We’re preaching through the Book of Proverbs. A human proverb is a short sentence based on long experience, but these are short sentences based on something better than long experience. They’re based on the inspiration of the Holy Spirit, as given to Solomon. Now, today I have a message that I just pray God the Holy Spirit will burn into your heart because, if you understand the message today, I can promise you that it will literally transform your life. I’ve never preached on this subject—that is, a whole message on this subject. I have alluded to it. But, I believe it is a foundational truth, and I’m really amazed that I’ve not brought a whole message on this particular subject before.
Proverbs chapter 14 and verse 23, and just the first part of that verse: “In all labour there is profit” (Proverbs 14:23)—“In all labour there is profit.” I want to talk to you today about “God’s Grace in the Workplace”—“God’s Grace in the Workplace.” And again, I want to tell you, if you understand what I have to say today, it’s going to transform your work. It’s going to change it from boredom to blessing. It’s going to change it from monotony to meaning. It’s going to change it from drudgery to dignity. It’s going to change it from the same old grind, to glory, if you understand what I have to say.
You see, so many people are sick and tired of what they do. I mean, they endure their work; they don’t enjoy their work. They think their job is meaningless. They think that some people have happy jobs, some people have exciting work, some people have thrilling things to do, but not them. They draw their breath and draw their salary. They wake up in the morning and take a bath, shave, go down, drink a cup of coffee, eat a piece of toast, scald their throat because they’re running a little late, drink their coffee too fast, then they run out and fight the traffic and get to work. It’s the same old thing, day after day. Then they come home at night, take a couple of aspirin, sit down and watch the evening news, discuss things with the wife, maybe putter around in the yard a little bit, then go to bed. The next day, the same old thing—nothing exciting, nothing meaningful, nothing thrilling; it just seems to be so humdrum, so meaningless.
Now, they love God, and they serve God, but they have the idea that the only time they can serve God is when they’re not working. They want to get off work so they can serve God, so they give their prime time to the employer and then they give the leftovers to God. They give the weekends to God. They’re serving God sort of halftime. It’s not even really halftime, because they give most of their prime hours, and the best hours, to the boss. They’re trying to serve two masters and, of course, Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters” (Matthew 6:24). And, I believe there are some of you who are sitting here listening to me today, perhaps most of you, who are guilty of doing what I call split-level living.
Now, I want you to get something in your heart today, and oh, I pray God that He’ll help me to get it into your heart today—and it is this: You may be a very ordinary person. You may think there’s nothing exciting about you. But, you see, God loves ordinary people. He made most of that kind. Isn’t that right? I mean, He must like them, since He made so many of them, right? God makes ordinary people. They’re the handiwork of God.
Look in 1 Corinthians chapter 1, verse 26, “For ye see your calling, brethren… not many mighty, not many noble, are called” (1 Corinthians 1:26). You see? God uses ordinary people. But, here’s the secret: God takes ordinary people and He gives them extraordinary power. God infuses us with His Holy Spirit, so we’re no longer ordinary, because, when we get saved, we become extraordinary. But now, wait a minute. God takes ordinary people, God gives ordinary people extraordinary power, and then God puts those ordinary people—are you watching this?—in ordinary places. Now, you’d better learn this: When God takes an ordinary person and gives him extraordinary power, then puts that ordinary person in an ordinary place with extraordinary power, He does extraordinary things through an ordinary person.
Now, if you’ll learn this and get this into your heart, it’s going to transform your life. You see, we neatly divide life up into the secular and the sacred. There are so many people who say to me something like this: “You know, Pastor, what I would really like to do, I mean, if I could do what I would really like to do? Well, I’d just like to get out of this job and serve God. Boy, I’d just like to serve God full-time.” Have you ever thought that? Boy, if I could just quit what I’m doing. Boy, it’d be so wonderful to be like you. It’d be so wonderful to be like Brother Phil. It’d be so wonderful, if I could just get out of what I’m doing and serve God full-time. Now, O God, help me to teach you today that, if you are a Christian living in the Spirit, you are serving God full-time. I don’t care where you work—it is an honorable occupation. You are serving God full-time. Your work is to be the temple of your devotion, and it is to be the platform of your witness.
You see, we divide life up into the secular and the sacred, but not the Bible, not the New Testament. In the Old Testament, they did, but not in the New Testament. In the Old Testament, they had priests and then the rest of the people. But, in the New Testament, we’re all priests. In the Old Testament, there was a temple that people went to; but Jesus said, “It’s neither in this place, nor in that place, but everywhere… we worship God in Spirit and in truth” (John 4:21–24). In the Old Testament, they divided foods up into the clean and the unclean. But, in the New Testament, “Thus he spake, making all meats clean” (Mark 7:19). In the Old Testament, certain days were set aside. But, in the New Testament, every day is a holy day, and every day is a sacred place, and every job has dignity, if it is an honorable work. Every Christian is a priest, and every Christian is a minister, and every Christian is doing full-time Christian service.
Now, you may not believe that right now, but l believe you will when I get finished with the message, not because I think I’m so sharp, but because of what God’s Word has to say. “In all labour there is profit.” You may not be in an exciting job. I mean, your job may be in a factory screwing lids on tubes of toothpaste all day long. Maybe that’s what you do all day long. Or, you may be working in an office as a clerk. Or, you may be pumping gasoline; you may be digging ditches; you may be building houses; you may be doing one of a myriad of a number of things. But, I want to tell you, dear friend, if you learn what I have to tell you today from the Word of God, it is going to turn that drudgery into delight; it’s going to turn that monotony into magnificence. And, you’re going to find out that you are where God has placed you, and you’re there for a specific purpose.
Three things I want you to see. Number one: I want you to see the sacredness of everyday work. Secondly, I want you to see the sphere of everyday work. And, thirdly, I want you see the service of everyday work.
I. The Sacredness of Everyday Work
What is the sacredness of everyday work? Don’t get the idea that to serve God you have to be a minister, or a missionary, or on the staff of some Christian organization. Every job, if it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, is a sacred job. Every one! Now, listen. Let me give you a verse of Scripture—Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 5. Just jot these down, and we won’t go back and forth through the Scripture, unless I ask you to turn to it—but just jot them down. Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 5. I’m talking now about the sacredness of everyday work: “In all labour,” Proverbs tells us, “there is profit.” Listen to it: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh”—employees, be obedient to your boss: that’s what he’s saying, even though he is not a Christian. He is your master according to the flesh, not according to the Spirit—”with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ” (Ephesians 6:5). You mean, I’m to work for my boss as though he were Jesus? That’s right. That two-legged devil? That’s right. You are to work for him as though he were Jesus Christ. Because God owns the company that he thinks he owns. This is my Father’s world, and you are to serve the Lord Jesus.
Now, what I want to show you—I want to use an example for the message today—a man named Daniel. Be finding the Book of Daniel, and just keep one bookmark in the Book of Proverbs. Daniel is going to be the chief illustration of this passage of Scripture in the Book of Proverbs chapter 14 and verse 23: “In all labour there is profit.”
You will remember that Daniel was taken as a captive from Israel and he was carried to Babylon by Nebuchadnezzar. And, there in Babylon he had a secular job. Daniel’s job was that he was a governmental bureaucrat. They trained him and they pressed him into the service of the government. As a governmental bureaucrat, he really served the Lord Jesus. Don’t get the idea that Daniel was a pastor or that Daniel was a priest. He was not. Daniel was what we would call today a businessman, in ordinary work.
But, I want you to notice what the king said when Daniel was in the lions’ den. You remember Daniel refused to do certain things when he was in Babylon, and they threw him in the lions’ den as a sort of a punishment, and the lions got lockjaw. Daniel just relaxed and pulled up an old fluffy lion for a pillow, and got out his Old Testament, and began to read between the lions. He was just having a wonderful time there, doing his devotions. And, the king looked in—Daniel chapter 6 and verse 20: “And when he came to the den,”—that is, the king—”he cried with a lamentable voice unto Daniel: and the king spake and said to Daniel,”—now, listen. Here’s what the King said to Daniel. Remember that Daniel was not a preacher, not a priest, in the classic sense of the word—”O Daniel, servant of the living God, is thy God, whom thou servest continually, able to deliver thee from the lions?” (Daniel 6:20). Now, notice what the king said. He said, “Daniel, you’re a servant of the living God. Has that God, whom you serve continually, been able to deliver you from the lions?” And, of course, God had been able to deliver him.
Now, what am I trying to say? Here was a man who had a secular job, and yet even his enemies, and the unsaved people of this world, had to admit that his secular job was really a sacred job, that he was really serving God. You may be a housewife. Well, not a housewife—I don’t like that word housewife. You’re not married to a house. You may be a homemaker, and you might think, “Oh well, what’s this got to do with serving the Lord?” Friend, there’s no higher occupation than serving the Lord by being a homemaker. One woman has over her kitchen sink these words: “Divine services held here three times a day,” as she does those dishes.
The sacredness of what we call secular work, the sacredness of everyday work: If you do it in the name of Jesus, as to Jesus, in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will receive the same reward for doing that job that I receive for doing this job. You may not believe it. You may not think it is so. You may think that your job is not an important job at all—“Nobody cares about me; nobody knows about me.” Friend, God knows about you, even if you don’t get to lead in silent prayer in the children’s department. God knows about you, and God has His eye upon you. And, the Bible says those of you who are in secular work are serving the Lord Christ. Every Christian, therefore, is in full-time Christian work—Ephesians chapter 6 and verse 5. Never forget it.
II. The Sphere of Everyday Work
Now, the second thing I want you to learn: not only the sacredness of everyday work, but the sphere of everyday work. Where are you called to do this everyday work? You say, “Well, if I’m going to do it, I sure would like to be in a Christian company. I sure would like to be surrounded by Christians. Boy, you just don’t know; you just don’t know the people that I work with, Brother Rogers. I just don’t believe God wants me in this place. Boy, I mean, it must be nice for you to be around all those people in the church, you know? They’re always smiling, always preaching, and always praising God. The only time I hear God’s name mentioned where I work is when people are cursing. And, Preacher, you just cannot believe the obscene stories. And, you just cannot know the awful cartoons and things that are passed around. You just can’t believe the flirtation, and the way people dress, and the way they talk, and the greed, and the dog-eat-dog, and the ambition, and the throat cutting, and all of the materialism and the gossip that goes on. Oh, Preacher, if God would only get me out of this place so I could serve Him!”
Friend, God put you in that place so you could serve Him. You may not believe that, but I want to tell you, God put Daniel in Babylon. “Preacher, you’re talking about being called to your work. God called you to the ministry. God called Brother Bob Sorrell out of the business world into the ministry. God called Brother Phil Weatherwax into the ministry. Oh, if God would just call me! But, God didn’t call me. I’m just where I am as a victim of circumstances. To be very honest with you, Preacher, I took this job just because it was the only one I could get. I just had to have it, and I don’t know what I would do right now, if I quit this job. I don’t know where I’d go, so I have to stay here. But, I don’t have a sense of calling. I don’t have a sense of meaning. It’s just something I have to do because I’ve got to live; I’ve got to eat. But, I wish to God that I had a sense that God placed me where I am.”
Well, friend, God may have placed you where you are, and you’d not know anything about it, and you didn’t have any sense of call at all. Let me ask you a question: Was Daniel a servant of God? Indeed, he was. Did he serve God? Indeed, he did. Was he where God wanted him? Indeed, He was. How did he get there? By circumstances beyond his control, at least what he thought were beyond his control. He was picked up by King Nebuchadnezzar, and he was brought as an exile to the land of Babylon, that place of wickedness. But, let me tell you something: How did he really get there? How did he really get there? I want you to put this verse down so you can read it when you get home: Jeremiah 29 and verse 4 (Jeremiah 29:4). Dear friend, we are called as Christians to confront this world with the gospel of Jesus Christ.
We do something around this church that’s a little artificial. I’m in favor of it because it’s necessary. You know what it is? We get everybody down here on a certain night, and give them cards, and tell them to go out and witness. I tell you, dear friend, there’s a better way. There’s a better way, and that is every day you’re to witness for the Lord Jesus Christ on your job. We call this lifestyle evangelism, and you’re going to be hearing a whole lot more about this thing of lifestyle evangelism. It’s not that you go take some names and go out and see somebody you don’t know, but that you work side by side, day by day, with those that you do know. You let your light shine there in that dark place where God has placed you.
Listen to this scripture—Matthew chapter 5, verse 14: “Ye are the light of the world…”—“Ye are the light of the world. A city that is set on an hill cannot be hid. Neither do men light a candle, and put it under a bushel, but on a candlestick; and it giveth light unto all that are in the house” (Matthew 5:14). For a light to be valuable, it must be visible. Therefore, God doesn’t want you under a basket called a church house. God wants that light where it can be seen. I want to tell you that your job—are you listening to me?—your job is the lampstand that God has ordained where you let your light shine. And, if God has placed you there, that is the place where God wants you. That is the sphere of your ministry, and it is a fulltime ministry.
So many times we just say, “O God, I want to get out of Babylon. God, I want to get out of Babylon. Lord, I just want to do something for you. I want to get away from this worldly influence.” Well, friend, God’s plan for you is not to flee from the world. God’s plan for you is to confront the world, and to overcome the world, and to witness to the world. Listen to these scriptures—John 17, verse 15—Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). God’s plan is not that you be taken out of that worldly environment, but that you would live a good Christian life in it.
1 Corinthians chapter 5 verses 9 and 10—listen to these verses—Paul said, “I wrote
you in my epistle not to keep company with sexually Immoral people, yet I certainly did not mean with the sexually immoral people of this world, or with the covetous, or extortioners, or idolaters; since then you would need to go out of the world.” (1 Corinthians 5:9–10). Paul said, “If you try to live a life where you’re not going to come in contact with anybody who’s dishonest, or anybody who’s a pervert, or anybody who’s full of sexual innuendoes, or full of dishonesty; if you’re trying to live without touching the lives of those people,” Paul says, “the only way for you to live is to be somewhere with Prince Mongo in Zambodia,” or wherever it is he lives. You couldn’t live here. You couldn’t live here. You’d have to get out of this world. Now, what I’m trying to say is this—folks, listen: This world—this world—is where we live, and this world is where God has placed you.
Romans chapter 12, verse 21 says, “Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good” (Romans 12:21). We’re not to flee from the world; we’re to confront the world. 1 John chapter 5, verses 4 and 5: “For whatsoever is born of God overcometh the world: and this is the victory that overcometh the world, even our faith” (1 John 5:4). God has placed you in Babylon. God put Daniel in Babylon; God put you in Babylon. God has placed you there, and the work that you do there—as Daniel served the Lord God, you’re to serve the Lord God.
“In all labour there is profit.” Now, that doesn’t mean that you can do everything in Babylon. That doesn’t mean, when you’re in Babylon, do as the Babylonians do. Jesus said, “I pray not that thou shouldest take them out of the world, but that thou shouldest keep them from the evil” (John 17:15). There were certain things in Babylon that Daniel refused to do, and he got thrown in the lions’ den; he got some persecution. There are some things that you cannot do. That’s what’s going to make you distinctively different, and that’s what’s going to make you so effective when you are in Babylon. You have been saved out of the world, and then sent back into the world, to witness to the world. And, that’s the only business in the world you have in the world, till you’re taken out of the world.
I want to give you some verses—Philippians 2, verse 15—listen to it: “That ye may be blameless and harmless,”—that’s what Daniel was—“the sons of God, without rebuke, in the midst of a crooked and perverse nation, among whom ye shine as lights in the world” (Philippians 2:15). Where is the light to shine? Where? In the middle of a crooked and perverse generation. It is not God’s will to get you out of that ungodly place where you work. You shine as lights in the world, in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation.
If you were going to put a lighthouse, where would you put a lighthouse? In downtown Manhattan? No. You’d put a lighthouse out on some rocky, craggy, barren coast, so that lighthouse can help some ship that’s about to go under. And, that’s why God has put you where He’s put you. Listen to it again—Philippians 2 and verse 15: “That ye may become blameless and harmless, children of God; without fault, in the middle of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world.”
When Daniel was in that fiery furnace, it was at that time that he went through the fiery furnace, and refused to do what they did in Babylon, in the middle of that crooked and perverse generation, that Nebuchadnezzar realized that God was God. And, listen to what he said, in Daniel chapter 3, verses 28 and 29: “Then Nebuchadnezzar spake, and said, Blessed be the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, who hath sent his angel, and delivered his servants that trusted in him, and have changed the king's word, and yielded their bodies, that they might not serve nor worship any god, except their own God.” Now, listen to what this pagan king said: “Therefore I make a decree, That every people, nation, and language, which speak any thing amiss against the God of Shadrach, Meshach, and Abednego, shall be cut in pieces, and their houses shall be made a dunghill: because there is no other God that can deliver after this sort” (Daniel 3:28–29).
That’s a pagan king speaking. How would that king have ever known the power of God had it not been for a Daniel, who took his secular job and used his secular job as a lampstand, to let his light shine in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation?
Ladies and gentlemen, Jesus has called us to go into all the world (Mark 16:15). And, there’s the world of finance, and there’s the world of business, and there’s the world of sports. In all of these worlds, we are to go in and let our lights shine for the Lord Jesus Christ. Let me give you another verse—1 Peter chapter 2, verses 11 and 12: “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul;”—that is, we’re to live clean, right, pure. But notice in verse 12, “having your conversation honest among the Gentiles…”—now, who are the Gentiles? That means the unsaved. That means the humanists, the sophisticates— “having your conversation honest among the Gentiles: that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation” (1 Peter 2:11–12).
When they see you, you are to let your light shine. If people would begin to take what I’m preaching today, if they would see that what they do is service to the Lord Jesus, I don’t care what it is, and if they would see that God has placed them there in Babylon—that is, the sphere of their witness—and if they would begin to let their light shine, people would believe what I preach on Sunday, when people start living like that on Monday.
A. Four Rules for Witnessing at Work
Let me give you four rules for witnessing to those with whom you work. You say, “Okay, Preacher—Monday morning, look out, here I come!” All right now, let me give you four rules.
1. Don’t’ Brag!
Number one: don’t brag! Don’t brag! The Bible says, let your light shine (Matthew 5:16). Don’t make it shine. It’s to glow, not glare. They’re to see the light, not the candle. What I mean is, if you go in there with a super load of self-righteousness, bragging about yourself, and bragging about your church, and bragging about your righteousness, and bragging about your doctrines, you’re going to make them want to vomit. They’re going to be sick of it. There’s nothing worse than self-righteousness. Don’t brag.
2. Don’t Nag!
Second thing: don’t nag! If you’re always thumping a Bible, handing out a tract, always getting on to somebody when he gambles, or somebody when he smokes, or somebody when he curses, or somebody when he passes out a raw cartoon; if you’re nagging those people, you may think that you’re doing a good job. But, I want to tell you, mister, you’re not going to win them to Jesus Christ. You’re not going to win an unsaved man that way. That is not his problem. You’d be just like that man, if you didn’t know the Lord Jesus Christ. His sin is not his problem. He needs Jesus Christ, and those are the only things he gets his kicks out of, he gets his bangs out of. He doesn’t have the joy that you have. And, you’re not going to nag him to the Lord Jesus Christ.
As a matter of fact, listen to Colossians 4, verses 5 and 6: “Walk in wisdom toward them that are without…”—oh, if we could only teach our people this!—“Walk in wisdom toward them that are without, redeeming the time. Let your speech be always with grace, seasoned with salt, that ye may know how ye ought to answer every man” (Colossians 4:5–6). Oh, if you could only say, “God, salt my speech! Lord, season my speech with grace! I don’t want to nag these people!”
3. Don’t Lag!
Don’t brag! Don’t nag! And, thirdly, don’t lag! Do your part of the job. If you’re a lazy Christian, if you’re not getting there on time, if you’re not doing your work that you ought to do, you’re a disgrace to grace. It’s a sin for a Christian to do less than his best. Listen again to Ephesians chapter 6, verses 5 and 6: “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers;”—that is, don’t see if the boss is looking before you work hard—“but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart” (Ephesians 6:5–6). You are to work at that job, I don’t care how dull, how boring, it may seem. It’s not dull; it’s not boring, if you’re doing it for Jesus. And, don’t you lag. Don’t be a laggard.
The Bible says, in Colossians chapter 3, verse 23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Boy, that’ll put a dignity in it! Whatever it is—you’re running a machine; you’re greasing automobiles; you’re typing letters; you’re carrying mail; you’re painting houses; you’re digging ditches; you’re cutting yards—“Jesus, I’m doing it for you. And, I’ll do it with my might.” Boy, I’ll tell you, that’ll put a spring in your step. That’ll put a zest in it. And, you’ll say, “I’m as much serving God this morning, as Adrian Rogers was when he was standing in that pulpit. I’m serving God as much as Jim Whitmire was when he was leading that choir. I am serving God as much as any missionary on the face of this earth. And, whatever my hand finds to do, I will do it with my might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
4. Don’t Sag!
Don’t brag! Don’t nag! Don’t lag! And, don’t sag! Don’t let down! Don’t let down! Don’t lapse back into the ways of this world. Don’t begin to complain. Don’t get unhappy. Stay happy! Stay full of joy! The only way to stay full of joy is to stay full of Jesus. And, that means you’re going to have to have a quiet time before you ever go to work, and get loaded up with the grace of God, and bathe yourself in the presence of Jesus.
When everybody else is griping, and complaining, and bellyaching, and morose, you can be there with the light of the Lord God upon your face. I want to tell you something about those people that you work with. Most of them are not all that interested in going to Heaven or Hell, they want to know how to hack it on Monday. And, when they see you come in the office without a hangover, and with the joy of the Lord Jesus on your face, they’re going to say, after a while, “Hey, buddy, what makes you function?”
You know what the Bible says, in 1 Peter chapter 3, verse 15? “But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts: and be ready always to give an answer to every man that asketh you a reason of the hope that is in you” (1 Peter 3:15) You’re not going to have to take him by the buttonholes, and say, “Buddy, are you ready to meet God?” He’s going to come to you, and he’s going to say, “Hey, what makes you tick? What is the secret of the life that you live? Where are you getting that joy?” Because, the joy of Jesus is real, you’ve sanctified the Lord God in your heart, you’re going to be able to share the Lord Jesus with him.
Friend, that’s the sphere of everyday work. Right there in Babylon—God put Daniel in Babylon. He didn’t have any special call from God. It was circumstances that put him there, but God was overruling. And, that became his temple of devotion. And, that became his platform for witness. Daniel touched a whole nation for God, just by being God’s man where God placed him.
III. The Service of Everyday Work
Now, the third thing I want to say, and I’ll be finished. I’ve talked to you about the sacredness of everyday work. I’ve talked to you about the sphere of everyday work in Babylon. Now, let me talk to you about the service of everyday work. You say, “Well, brother Rogers, I can see that the job that I do is a platform. I can witness for the Lord Jesus. Somehow it gets meaning.” But, you might feel, “I’m not even around anybody where I witness. I spend all day plowing. I spend all day painting houses. I spend all day scraping something down. I work in a kitchen. There’s no way, really, that I can witness where I am. Is it meaningful still?” Absolutely. Absolutely.
Let me give you some Scripture here. Again, Proverbs chapter 14, verse 23: “In all labour there is profit.” Does it have eternal significance? You know what Daniel’s job was? A secular job, an ordinary job—he was a government bureaucrat, according to Daniel chapter 8, verse 27. I’m sure that Daniel, as he was handling taxation, as he was handling administration, as he was handling public relations, as he was handling law enforcement, as he was handling building projects and meetings and diplomacy, he said, “What does this have to do with serving God?” But yet, he served God continually.
Let me ask you a question: Who was the first farmer? Think about it. Many of you will say, “Adam was the first farmer.” But you’re wrong. Let me tell you who the first farmer was. You can find it out, if you want to turn to Genesis chapter 2, verse 8. “The LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden”—“the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden”—the first farmer was God. Now, that tells me that farming is an honorable occupation, if God was a farmer. God planted the first garden, and then He turned it over to Adam. In Genesis chapter 2, verse 15, “And the LORD God planted a garden eastward in Eden; and there he put the man whom he had formed” (Genesis 2:15).
Don’t get the idea that work is the punishment for sin. Listen. God gave Adam work to do before he ever sinned—He made him caretaker of this world. Why a garden? Because people have to eat. The home of Jesus was the cottage of a working man, and Jesus, whether He was mending plows or mending souls, was doing the work of God— because people also have to have houses to live in, and furniture to sit on, and food to eat, and clothes to wear, and the ability to communicate. And, when we’re doing those things, friend, we are participating with God, and cooperating with God, as much as Adam was when He was taking care of the Garden of Eden, a garden that God has planted.
This is my Father’s world. Don’t get the idea that the material world is wrong, or out of whack with God. God made these things, friend, and God knows they have to operate—we could not have humanity; we could not have life. Listen. All of these things are as to the Lord. Listen again to Ephesians chapter 6, verses 7 and 8: “With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men:”—he was talking to people in secular jobs, and he was saying that, when you’re doing that secular job, it’s service to the Lord—“knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (Ephesians 6:7–8).
Now, that means, if you are a slave, you have absolutely no choice. Somebody is making you do it. Still, do it with a smile on your face and a song in your heart. And, Jesus will reward you. Isn’t that beautiful? Boy, I tell you that puts dignity in your job. I don’t care what it is. When you go to work tomorrow, I want you to go to work tomorrow with a song in your heart, and a smile on your face, and a spring in your step. And, if you’re putting those caps on tubes of toothpaste, say, “This one is for you, Jesus. Hallelujah! Praise God! Another one for God! There they go!” Nobody else knows about it; God knows about it. You know about it. Isn’t that wonderful?
You see, dear friend, everyday is a holy day, and every place is a sacred place. Again, Colossians 3, verse 23: “And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23). And, don’t you get so heavenly minded you’re no earthly good. God has you right here to do a job.
One last verse and I’ll be finished. You know, there were some people who, when they were taken out of Israel and when they were put in Babylon, just sat down. They said, “This is a decadent society. It’s an ungodly world. I’m not going to work in it. I’m not going to do anything. I’m not going to participate in that old world.” Now, I want you to see what Jeremiah told them in Jeremiah 29 verses 4 and following: “Thus saith the LORD of hosts, the God of Israel, unto all that are carried away captives, whom I have caused to be carried away from Jerusalem unto Babylon;”—that is, God said, “I put you there”—“Build ye houses, and dwell in them; and plant gardens, and eat the fruit of them; take ye wives, and beget sons and daughters; and take wives for your sons, and give your daughters to husbands, that they may bear sons and daughters; that ye may be increased there,”—that is, in Babylon—“and not diminished.” That is, God wants His people to prosper. God wants His people to be good businesspeople. Listen—verse 7: “And seek the peace of the city whither I have caused you to be carried away captives” (Jeremiah 29:4–7).
Now, listen. We look for “a city which hath foundations, whose builder and maker is God” (Hebrews 11:10), but while we’re here, we’re to seek the good of Memphis. Did you know that? Seek the good of the city. I’ve caused you to be carried away captive, “and pray the Lord for it, and in its peace, you will have peace” (Jeremiah 29:7). We’re to do good to Memphis while we’re here. It is to be a better place because the people of Bellevue Baptist Church are here working in the streets, and lanes, and farms, and offices. We are to live here. This is where God has put us. Every day is a sacred day.
Every day is a holy day. You are a priest of God, a minister of God, and in full-time Christian service. And, brother, if that didn’t ring your bell, your clapper’s broken. That’ll excite you. Man, that’ll make a difference, when you go out tomorrow. “In all labour there is profit.”
Let’s bow in prayer. Father, I thank you for your Word, Lord, for the truth of it. Lord, I just pray that You’ll help people who’ve been discouraged and bored with their jobs, frustrated, who’ve felt forgotten and insignificant, Lord God, that no matter what they do tomorrow, whether it be surgery or ditch-digging, whether it be preaching or fixing an automobile, God, that they’ll do it as unto You, in the power that You give. And Lord, that that job will be the temple of their devotion, and the lampstand of their witness. God, just make it true, and give our people, Lord, that kind of a lifestyle. In Jesus’ name. Amen.