Jesus Christ has left a perfect example for us to follow. The apostle Paul wrote, “Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ” (I Corinthians 11:1). From the writer of the book of Hebrews we know there was no sin in Jesus’ life (Hebrews 4:15). In all things, in all areas of life, Jesus has left us a perfect example.
This perfect example includes an example in learning to work. Mark 6:3 – “Is this not the carpenter, the Son of Mary, the brother of James, and Josas, and of Judah, and Simon? And are not his sisters here with us? And they were offended at him.” Being a carpenter required that he spend time learning the trade, allowing someone else to teach him. Working as a carpenter was often physically demanding. As further evidence of Jesus’ willingness to work, consider Jesus’ words from John 4:34 – “My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.”
Consider three points concerning work. Why work? What should our attitude be toward our work? What are some of the consequences of failing to work?
WHY WORK? First, we are to work because God expects us to work. God has done for man what man cannot do for himself (Example: Because man cannot save himself, God sent his son to die as the only sacrifice that can provide man with the forgiveness of sins). But God does not do for man those things that man can do for himself (Example: Even though God has sent his son to die so that we might have salvation, there is still something that God expects man to do in order to be saved.) It is abundantly clear from the scriptures that God has always expected man to work. Genesis 2:15 – “And the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it.” The apostle Paul wrote, “And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you” (I Thessalonians 4:11).
Second, we ought to work to provide for ourselves and our own families. “But if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (I Timothy 5:8).
Third, we ought to work to provide for others. Ephesians 4:28 – “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
WHAT SHOULD OUR ATTITUDE BE TOWARD OUR WORK? First, we are to do our work wholeheartedly. We are to do the very best we can. Ecclesiastes 9:10 – “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might…..”
Second, we are not to be slothful, or lazy. Romans 12:11 – “Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord.” A man may set lofty goals for himself, but a lazy man will never reach those goals.
Third, we are to do our work, not to please men, but as if serving the Lord. Ephesians 6:5-6 – “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; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart;” A person who does his work with eyeservice is a person who is busy at work only when the boss is watching. As Christians, we ought to do our work as if God is constantly watching (because he is).
Consider the following quote from William Barclay’s commentary on Ephesians – “We will never make men good workmen by increasing pay, bettering conditions or heightened rewards. It is a Christian duty to see to these things, of course; but in themselves they will never produce good work. The only secret of good workmanship is that it is done for God.”
WHAT ARE SOME OF THE CONSEQUENCES OF FAILING TO WORK? First, a person who fails to work will always be limited in what he can accomplish. Proverbs 13:4 – “The soul of the sluggard desireth, and hath nothing: but the soul of the diligent shall be made fat.” Young people especially, if you want to accomplish something in life work for it! If you want good grades, an education, to be hired, to have a house of your own, etc., work for it!
Second, a person who refuses to work will have a difficult life. Proverbs 15:19 – “The way of the slothful man is as an hedge of thorns: but the way of the righteous is made plain. Some people think work is hard. And often time it is! But hard work can also be satisfying. The man who really has a hard life is the man who is unwilling to work.
Third, a person who is unwilling to work will bring shame to himself and to others around him. Proverbs 10:5 – “He that gathereth in summer is a wise son: but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” For example, a loafer will bring shame upon himself when he refuses to carry his weight on the job. A young person will bring shame upon his family when he refuses to work.
What do I learn from all this? God expects man to work; and to do so wholeheartedly. A man’s failure to work brings shame to himself and to others around him.