Values — HARD WORK — Working What is Good
“He becomes poor who works with a slack and idle hand, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” Proverbs 10:4 AMP
“The appetite of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, but the appetite of the diligent is abundantly supplied.” Proverbs 13:4 AMP
“Do you see a man who excels in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before unknown men.” Proverbs 22:29 NKJV
The idea of working to earn a living and finding purpose and fulfillment in righteous labor is still stamped on the core of who we are as Christians. It once was one of the hallmarks of the American spirit of rugged individualism where it was a matter of personal pride to not be dependent on someone else when you were perfectly capable of doing it yourself.
Not everyone embraced the notion even from the earliest times in the history of this country. There have always been those who avoid work as much as they think they can get away with or all together.
Between my freshman and sophomore years at college I worked during the summer at an automotive plant outside of Detroit. Though I was only there for the summer I had been brought up to always do my best at any job and even go beyond what was expected of me. In fact, my dad drove the principle home even more when he would have my brother and me wash the cars of any of his auto repair clients who brought their cars in for service. Whatever the repairs were to be done on the car, the car wash was just added in as a perk to the customer. His business principle was “under promise and over deliver.”
Well, that summer while working on the assembly line at the automotive plant my job was to apply a sealant to the dashboard and then guide the body of the car over to the final line where it would be joined up to the chassis. My supply of sealant was brought to me by another man. If I ran out of sealant I would have to push a button and shut down the entire line until I could get more. Usually that would not happen because I always made sure I had enough for my shift before I began. One day when I went to get my supply there was not enough there so I was really depending on the supplier to bring more in time to keep the line moving. When I realized he wasn’t going to be there, I went to the main supply bin (which was only about 10 feet away) and got what I needed. When I got back, one of the other guys who worked near me gave a hard time for going to get my own supplies. His stern rebuke was, “You lettin’ too many cars go through and makin’ the rest of us look bad. You gotta slow down. That’s not your job to get your own supplies. If they don’t bring it just shut the line down until they do and let the foreman take care of it.”
I was thrown off guard for a moment by what he said. Then I realized he was more interested in finding a reason not to work than he was in doing his job well — whatever it took. I had not encountered that attitude before and I didn’t know how to respond to it then. There is more to the story but that’s the gist of it. Of course I understand now that in union shops everyone has a particular job and you are forbidden to do something someone else is responsible for. His work attitude was, “That’s not my job.”
As Christians we are called to give an honest day’s work for an honest day’s pay. In the fact the Scriptures make it clear that slothfulness and laziness should not be rewarded.
“Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us. For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man’s bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an ensample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread. But ye, brethren, be not weary in well doing. And if any man obey not our word by this epistle, note that man, and have no company with him, that he may be ashamed.” 2 Thessalonians 3:6
But the idea of avoiding work is not limited to the masses it is often also found among the privileged, particularly those who did not work to get to their lofty positions. When Nehemiah was directing the rebuilding of the Wall around Jerusalem everyone pitched in and did their part and some even more than their part, but there were some who were not willing to work.
“And next unto them the Tekoites repaired; but their nobles put not their necks to the work of their Lord.” Nehemiah 3:5
Still there were those who not only repaired the Wall in front of their houses they also repaired other places along the Wall. [Neh. 3:19; 21; 24; 30;] The Tekoites were among those who did more than just their house.
“After them the Tekoites repaired another piece, over against the great tower that lieth out, even unto the wall of Ophel.” Nehemiah 3:27
It is good and right for a man to work, because his identity as a person is tied to his ability to produce and create with his own hands. God stamped that on our DNA. To suppress or be robbed of that opportunity leaves him, without purpose or meaning for his life. (maybe slightly overly simplified, but essentially correct)
“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.” Ephesians 4:28
The fundamental principle is true for men and women, indeed for everyone including children. When we work and receive earnings for our labors we are then positioned to be able to give something to others. In doing so, we are then able to receive even more, and to increase our giving and receiving.
Jesus is our ultimate example of doing hard work and doing it to completion.
“Jesus saith unto them, My meat is to do the will of him that sent me, and to finish his work.” John 4:34
Work well done is its own reward and yet there is a greater more lasting reward to come when we stand before the Father to hear Him say,
“His lord said unto him, Well done, thou good and faithful servant: thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things: enter thou into the joy of thy lord.” Matthew 25:21