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Sermon No: 23963-Christians at work - Part 1



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SERMON TOPIC: Christians at work - Part 1

Speaker: Gavin Paynter

Language: ENGLISH

Date: 26 June 2017

Topic Groups: WORK, ETHICS, CHRISTIAN WITNESS

Sermon synopsis:
Adam and Eve worked – so work was part of God’s plan for mankind even before the Fall.
Contrary to popular belief, the need for man to work is not part of the curse. It is true that the ground was cursed and man was told that he would have to work hard to survive in the world:
But before the Fall or the Curse, man had already been given work:
Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.
So the oldest profession is actually gardening or farming.
The point is though that Adam and Eve were not just sitting around in the garden all day eating fruit and ‘loafing’ – they were placed in the garden “to work it and take care of it”.
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THE CHRISTIAN WORK ETHIC

Reading from the NIV:

2 THESS 3:6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us. 7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, laboring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.

10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat. 13 And as for you, brothers, never tire of doing what is right. 14 If anyone does not obey our instruction in this letter, take special note of him. Do not associate with him, in order that he may feel ashamed. 15 Yet do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother.

The Message Version (paraphrase) renders it:

2 THESS 3:6-9 Our orders - backed up by the Master, Jesus - are to refuse to have anything to do with those among you who are lazy and refuse to work the way we taught you. Don’t permit them to freeload on the rest. We showed you how to pull your weight when we were with you, so get on with it. We didn’t sit around on our hands expecting others to take care of us. In fact, we worked our fingers to the bone, up half the night moonlighting so you wouldn’t be burdened with taking care of us. And it wasn’t because we didn’t have a right to your support; we did. We simply wanted to provide an example of

diligence, hoping it would prove contagious. 10-13 Don’t you remember the rule we had when we lived with you? “If you don’t work, you don’t eat.” And now we’re getting reports that a bunch of lazy good-for-nothings are taking advantage of you. This must not be tolerated. We command them to get to work immediately - no excuses, no arguments - and earn their own keep. Friends, don’t slack off in doing your duty. 14-15 If anyone refuses to obey our clear command written in this letter, don’t let him get by with it. Point out such a person and refuse to subsidize his freeloading. Maybe then he’ll think twice. But don’t treat him as an enemy. Sit him down and talk about the problem as someone who cares.

WHY MUST

WE WORK?

After Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden, we read that:

Gen 3:17 To Adam he said, “Because you listened to your wife and ate from the tree about which I commanded you, ‘You must not eat of it,’ “Cursed is the ground because of you; through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life. 18 It will produce thorns and thistles for you, and you will eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground, since from it you were taken; for dust you are and to dust you will return.”

Gen 3:23 So the LORD God banished him from the Garden of Eden to work the ground from which he had been taken.

NOT PART OF THE CURSE

Adam and Eve worked – so work was part of God’s plan for mankind even before the Fall.

Contrary to popular belief, the need for man to work is not part of the curse. It is true that the ground was cursed and man was told that he would have to work hard to survive in the world:

Gen 3:19 By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food until you return to the ground...

WHY MUST WE WORK?

But before the Fall or the Curse, man had already been given work:

Gen 2:15 The LORD God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it.

So the oldest profession is actually gardening or farming.

The point is though that Adam and Eve were not just sitting around in the garden all day eating fruit and ‘loafing’ – they were placed in the garden “to work it and take care of it”.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

God also gave Adam the ‘job’ of naming all living creatures:

Gen 2:19 Now the LORD God had formed out of the ground all the beasts of the field and all the birds of the air. He brought them to the man to see what he would name them; and whatever the man called each living creature, that was its name.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

In addition to working the garden, both man and woman were given dominion over the earth and told to subdue and rule it:

Gen 1:28 God blessed them and said to them, “Be fruitful and increase in number; fill the earth and subdue it. Rule over the fish of the sea and the birds of the air and over every living creature that moves on the ground.”

WHY MUST WE WORK?

God himself works.

The process of creation took six days and was a ‘work’ of God:

Gen 2:2 By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work.

But the creation is also sustained by God. Jesus said that both he and his Father continue working:

John 5:17 Jesus said to them, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I, too, am working.”

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Jesus works.

Before his ministry Jesus worked as a carpenter. Jesus was known in his hometown as “the carpenter”.

Mark 6:3 “Where did this man get these things?” they asked. “What’s this wisdom that has been given him, that he even does miracles! Isn’t this the carpenter?…”

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The ministry that Jesus was called to, was ‘work’ assigned by the Father:

John 4:34 “My food,” said Jesus, “is to do the will of him who sent me and to finish his work.”

John 5:36 “... For the very work that the Father has given me to finish, and which I am doing, testifies that the Father has sent me.”

John 9:4 “As long as it is day, we must do the work of him who sent me...”

John 17:4 “I have brought you glory on earth by completing the work you gave me to do.”

Work is honourable, because it is in the nature of our very Creator and Redeemer to work.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Paul himself was an example of how a Christian should work.

Paul worked as a tent-maker to support his ministry. He told the Ephesian elders:

Acts 20:33 I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions.

Paul did this even though they were entitled to support as missionaries:

1 Thess 3:9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

In Corinth:

Acts 18:1-4 After this, Paul left Athens and went to Corinth. There he met a Jew named Aquila… Paul went to see them, and because he was a tentmaker as they were, he stayed and worked with them. Every Sabbath he reasoned in the synagogue, trying to persuade Jews and Greeks.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

1 Cor 5:12 We work hard with our own hands.

In Thessalonica:

1 Thess 2:9 Surely you remember, brothers, our toil and hardship; we worked night and day in order not to be a burden to anyone while we preached the gospel of God to you.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

So we work so that we can sustain our lives (our food and accommodation) and support our families:

Gen 3:19 “By the sweat of your brow you will eat your food...”

Those who work should be allowed to enjoy the fruit of their labour:

2 Tim 2:6 The hardworking farmer should be the first to receive a share of the crops.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

This truth is not meant to shame men who struggle to provide. On the contrary, there is tremendous honour for that man who struggles to provide. I have known men to work three meagre-paying jobs to humbly support a wife and children. Men have toiled away for years working faithfully in what the world would never see as a dream job. In the face of great uncertainty, men take what jobs they can find and spend little as they feed, clothe and provide for their kids. 1

Some would call this a failure. Some would say that man’s life is ill-spent. He is not chasing his dreams, he is not “called” to this gruelling work, and he will never find true fulfilment in this life. 1

1 "https:// cbmw.org/ topics/ leadership-2/ men-as-providers/ ">https:// cbmw.org/ topics/ leadership-2/ men-as-providers/

WHY MUST WE WORK?

I disagree. This man is not a failure. His work is not something to be ashamed of. This man is a conquering hero. His bravery is to be applauded. His tenacity is to be admired. His steadfastness is to be emulated. Here we have a warrior who will provide for his family in the face of incredible odds and overwhelming hardship. 1

The working man understands that a call to marriage is a call to provide. He will not quietly stand by while his family suffers. He will not chase his childhood dreams on the backs of his wife and children. He will struggle, he will provide, and the Lord will honour him for being a picture of Christ who, though he was in the form of God, did not count equality with God a thing to be grasped, but made himself nothing, taking the form of a servant (Phil 2:6-7). 1

1 Ibid

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The world is confused about the intrinsic nobility of work, and some of that confusion seeps into the Church. We should know better. Scripture commands, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23-24). If you have a job, welcome to the ministry! You are serving the Lord. 1

1 Ibid

WHY MUST WE WORK?

We work so that we can help those in need:

Eph 4:28 He who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with his own hands, that he may have something to share with those in need.

And in so doing we receive God’s blessing:

Acts 20:33 “I have not coveted anyone’s silver or gold or clothing. 34 You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 35 In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’”

WHY MUST WE WORK?

There is satisfaction in working:

Ecc 2:24 A man can do nothing better than to eat and drink and find satisfaction in his work.

Eccl 3:12-13 I know that there is nothing better for people than to be happy and to do good while they live. That each of them may eat and drink, and find satisfaction in all their toil—this is the gift of God.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Eccl 5:18 Then I realized that it is good and proper for a man to eat and drink, and to find satisfaction in his toilsome labour under the sun during the few days of life God has given him - for this is his lot. 19 Moreover, when God gives any man wealth and possessions, and enables him to enjoy them, to accept his lot and be happy in his work - this is a gift of God.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

We work so that we can be financially independent and not reliant on anybody else – thereby winning the respect of non-Christians:

1 Thess 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

1 Thess 4:11-12 Stay calm; mind your own business; do your own job. You’ve heard all this from us before, but a reminder never hurts. We want you living in a way that will command the respect of outsiders, not lying around sponging off your friends. (The Message)

WHY MUST WE WORK?

If a man does not provide, especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith.

1 Tim 5:8 Anyone who does not provide for their relatives, and especially for their own household, has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever.

Whatever you may think God has called you to do, the Bible is clear on this – you need to provide for your family. If you are able-bodied and do not work to support your own household, you have “denied the faith”.

Psalm 37:25 I was young and now I am old, yet I have never seen the righteous forsaken or their children begging bread.

This is not because God miraculously rains down money on the righteous – it is because the righteous work!

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Something about growing up and having a family changes the perspective of a man… Instead of wanting to be a famous astronaut, he dreams of raising one. This is maturity. This is growing up. This is a man dying to self and living for another. One of the saddest pictures of gospel-confusion is when a man fails to pursue providing for his family because he is stuck chasing the clouds of his youth. Scripture commands men to give themselves up for their wives, just as Christ gave Himself up for the Church (Eph 5:25). When a man stubbornly refuses to get a job that will support his family or, worse still, when he obligates his wife to provide in his stead because he is entitled to “chase his dreams” or “pursue his calling,” the Bible gives us reason to doubt that man’s faith. Unbelievers intuitively know this is wrong. The conscience of the redeemed condemns it too. 1

1 "https:// cbmw.org/ topics/ leadership-2/ men-as-providers/ ">https:// cbmw.org/ topics/ leadership-2/ men-as-providers/

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The businessman, the mechanic, the salesman, the lawyer, the teacher, the waiter, and the landscaper are all in direct service to Christ. On top of that, the men who hold these jobs to provide for their families are fulfilling a biblical mandate. There is honour and goodness in work. God’s glory is glimpsed each time a man brings home a paycheck. A man coming home to play with his kids after an exhausting day of work has shown us what Christlikeness is. Our intuition tells us something is wrong when a man does not provide for his family. Our conscience pricks us when we hear of a woman paying her husband’s way. Our hearts break when we see a man who selfishly refuses a job because it does not align with his dreams while his wife and kids suffer. We are not alone in condemning this man. Scripture condemns him too. He is worse than an unbeliever. 1

1 Ibid

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Christians should not have an ‘entitlement’ mentality (when we expect things for nothing) but must work for a living:

1 Thess 3:7 For you yourselves know how you ought to follow our example. We were not idle when we were with you, 8 nor did we eat anyone’s food without paying for it. On the contrary, we worked night and day, labouring and toiling so that we would not be a burden to any of you. 9 We did this, not because we do not have the right to such help, but in order to make ourselves a model for you to follow. 10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.” 11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Regarding an ‘entitlement’ mentality a Christian should realise that:

It is not the government’s responsibility to support you - unless you are earning a pension after having worked while you were able-bodied and younger – and having paid your taxes and contributed to pension fund schemes.

It is not charity’s responsibility to support people capable of working.

If you are an able-bodied man, it is not your parent’s or your family’s responsibility to support you. You should be earning your living and supporting your family – not the other way around.

It is not the church’s responsibility to support you.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The Biblical teaching is that even those who need support (like widows) should only be assisted by the church if the following four conditions are met:

She is at least sixty years or older (i.e. not in a position to work)

1 Tim 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she is over sixty... 11 As for younger widows, do not put them on such a list...

Paul advises younger widows to rather remarry:

1 Tim 5:14 So I counsel younger widows to marry, to have children, to manage their homes and to give the enemy no opportunity for slander.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The widow has no living family who can help her.

1 Tim 5:3 Give proper recognition to those widows who are really in need. 4 But if a widow has children or grandchildren, these should learn first of all to put their religion into practice by caring for their own family and so repaying their parents and grandparents, for this is pleasing to God... Give the people these instructions, too, so that no one may be open to blame. 8 If anyone does not provide for his relatives, and especially for his immediate family, he has denied the faith and is worse than an unbeliever... 16 If any woman who is a believer has widows in her family, she should help them and not let the church be burdened with them, so that the church can help those widows who are really in need.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

She was faithful to her husband when he was living.

1 Tim 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she ... has been faithful to her husband...

She has good character and lives a Christian life.

1 Tim 5:9 No widow may be put on the list of widows unless she… 10 is well known for her good deeds, such as bringing up children, showing hospitality, washing the feet of the saints, helping those in trouble and devoting herself to all kinds of good deeds.

Many people don’t even attend church, but expect the church to support them (or pray for them to get a job) when they’re in need.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

Who should be finding you work? You should!

The church is not an employment or recruitment agency. While as Christian brothers and sisters we can obviously look out for job opportunities for others, the onus is on you to find employment.

If you are struggling to find work, it is you (not someone else you have asked) who should be looking harder, praying more fervently or maybe being less fussy about what work you are prepared to do. If you truly are desperate for work, take what you can find (even if it is not ideal), while you look for something better.

Use your common sense. Don’t quit your job if you don’t have another job lined up – not a promise, a formal work offer!

FINDING WORK

Work is a part of our Christian testimony. If we as professing Christians are lazy, this will cause people to turn from the gospel.

Heb 6:12 We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.

Prov 21:25 The sluggard’s craving will be the death of him, because his hands refuse to work.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

The 4th Commandment tells us that we shall work for six days and rest for one.

Exodus 20:9-10 Six days you shall labour and do all your work, but the seventh day is a sabbath to the LORD your God. On it you shall not do any work…

Poverty comes to the lazy sluggard who refuses to work.

Prov 24:30-34 I went past the field of a sluggard, past the vineyard of someone who has no sense; thorns had come up everywhere, the ground was covered with weeds, and the stone wall was in ruins. I applied my heart to what I observed and learned a lesson from what I saw: A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest—and poverty will come on you like a thief and scarcity like an armed man.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

2 Thess 3:10 For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: “If a man will not work, he shall not eat.”

The Greek phrase “θέλει ἐργάζεσθαι” means “is not willing to work”. In other words Paul is not referring to someone who is temporarily unemployed, while looking for new employment.

2 Thess 3:11 We hear that some among you are idle. They are not busy; they are busybodies. 12 Such people we command and urge in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.

There were some people in the Thessalonian church who were lazy. They didn’t work to provide for themselves but lived on the kindness of other Christians.

WHY MUST WE WORK?

We are told to warn those who claim to be Christians, but who are lazy.

1 Thess 5:14 And we urge you, brothers, warn those who are idle

If they don’t heed the warning we are told to disassociate ourselves from those who are not willing to work.

1 Thess 3:6 In the name of the Lord Jesus Christ, we command you, brothers, to keep away from every brother who is idle and does not live according to the teaching you received from us.

CHRISTIAN WORKERS

1 Thess 4:11-12 Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with your hands, just as we told you, so that your daily life may win the respect of outsiders and so that you will not be dependent on anybody.

CLOSING EXHORTATION

COPYRIGHT INFORMATION

Unless otherwise stated, Scripture quotations are taken from the NIV:

THE HOLY BIBLE, NEW INTERNATIONAL VERSION®, NIV® Copyright © 1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission. All rights reserved worldwide.

Scripture quotations taken from the NASB:

New American Standard Bible®, Copyright © 1960, 1962, 1963, 1968, 1971, 1972, 1973, 1975, 1977, 1995 by The Lockman Foundation Used by permission. ("http:// www.lockman.org/ ">www.Lockman.org)




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