we look at these passages of Scripture this morning, I think we are going to discover three important facts about the work that we do.
I. THE NATURE OF WORK
The first is the nature of work. "What is the nature of work?" The world tells us that work is a struggle to climb up the ladder of success to gain as much of the world's status & power as we can.
But Paul tells us to consider our work as a service to God. Regardless of what we do we are to serve God in the work that we perform.
If we look at work that way, it will dispel the idea of judging people by the kind of work which they do.
The world says that the person who works with his hands is not nearly as important as the person who works with his mind. Therefore it gives greater rewards to executives, supervisors, the people who think things through & tell others what to do. And that often produces a professional snobbishness.
ILL. Snobbishness goes both ways. The first congregation I served in Mo. was made up primarily of farmers & shoe factory workers. They came to church on Sunday with calluses on their hands & grease under their fingernails, & if anyone different came in, they would wonder, "What are they doing here?"