Rethinking Our Attitude About Work
The Bible says, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. Anyone who does wrong will be repaid for his wrong, and there is no favoritism. – Masters, provide your slaves with what is right and fair, because you know that you also have a Master in heaven.” (Colossians 3:23 – 4:1)
This passage of Scripture is found in Colossians 3:21 placed under a preoccupy, a title if you will, “Living as Those Made Alive in Christ.” The Apostle is teaching a truth to slaves and slave masters – that is just as real for us who are free, people who work for others and/or your an employer with people working for you.
I would propose to you, that living out the truths in this message, will make you and I a witness for the Lord that surpasses the average wage earner, that causes people to take note of the life we live in obedience to the written Word of God. The heart of the average employee is more influenced by a world view rather than having the mind of Christ, as the Bible tells you and me to have. (1 Corinthians 2:10-16)
Just what is God’s attitude towards work? What is to be our motivation? What is our Biblical exhortation?
God’s View Of Work
The Bible has specific teachings about work. Part of one of the ten commandments says, “Six days you shall labor and do your work.” (Exodus 20:9) This command comes from God who sets the example before us as being a worker. The Bible says, “In the beginning God created the heavens and the earth.” (Genesis 1:1) By the end of the sixth day He made the sun and moon, all the living creatures, everything on this earth for Him and us to enjoy. “And God saw that is was all good.” (Genesis 1:25)
I know that there is nothing Pennie (my wife) and I would love to do more than take a long vacation, take a long bike ride – touring and seeing all the great creation our God has made. If every person were a specialist in landscaping, they could not get done what God has created, especially in six days. Even the best doctors and vets cannot create human beings or animals. No matter how smart and gifted they are, they cannot sustain life for eternity. When all is said that can be said, all is done that will be done, this earth as we know it will be burned up. But God will create a new heaven and a new earth. (Isaiah 65:17; Revelation 21:1)
Have you heard the joke of a world renowned scientist meeting the Lord. In their discussion the scientist said, “We have become so efficient in our work we can even create a human being, just as good as you did, when you first created man. Mankind does not even need you any more, they got us.” God said, “You go and create your human being out of what is yours, and I will continue to created mankind out of what I created.”
The scientist walked off, as he left he reached down and picked up a handful of dirt, on which the God said, “Hey, Hey, you get your won dirt.”
The Book of Psalms says, “The heavens declare the glory of God; the skies proclaim the work of His hands.” (Psalm 19:1) Jesus said, “My Father is always at His work to this very day…” (John 5:17) Dr. Charles Mayo of the famous Mayo Clinic once said, “There is no fun like work.” The writer of the Book of Ecclesiastes wrote, “…there is nothing better for a man than to enjoy his work, because that is his lot…” (Ecclesiastes 3:22)
The key steps to doing our Labor As Unto Christ is to have a thankful enjoyment of God’s gifts, seeing your job as a discharge from God, knowing God is going to bring all things under His judgment, (Ecclesiastes 11:9) and not seeing your job as simply and money seeking opportunity. (Ecclesiastes 5:10-17) The book of Exodus reminds us that is the Lord who gives different abilities to achieve things and perform certain tasks. (Exodus 31:3) The writer of the Book of Thessalonians tells us, “if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” (2 Thessalonians 3:10)
Once you get a Biblical perspective about work, then you should make sure your motivation is in good order. Proverbs 10: 4-5 has this truth, “Lazy hands make a man poor, but diligent hands brings wealth. He who gather crops in summer is a wise son, but he who sleeps during harvest is a disgraceful son.” 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 says, ” Make it your ambition… to work… so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.
A lesson from the horse business:
I knew of a Christian couple from Atwood, Ks who loved horses, they had good horses. When they took their horses to class “A” Arabian horse shows, they would get the gate and not collect the title or benefits they should had received. The problem was, when it was time for a horse show, they would just pull horses out of the corral, clean them up, and lead them into the arena. This mindset caused them to live with the disappointment of defeat often.
After many years, they developed a listening spirit – the Lord raised up a horse trainer who explained to them how to condition and train their horses. They applied the hard work of conditioning, training, and promotion. Taking the same horses to the same horse shows, they received the first and second place finishes their horses deserved – they were even offered $15,000.00 for one for their western pleasure horses.
This Christian couple learns to plant the seeds of hard work in the proper season, they got themselves prepared to be in the harvest field of success and they no longer brought disgrace to their breeding program.
Another lesson from the horse business:
There was a young married couple from Colorado who trained horses together. They worked hard, they helped each other out, so they can both excel in their fields. They were known for their honesty and their desire to see their clients do well. The trainers who had a large training barns with several grooms and trainers to help them serve many clients, had full respect for this young couple. They rejoiced when they seen this young couple do well at the horse shows. This couple was not dependent upon anyone to help them pay the bills and get ready for the horse shows, they had the respect of everyone.
People respect a church that works hard for the Lord, all are amazed with what the Lord does through them.
Let the Holy Spirit prepare your heart with these questions. How are you seen by the general public as they see you work in the job God has placed you in? Are you seen as diligent, trustworthy, faithful and productive?
Must Do Your Best
Once you have a Biblical motivation for doing your work, you must do your best at what God has you doing. We need to purposely re look at Colossians 3:23. The writer of the Book of Colossians writes, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Notice the text says, “Whatever, you do.” Your farming, your job, the things you enjoy, your marriage, raising your kids, work for the church, the care of your pets, time with family, friendships, how you speak to others – whatever, you do!
Notice it says how: “Work at it with all your heart.” Ephesians 6:7 says, “Serve whole heartedly, as if you were serving the Lord, not people, because you know that the Lord will reward each one for whatever good [you] do, whether slave or free.” Anyone can say they will do such and such, or this or that, the problem is the work does not get completed with a right heart, usually not completed on time. However, when the work is being approached from the right heart, the task will be completed with all their strength, with steadfastness, and certainty. Their will be no short cuts, wrong motives, empty excuses. Rather the boss is present and watching or far away, the whole hearted servant strives for perfection.
My wife (first wife Bonnie, died from brain cancer) and I developed a grooming and conditioning program for horses. It involved the hard work of brushing and rubbing, with little time spent on bathing the horse after their workouts.
First: After a workout – a horse should be walked until the animal’s respiration, his breathing is back down to normal. A whole hearted groom takes notice of the horse’s nostrils and breathing, a half hearted groom will walk the horse for only five minutes or so, then think “Awe he’s good.”
Second: If need be a whole hearted groom will stand the horse in front of a fan, to help cool the horse down. Then rinsing the animal off with lukewarm water, not cold, so the blood flow continues to build muscle. A half hearted groom will just grab any water hose and rinse the horse off, with no concern over the water temperature.
Third: Brushing and rubbing the horse. After the horse has dried off, the whole hearted groom brushes the horse with three styles of brushes, then the horse is hand rubbed down – after several months of this grooming practice, the horse has a natural shine, looking like the animal has had an expensive wax job. This grooming process enables the horse to build muscle so hard that the blood veins can be seen under the skin, like a body builder. A half hearted groom rinses the horse off with water, and then gets a spray bottle, adds a little baby oil to water, sprays the horse down with the solution, presenting a unnatural shine. The horses groomed correctly looks a 100% better than the horse that was half heartedly groomed.
Here is a truth worth grasping, no matter was is done, the right wholehearted approach is seen by all and gets the best results in the end.
Notice who we are to be doing our work for, “as working for the Lord, not for men.” The workman must do everything as if he was doing it for Christ. True pleasure comes when our work is not for the pay, for ambition, to satisfy oneself or earthly overseers. Our work is to be done for the glory of Christ. We must remember, that all our works will be tested by fire, everyone will see if our works will be burned up or done for the right reasons. (1 Corinthians 3:11-15) According to our text, employers need to remember, they will be giving an accounting to our Master – Christ, who is in heaven. Therefore, they are to provide in a way that is “right and fair.” The Christian doctrine of work is that employer and employee alike are working for the Lord, and the rewards are from God – as well as chastisements for doing our work wrong. (Barclay, W. (Ed.). (1975). The letters to the Philippians, Colossians, and Thessalonians (electronic ed., p. 165). Philadelphia: The Westminster John Knox Press.)
In Laboring Unto The Lord, Christians must remember, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward. It is the Lord Christ you are serving. 2 Corinthians 5:10 reminds us, “For we all must appear before the judgment seat of Christ, so that each of us may receive what is due us for the things we have done while in the body, whether good or bad.”
One businessman who understood the Biblical truths found in this message is David Green, founder of Hobby Lobby. By the worlds standard, he is a remarkable success. David is also a great success in the eyes of the Lord as well. David spends thousands each year for the glory of the Lord. He is not ashamed of the Gospel as seen in their stores adds at Christmas and Easter time. It is not uncommon to hear Christian music playing in those stores, the stores are closed on Sundays and he operates his business according to Biblical principals.
David was raised in a spiritually rich Christian home, his father was a pastor and the message displayed in his childhood home was, “only one life to live; twill soon be past. Only that what’s done for Christ will last.” As David progressed in his career as an adult, his mother would continually say, “That is nice David, but what are you doing for the Lord.” David struggled, then he learned that God is just not a Sunday Deity, He understands margins, spreadsheets, competition and profits.
David had a servant’s heart, putting others ahead of himself and the business he was raising up. In 2009 while the retail business world froze wages or even cut back on labor, David raised the wages to his employees. When David saw the Christmas and Easter adds from other businesses were taking away the real meaning of the seasons, David increased the amount of ads he was putting out, with a clear Christian meaning of Christmas and Easter. Hobby Lobby funds hospitals, supports local homeless shelters and continues to print literature about Christ for far away places, all around the world.
The fruit of David’s life and the business he runs is proof that he is one who does his Labor As Unto Christ. God has blessed David Green, his family and Hobby Lobby. The Lord will certainly fulfill His promise to all who will strive to do their work as unto Christ.