Summary: work is a four letter word but is it a vertue?
Work is a four letter word!
In the Caribbean islands, as in most tropical lands, people move more slowly. They don’t get in a hurry as we who live in the temperate climate sometimes do. A missionary in Jamaica was noted for her high level of energy. A man in the church spoke of it to a visiting American. He said, “Mrs. Herget acts as if work were a virtue.” It is!
I. The Bible Teaches Us About Work.
A. It is taught in the Old Testament.
1. There are more than twelve verses in the book of Proverbs alone that teach that work is a virtue.
2. When we read the fourth commandment in Exodus 20 we miss part of it. Not only does the text say “Remember the Sabbath day.” It also says, “Six days you shall labor.”
3. The writer of Ecclesiastes says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
B. It is taught in the New Testament.
1. Jesus said He came to serve, not to be served.
2. He said, “The workers are few.”
3. In a famous parable He told of an employer asking the important question: “Why have you been standing here all day long doing nothing?” (Matthew 20:6).
4. The apostle Paul said that he himself worked hard
(1 Corinthians 4:12). 12We work hard with our own hands. When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; 13when we are slandered, we answer kindly. Up to this moment we have become the scum of the earth, the refuse of the world.
5. He said we should work hard
(Colossians 3:23&24). 23Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, 24since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving
6. He taught others to work
(1 Thessalonians 4:11&12). 11Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, 12so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
7. He said we should respect those who work
(1 Thessalonians 5:12-14). 12Now we ask you, brothers, to respect those who work hard among you, who are over you in the Lord and who admonish you. 13Hold them in the highest regard in love because of their work. Live in peace with each other. 14And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle, encourage the timid, help the weak, be patient with everyone.
8. He said those who would not work should not eat
(2 Thessalonians 3:7-10). 7For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”
II. The Bible Gives Us Examples of Workers.
A.The apostle Paul gave himself as an example for the leaders at Ephesus (Acts 20:34, 35). 34You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”
B. Jesus gave us an example in work.
1. He worked in the carpenter shop at Nazareth.
2. He worked as a teacher and healer. No one ever crowded more activity into three and one-half years than Jesus did during his ministry.
3. He said, “I work.”
C. God himself is an example of work.
1. Jesus said, “My Father works, and I work.”
2. God is introduced to us as a worker. How does Genesis begin? Not with some statement about the nature of God but with His work. “In the beginning God created!”
3. When He chose people to serve, God chose busy people.
a. Gideon was threshing wheat.
b. Moses was tending sheep.
b. Saul was working on his father’s farm.
c. David was tending sheep.
d. Amos was gathering fruit.
e. Peter, Andrew, James and John were fishing.
f. Matthew was collecting taxes.
g. The only exception is Nathaniel who was sitting under a shade tree, and I like to think that he had been working and had just stopped to rest.