by Tim Howard
My parents did what many folks did back in the day, they instilled in me a healthy work ethic that still lingers in my life and affects the way I carry out my responsibilities. If you are like me, you may recall these words: “No you can’t go out and play until you clean your room! After you pick up your clothes you may have dessert but not until you do that! When you finish your chores you can go with your friends!
The commandments were intended to teach me the value and priority of work. Work first then play second! For quite some time, however, the message fell on deaf ears. It actually created a faulty view of work. I began to see it as a necessary evil, an undesirable obligation to carry out, and an obstacle to overcome before I could enjoy life. It was something to be avoided rather than embraced.
I fear that attitude may be more prevalent in our society than we care to admit. Maybe the “T.G.I.F.” slogan reveals a philosophical shift of our priorities from valuing work to making play a more desirable focus.
The Bible tells us that God worked 6 days and rested one. That pattern is presented as a healthy way to live and promises more fulfillment if implemented. We were created to work and not merely relax. We were created to be producers and not just consumers. We were created to give and not just take. Granted, there can be an imbalance, which is captured in that little proverb, which says: “All work and no play makes Jack a dull boy”
God gives us work to do because He wants us to live with a sense of purpose and worth. Everyone needs something to do, someone to love and something to hope for. When you seek pleasure more than purpose, you alter the way you were created to function and do yourself a disservice.
I re-read an interesting verse in Philippians 2:12-13 a few days ago that caught my attention because it instructs those who follow Jesus Christ to “work out” their salvation. The author instructs people to do more than get informed. He told them to get involved! Don’t wait for God to do everything for you but respond to His leading by obedience and let him do things through you. More often than not, God helps those who are willing to partner with Him, participate in His plan and put their hand to the plow.
Many people today seem to demonstrate an attitude that demands others to do something for them without any participation from them. The spirit of entitlement is an aroma that’s very distinctive in today’s culture. It’s seen in our expectations of parents, government agencies, organizations and even God. If we aren’t careful we can fall into the trap of thinking God isn’t at work while failing to realize the problem is our un-willingness to work.
It’s straight forward, not softened or watered down and some would even say it’s harsh, but the Apostle Paul gives this directive in 2 Thessalonians 3:10 “…we gave you this rule: Whoever does not work should not eat.”
Whether it’s picking up your clothes, cleaning your room, laboring on the job, working on your marriage or earning a living, work will provide great dividends if done with the right attitude.
There is no unemployment in God’s Kingdom. There is plenty of work for everyone. Work is not a necessary evil but the pathway to fulfillment.