Summary: Sermon for Labor Day on a Biblical view of work


A Biblical View of Work

Labor Day Sunday

September 2, 2007

Pastor Brian Matherlee

A man in a hot air balloon realized he was lost. He reduced altitude and spotted a woman below. He descended a bit more and shouted, "Excuse me, can you help me? I promised a friend I would meet him an hour ago, but I don’t know where I am." The woman below replied, "You’re in a hot air balloon hovering approximately 30 feet above the ground. You’re between 40 and 41 degrees north latitude and between 59 and 60 degrees west longitude." "You must be an engineer," said the balloonist. I am," replied the woman, "How did you know?"

"Well," answered the balloonist, "everything you told me is, technically correct, but I’ve no idea what to make of your information, and the fact is I’m still lost. Frankly, you’ve not been much help at all. If anything, you’ve delayed my trip."

The woman below responded, "You must be in Management."

"I am," replied the balloonist, "but how did you know?"

"Well," said the woman, "you don’t know where you are or where you’re going. You have risen to where you are due to a large quantity of hot air. You made a promise, which you’ve no idea how to keep, and you expect people beneath you to solve your problems. The fact is you are in exactly the same position you were in before we met, but now, somehow, it’s my fault."

Each day across the USA 50,000 people quit their jobs. In a recent survey of workers across the USA, nearly 85% said that they could work harder at their job. More than half claimed they could double their effectiveness "if (they) wanted to." Managing the Equity Factor, R Huseman, J Hatfield, 1989

U.S. Workers feel rushed on the job, but are getting less accomplished due to technology intended to make work quicker and easier. “Technology has sped everything up and, by speeding everything up, it’s slowed everything down, paradoxically,” says John Challenger (of Challenger, Gray & Christmas Consultants). “We never concentrate on one task anymore. You take a little chip out of it, and then you’re on to the next thing.” Workers are bombarded with e-mail, cell phone calls, and voice mails. The average time spent on a computer was almost 16 hours a week last year vs. 9.5 hours a decade ago. 46 e-mails a day is now typical. In ‘94, 82% of workers accomplished at least half their daily planned work; now only 50% do so. Then 40% of workers called themselves successful vs. just 28% today. (Reuters 2/22/06)

Work today isn’t what it used to be.

Most people go to work and tolerate it. Many go to work and hate it! Wouldn’t you like to go to work and love it?

What does the Bible say about work? Ecclesiastes 1:3

1. It is good!

a. Genesis 1:1-2:3

i. Earth, plants, animals, etc. were “good”

ii. Everything together and God saw it was “very good”

b. The trouble came when Adam and Eve sinned (3:17-19)

i. Toil was there but their actions brought “painful toil”

ii. Thorns & sweat are introduced into the mix.

c. The God intended focus of work was three–fold:

i. Joy

ii. Creativity

iii. Provision

2. We’re to take a break from it

a. Genesis 2:2-3

b. The seventh day is set apart from the first six because God "sanctified" it. On this day God does not "speak," nor does he "work" as he had on the previous days. On this day he "blessed" (GK H3385) and "sanctified" (NIV, "made it holy"; GK H7727), but he did not "work." The reader is left with a somber and repetitive reminder of only one fact: God did not work on the seventh day. While little else is recounted, it is repeated three times, emphasizing God’s "rest." If the purpose of pointing to the "likeness" between humans and their Creator was to call on the reader to be more like God (e.g., Lev 11:45), then the seventh day stresses the very thing that they elsewhere are called on to do: "rest" on the seventh day (cf. Ex 20:8-11) (Source: Pradis, Zondervan NIV Bible Commentary)

c. God didn’t take a break because He couldn’t go on anymore. God took a break because He was establishing a beneficial pattern for His people.

d. Taking a break from work does several things:

i. Refreshes the body

ii. Refocuses the mind

1. thinking harder doesn’t always make ideas come

iii. Reconnects our relationships

1. Primarily with God

2. Secondarily with Family

iv. Testifies to a busy world

3. When you’re on the job—work!

a. Jesus tells the story in Matthew 25:14-30 of a man who gave instructions to 3 servants….

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