The Christian, a hard worker?   Leave a comment

Work hard

Work hard

I was reading the book of Thessalonians and I came across a verse which caught my attention in a particular way. I felt this need to share it, so I wrote this post about it. I’m not writing all this because I work hard but because I’m convinced that I don’t work enough.

Those who believe in the gospel and say they are Christians should live according to the gospel. This we know. Paul said to the Thessalonians to follow the example he gave by working hard. Probably the Thessalonians thought Jesus was coming soon and they had a ‘spiritual reason’ to stop toiling. Being a Christian does not discharge us of our responsibility to serve the society. Idleness is what gave David time to look at his neighbor’s wife and sin. When you’re not busy toiling for earthly matters and God, the devil will use this idle time to tempt and make you sin. Each new day God gives you is to live for His glory and not to waste it.

Do not say you’re waiting for the perfect time to start serving God and working. This is a waste of time because there’re always work to do.

Ecclesiastes 11 says: “Farmers who wait for perfect weather never plant. If they watch every cloud, they never harvest.”

Use most of the time God gives you to do something constructive.

Still in Ecclesiastes 11 we read : “Plant your seed in the morning and keep busy all afternoon, for you don’t know if profit will come from one activity or another—or maybe both.”

The lazy person will always find a reason for not working. Proverbs 22 says:

The lazy person claims, “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I might be killed!

I guess in a moment of famine, a hard worker would reason differently: “There’s a lion out there! If I go outside, I get it killed and have food for a week for my family!

Even if it is not difficult to get a job, a lazy person will find it difficult.

This is what we read in Proverbs 26:

A sluggard buries his hand in the dish; he is too lazy to bring it back to his mouth.”

I have met people who cannot sleep well at night because they eat the whole day and don’t spend this energy they swallowed.

But we read “People who work hard sleep well, whether they eat little or much. But the rich seldom get a good night’s sleep.” Ecc 5:11

I guess we can all identify with that. When we are tired after having worked hard the whole day, our body look for rest.

Let’s not forget also that it is a grace to enjoy the work of our hands. God Himself admired the work of His hands when he created the world.

So I concluded there is nothing better than to be happy and enjoy ourselves as long as we can. And people should eat and drink and enjoy the fruits of their labor, for these are gifts from God.” Ecc 3:12

There’s a conception amongst Christians that enjoying life is evil. What is evil to enjoy life in a sinful way. It is not bad to enjoy life by doing sports, eating something expensive and spending money to visit beautiful places. But what we should be careful about is not to fall in gluttony, avarice, cupidity, luxury and materialism. Christians should be generous and not be like the rich man and neglect the Lazaruses around them.

Paul said it plainly: “And now, dear brothers and sisters, we give you this command in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ: Stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us.”

Paul was a tent maker and toiled hard to sustain himself. Not only that, he worked very hard to spread the gospel. While going on missions, he was without food, clothes and shelter. But he said that he was contented whether he had or not.
The church of Philippi was the only church who supported Paul in his ministry. Even if they did not provide supports, Paul would have continued to toil hard.

Paul said: “Not that I was ever in need, for I have learned how to be content with whatever I have. I know how to live on almost nothing or with everything. I have learned the secret of living in every situation, whether it is with a full stomach or empty, with plenty or little. For I can do everything through Christ,who gives me strength. Even so, you have done well to share with me in my present difficulty.As you know, you Philippians were the only ones who gave me financial help when I first brought you the Good News and then traveled on from Macedonia. No other church did this.” Phil 4:11

Not only should we work to earn our bread but also to support those ministers working hard as us to spread the gospel. God commanded Adam and Eve to work the earth. It is part of man’s lot to work. Some of Jesus’ followers were fisherman, tax collectors and doctor. Those who have the physical ability to work and do not do so are not honoring God but living a disorderly life.

It was so serious that Paul even said to the Thessalonians : “to stay away from all believers who live idle lives and don’t follow the tradition they received from us”

Christians should be beyond reproach regarding work. Even if our boss is not kind, let us do our work well.

At Paul’s time there were still slavery but the apostle still said to the Ephesians:

Slaves, obey your earthly masters with deep respect and fear. Serve them sincerely as you would serve Christ.Try to please them all the time, not just when they are watching you. As slaves of Christ, do the will of God with all your heart. Work with enthusiasm, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people. Remember that the Lord will reward each one of us for the good we do, whether we are slaves or free. Masters, treat your slaves in the same way. Don’t threaten them; remember, you both have the same Master in heaven, and he has no favorites.”

Paul also gave the same household recommendations to the Colossian church (Col 3:22).

In the book of Titus we read :

Slaves must always obey their masters and do their best to please them. They must not talk back or steal, but must show themselves to be entirely trustworthy and good. Then they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive in every way.”

Christians should be honest workers, not steal and rebel. They must be trustworthy and blameless in what they do. Paul says that this upholds the beauty of the teachings/doctrines of Christ.

So far we have been reading the instructions Paul gave to Christians who were slaves. We are not slaves and we have laws to protect us when we have been subjected to an unfair treatment. If someone insults us we can report to the Ministry of Labour. If we have been fired unfairly or there has been a breach of contract, we seek for counsels with a lawyer. If you have been beaten, you can report to the police.

But at Paul’s time, many Christians were slaves and they were beaten. No police, no Ministry of Labour, no lawyer, no agreement and no HR.

Peter even said:

You who are slaves must accept the authority of your masters with all respect.Do what they tell you—not only if they are kind and reasonable, but even if they are cruel. For God is pleased with you when you do what you know is right and patiently endure unfair treatment.” 1 Pet 2:18

Most of us have not even experienced the bad treatment a slave experienced. I guess that there should be at least some reasons for us to be grateful to God for giving us a job.

For you know that you ought to imitate us. We were not idle when we were with you. We never accepted food from anyone without paying for it. We worked hard day and night so we would not be a burden to any of you

Paul wanted to be free of being a burden to anyone. It was an honor for him to preach the gospel freely. Serving God was to be at his own expense. How many pastors today request millions for them to preach the gospel? Some palaces, luxury cars and even jets and still they dare to ask for donations! Benny Hinn is one example among a few who made the gospel a lucrative business. Shame on them! Christ did not ask a penny to shed a drop of blood for us. He freely gave His life.

I bowed to my knees when I read “Against all Odds”  by  Jim Stier, YWAM missionary to Brazil. This man endured much to bring the gospel there with just a few dollars in the pocket when he started. God always provided for his needs as He did for the apostles. This man saw miracles through his life. Some Christians willingly give even if they do not have much when they see missionaries working hard. They feel honored to be able to be partners in spreading the gospel. The hard earned money used for the Great Commission is an eternal investment for the Kingdom of Christ. A sacrifice acceptable to God.

Unfortunately, today we do not see many donors or serious missionaries.

Paul said:

We certainly had the right to ask you to feed us, but we wanted to give you an example to follow. Even while we were with you, we gave you this command: “Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.”

It’s true, Jesus gave the right to the disciples to eat and drink whatever were offered to them during their mission. Those who work deserve to be paid.

When Jesus sent His disciples, He said: “Now go, and remember that I am sending you out as lambs among wolves. Don’t take any money with you, nor a traveler’s bag, nor an extra pair of sandals. And don’t stop to greet anyone on the road…Don’t move around from home to home. Stay in one place, eating and drinking what they provide. Don’t hesitate to accept hospitality, because those who work deserve their pay.”

But Paul did not even want to use the privilege he had lest someone think he was doing it for money and food. He did not fear what people thought of him. Paul just wanted to give an example. No one could ever point a finger to him. Beaten, without food, without clothes and without shelter, he continued to preach without getting anything in return.

At least we work to get some money, Paul worked and got nothing in return in this world. His treasure was souls and rewards in heaven. The world would not have been able to pay him for all what he did anyway.

It is therefore not astonishing that Paul the tent maker said: Those unwilling to work will not get to eat.

If you can work and don’t want to, then why do you want to eat on the sweat of others?

You know what happens when people are idle? There’re gossips, all kind of useless discussions and sins.

Paul heard that: “ some of you are living idle lives, refusing to work and meddling in other people’s business.”

Paul commands them to : “We command such people and urge them in the name of the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and work to earn their own living. As for the rest of you, dear brothers and sisters, never get tired of doing good.”

No one should be exempted of this responsibility. We need to work to feed ourselves. For widows, orphans, children and handicapped,  let it be so that Christians take good care of them. But it is unacceptable that one who is physically fit for duty remains idle. There are no foolish job. Every job done honestly honors God.

Paul ends his remark by saying:

Take note of those who refuse to obey what we say in this letter. Stay away from them so they will be ashamed.Don’t think of them as enemies, but warn them as you would a brother or sister.

There’re reasons to be ashamed of being dependent on the toils of others if you have the ability to sustain yourself. Laziness is a sin.

Jesus said to the lazy servant who did not work hard as the other 2:

But the master replied, ‘You wicked and lazy servant! If you knew I harvested crops I didn’t plant and gathered crops I didn’t cultivate, why didn’t you deposit my money in the bank? At least I could have gotten some interest on it.’ Mat 25

Idleness is a wide open road to sin. Let us always put the kingdom of God first by toiling hard for it. Let us also never forget our responsibility as Christians to be hard workers for this is good and honors the teachings of our Lord Jesus.

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Posted September 20, 2012 by Cedric in Thought-provoking

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