Summary: It is not enough that Christians work in the vineyard of the Lord but also what motivates us to do that work.
WHAT IS THE MOTIVE FOR YOUR SERVICE?
“For God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister.”
Labor, or work, is ordained by God. Before sin entered into the world, God commanded man to labor. “The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.” Genesis 2:15 (NIV). Jesus said, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work.” John 9:4 NKJV
It is not enough that Christians work in the vineyard of the Lord but also what motivates us to do that work. Let’s look into three different types of motivation that the Bible tells us about.
I. THE PHARISEES WORKED TO BE SEEN OF MEN
Jesus said of the Pharisees: "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.” Matthew 23:5. (A phylactery was one of two small square leather boxes containing scriptural passages and worn on the left arm and forehead).
The Pharisees were motivated to do religious work so that they might be seen by men. In the Sermon on the Mount Jesus warned His hearers about doing good works in order to obtain the praise of men. "Be careful not to do your ’acts of righteousness’ before men, to be seen by them. If you do, you will have no reward from your Father in heaven.” Matthew 6:1 NIV
II. NEHEMIAH WORKED FOR THE GLORY OF GOD
While serving as the cupbearer for King Artaxerxes, Nehemiah learned of the desolation in Jerusalem, particularly as it concerned the condition of the walls and gates of the city. Nehemiah felt the need of rebuilding the walls and was anxious to lead the effort. He prayed that God might ‘make tender” the heart of the king at the time he would present the request for the king’s consideration.
Nehemiah normally manifested a happy disposition but on one particular day he performed his duties as cupbearer with a saddened face. King Artaxerxes asked him why he was so sad. He told the king that his sorrow was caused by the devastation of the walls and the burned gates of Jerusalem.
Nehemiah requested that the king authorize him to go to Jerusalem and rebuild its walls and repair its gates. The king granted the request; gave Nehemiah letters to give to the governors of the regions through which he would travel assuring his safety. The king also provided captains of his army and horsemen to accompany him. The use of the term “captains of his army” indicates companies of soldiers were in the entourage.
Rebuilding the wall was hard work which was made even more difficult by the hatred and evil opposition of enemies of Jerusalem. The threat was so great that the workers on the wall had to work with a weapon in one hand and their work tools in the other. (Nehemiah 4:17).
“So we rebuilt the wall till all of it reached half its height, for the people worked with all their heart.” Nehemiah 4:6 NIV. “So on October 2 (444 B.C.) the wall was finally finished—just fifty-two days after we had begun. When our enemies and the surrounding nations heard about it, they were frightened and humiliated. They realized that this work had been done with the help of our God.” Nehemiah 6:16 NLT
As we work faithfully in the service of our Lord let us keep in mind what Paul wrote to the saints in Corinth: “For we are fellow workmen (laborers together) with and for God; you are God’s garden and vineyard and field under cultivation, [you are] God’s building.” 1 Corinthians 3:9 AMP
III. JESUS WORKED TO FULFILL THE WILL OF THE FATHER
1. Prior to the beginning of His earthly ministry, He sat an example of the dignity of labor. After He had taught in the synagogue of Nazareth and healed the sick that were brought to Him, the leaders of the town were astonished at His words and works, asking: "Is not this the carpenter, the son of Mary?” Mark 6:3.
The work of a carpenter in that day was hard. All work had to be done by hand. The wording in Mark 6:3 indicates that Jesus worked to provide for the needs of the family. If Joseph was living at that time, Jesus would have been referred to “the carpenter, the son of Joseph”.
2. Working to fulfill His mission on earth: "I have glorified You on the earth. I have finished the work which You have given Me to do.” (John 17:4). Jesus prayed to the Father as though He had already died for the sins of mankind when He said “I have finished the work You have given Me to do.” The greatest work ever accomplished in the history of the world occurred on the cross of Calvary when our Savior “put away sin by the sacrifice of Himself.” (Hebrews 9:26)