Old Testament

The Beginning

Isis. Gun Violence. Economic Collapse. Unsafe Drinking Water. Global Warming. Racial Tension. Political Instability. Worldwide Pandemics. Technological Blackout. Meteor Collision. Zombie Apocalypse. Fear is everywhere. We cannot escape the constant barrage of news stories or television shows that are designed to incite fear into our lives. And fear doesn’t appear only in the main stream media, but in the pews of our churches. We constantly hear, “The church is dying,” “The culture is moving away from the Lord,” “The younger generation do not like tradition,” “The older generations like tradition too much,” “We are not making budget.” We live in a world that wants us to be fearful. 

      Fear is a lack of faith. Fear underestimates the power of God. We are taught to believe Psalm 118:6, for “The Lord is on my side; I will not fear; what can man do to me?” The reason we do not have to fear is because the Lord is on our side. If people know that the Lord is on their side, why do people fear? Why are people so afraid? I believe that people live in fear because they do not understand who the Lord is who is at their side. It is one thing to say the Lord is on my side, it is quite another to say the Lord the Almighty, Creator of heaven and earth, Sovereign King of the Universe is on our side. The Bible is a book about God. The Bible teaches us what God has done and what He is like. The foundation to understanding the character of God begins in Genesis 1. Genesis was not fundamentally written to explain all the details of gravity or the various types of dinosaurs or how Cain found a wife. Genesis was written to a fearful Israel so that they would properly understand who God is and why Yahweh is the most powerful God over all others. 

Moses probably wrote Genesis after Israel’s exodus from Egypt and before their entrance into the promise land immediately following his death. Israel had lived in the pluralistic culture of Egypt with their various gods and were going to face the pluralistic gods of Canaan. Moses wanted Israel to know that they did not need to fear because their God was far greater than any other gods. Yahweh is greater, because He is the Creator King and is over all the universe.

The situation of Israel is not much different from our situation. They were tempted to fear the strength and the gods of the culture as we are tempted to live in fear. The words of Genesis may not answer all your questions about science, but they should reveal to you the power of the Creator King of the universe. I pray that you will not fear, but rather that you will know who the Lord is that is on your side.

The Creator King Systematically Speaks Creation

            The reason we should have confidence in God is because he created an ordered world out of chaos through his powerful word. Genesis 1 is a beautiful passage of Scripture. The Hebrew structure and arrangement of the chapter echo God’s perfection and power in creating the world. English Bibles end after the sixth day while the Hebrew structure is clear that it should end when God rested on the seventh day. Moses begins new sections with the “toledot” or “these are the generations” throughout the book of Genesis to help the reader understand the structure. There is also a chiastic inclusion at with Genesis 1:1 and Genesis 2:3. This means that the same words that are used in Genesis 1:1 are the same words used in Genesis 2:1-3, but in reverse order. The structure is important to fully grasp what God is communicating to Israel through Moses.

            Moses systematically orders the text as God systematically orders Creation. The first sentence, “In the beginning, God created the heavens and the earth,” provides a worldview for all believers. Derek Kinder observes, “It is no accident that God is the subject of the first sentence of the Bible, for this word dominates the whole chapter and catches the eye at every point of the page: it is used some thirty-five times in as many verses of the story.[1]” God is the main character of the Bible and Genesis 1 highlights the complete perfection of God.

            Moses systematically structured the text using the perfect number 7 to show how God perfectly ordered the cosmos. There are seven days, seven times God said, “And it was so,” seven times, “God saw that it was good/very good,” heaven and earth are both mentioned 21 times (a multiple of seven), and God is mentioned 35 times, another multiple of seven. God perfectly and systematically ordered creation. The days of creation are structured in two sets of three days, three being another number of completeness. The two sets of three days solve the problem stated in Genesis 1:2, “The earth was without form and void, and darkness was over the face of the deep. And the Spirit of God was hovering over the face of the waters.” The earth was without form and void. The first set of three days solves the form problem while the second set of three solves the problem of the void.

            Each day has a very similar structure: an announcement (God said), a command (let there be), a report (and it was so) an evaluation (it was good) and a chronology (the first day). We can see this structure in the first day. Genesis 1:3-5, “And God said, “Let there be light,” and there was light. And God saw that the light was good. And God separated the light from the darkness. God called the light Day, and the darkness he called Night. And there was evening and there was morning, the first day.” On the first day God solved the form problem by separating light from darkness. On the second day he separated sky and water and on the third day he separated water from the land and made vegetation. Then on the second set of three days God solved the problem of the earth being void. He filled the earth with the luminaries of the Sun and Moon to light the day and night. He filled the sky with birds and the sea with fish. He provided animals and man to fill the earth with man being the pinnacle of creation to subdue and exercise dominion of the earth.

The all-wise, infinite God perfectly ordered creation. There are scores of books and theories written about the age of the earth and how scientific discovery mesh with the creation account of Genesis 1. There is value in studying and defending particular theories on the creation account, but we do not want those discussions to overtake the main thrust of the passage. The main point of the passage is that God created the heavens and earth. He, and He alone, gave the earth form and filled its void. An old age creationist and a young-earther can agree on that and thus can cooperate and have fellowship in the same church. Israel would have seen Genesis 1 as displaying God’s power and control over the earth rather than trying to figure out exact details of the creation account. Genesis 1 was written to give comfort and hope to Israel as they were surrounded by other gods so we have to be careful not to read Genesis 1 only through our western, rational, scientific minds, but also to see the original intent of the book.

God solves the problem of an earth without form and void by His Word. Creation came into existence out of nothing, or “ex nihilio,” by the Word of God. The One who always existed brought a world into existence by his word. Ten times in the creation account we see, “And God said…” Think of Israel’s history and how they would have heard Genesis 1. They were in bondage in Egypt and God brought Ten plagues upon the Egyptians. God brought them to Mount Sinai and gave them ten commandments to live by. And here Moses explains how God created the world by providing ten words to his creation. In those days, the King spoke a decree and it was done. We see in Genesis 1, God speaks and it is done showing that God, Elohim, is the King of Universe.

God brings order out of chaos with his powerful word. The New Testament continues this theme in John 1,

In the beginning was the Word, and the Word was with God, and the Word was God. He was in the beginning with God. All things were made through him, and without him was not any thing made that was made. In him was life, and the life was the light of men. The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness has not overcome it. And the Word became flesh and dwelt among us, and we have seen his glory, glory as of the only Son from the Father, full of grace and truth. (John 1:1-5; 14)

Jesus Christ is the Word of God the Father. Jesus is One with the King of Universe. He is the Sovereign Creator and creation was created for His glory. Colossians 1:15-17,

He is the image of the invisible God, the firstborn of all creation. For by him all things were created, in heaven and on earth, visible and invisible, whether thrones or dominions or rulers or authorities—all things were created through him and for him. And he is before all things, and in him all things hold together.

All things were created through him and for him. Genesis 1 repeats Ten Words, “And God said,” as a sign of His perfect work in creation, but now God has spoken his perfect work in the finished work of his Son. Hebrews 1:1-4,

Long ago, at many times and in many ways, God spoke to our fathers by the prophets, but in these last days he has spoken to us by his Son, whom he appointed the heir of all things, through whom also he created the world. He is the radiance of the glory of God and the exact imprint of his nature, and he upholds the universe by the word of his power. After making purification for sins, he sat down at the right hand of the Majesty on high, having become as much superior to angels as the name he has inherited is more excellent than theirs.

As God spoke to solve the problem of an earth that was without form and void so now God has spoken to solve the problem of sin and death through the Word made flesh. Jesus emptied himself of his glory to become a servant being made in our likeness.

The Creator became like one of his creatures, being made in the likeness of man to solve our problem of fear. Hebrews 2:14-15 help us understand the Word that Jesus now speaks, “Since therefore the children share in flesh and blood, he himself likewise partook of the same things, that through death he might destroy the one who has the power of death, that is, the devil, and deliver all those who through fear of death were subject to lifelong slavery.” The Israelites were subject to lifelong slavery until God spoke his Ten Perfect Words against the Egyptians and we were subject to lifelong slavery until God spoke his Perfect Word against death and the devil. Jesus freed us from slavery by dying in our place on the cross and being raised on the third day. God has promised to save anyone from their fear of death by offering eternal life through faith in Jesus’ perfect work of redemption.

Beloved, Genesis 1 is a picture of how God has spoken and how He still speaks. The great problem of Genesis 1 was solved through God’s Word and our great problem today is solved through God’s Word. Jesus still speaks, have you heard His word?

The Creator King Sovereignly Rules Creation

            Moses shows that God is the One who is the Sovereign King of creation not the gods of the opposing nations. Israel would have known and been exposed to the gods of the Egyptians. The Egyptians believed in the pagan gods of the Sun and the Moon. Moses shows how the “powerful” pagan gods are merely God’s creatures along with the birds of the sky and the fish of the sea. Israel always struggled with fear. Many of those who first heard Genesis 1 were those who got right to the edge of the Promised Land only to spend their lives wandering in the dessert because they feared the size of Canaanites. They feared the Canaanites because they did not understand who was on their side. The Lord, the Sovereign King of the Universe, rules heaven and earth. We should not fear those who can only kill the body, but can do no more. We should fear God who is in control of our earthly life as well as the life to come.

            What are you fearful of today? What anxieties keep you up at night? What fears creep into your soul to doubt God? Beloved, our world trains us to fear, but our God is in control. It is a simple message. God is in control. God is not surprised by cancer. God is not surprised by Islamic terrorist. He is not surprised by economic collapse or a shrinking American evangelical church. God is in control. Creation is God’s testimony of His Sovereign power. Jesus says in Matthew 6,

“Therefore I tell you, do not be anxious about your life, what you will eat or what you will drink, nor about your body, what you will put on. Is not life more than food, and the body more than clothing? Look at the birds of the air: they neither sow nor reap nor gather into barns, and yet your heavenly Father feeds them. Are you not of more value than they? And which of you by being anxious can add a single hour to his span of life? And why are you anxious about clothing? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow: they neither toil nor spin, yet I tell you, even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these. But if God so clothes the grass of the field, which today is alive and tomorrow is thrown into the oven, will he not much more clothe you, O you of little faith? Therefore do not be anxious, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the Gentiles seek after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them all. But seek first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, and all these things will be added to you. “Therefore do not be anxious about tomorrow, for tomorrow will be anxious for itself. Sufficient for the day is its own trouble. (Matthew 6:25-34)

Look at the birds of the air. The same birds I spoke into existence on the 5th day of Creation. Those birds are an ever-present reminder of my power.  Look at the lilies of the field. The same vegetation I caused to sprout on the 3rd day of Creation.

            When your fears and anxiety start getting the best of you, take a walk and observe creation. Remind your heart that God is in control. You do not need to fear; you need to remember. God is in control. Remember that our Lord Jesus Christ is the One who has been given all Authority in heaven and earth. The One who has all authority is the One whose hands have been pierced for you. You can trust the power displayed in Creation as you can trust the heart of the Creator.

The Creator King Safely Restores Creation

            One of the dominant themes of Genesis 1 is not only that God is the created, but that the creation is good. God looked over all that he had made and said that it was very good. It was perfect. It was excellent. It was spectacular. The creation account ends in Genesis 2:1-3,

Thus the heavens and the earth were finished, and all the host of them. And on the seventh day God finished his work that he had done, and he rested on the seventh day from all his work that he had done. So God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it God rested from all his work that he had done in creation.

God rested on the 7th day and made it holy. We gather on this Sabbath Day, the day that God has set apart for us as we look forward to the Sabbath rest of the people of God. The Sabbath is a reminder that God will restore his creation. He will bring about a prefect redemption. Genesis 1:1-Genesis 2:3 does not speak of sin or the Fall. It does not speak of a world that has been subjected to futility, but the original audience would have known of the Fall. Their backs would have born the scares of Egyptian whips. Their eyes would have seen death and decay in the wilderness. We do not see sin in creation, but we all have experienced the effects of sin. The effects of sin are a reminder that the world we live in is not the way it was supposed to be. God rested on the 7th Day because all that he created was very good.

            Today, and every Sabbath day, we model what God did at the end of his creation. God rested. We gather as God’s people and remember that we have rested from our labors. We no longer try to earn God’s favor with our work, but we rest in the finish work of God’s Incarnate Word. Jesus Christ has finished God’s Work. He now sits at the right hand of God ready to come again and fully restore this world to its perfection. Have you experienced that rest? Are you still trying to earn your salvation? Or have you rested in Christ? Our gathering this morning is a reminder of the finished work of Christ. God has brought salvation to his people. Jesus hung on the cross and said as he gave up his spirit, “It is finished.” Beloved, your salvation has been purchased through the blood of Christ. Rest in Him as we wait for the Sabbath rest of the people of God. God saw the Word spoken in the Son and saw that it was very good. The Lord is on our side, let us not fear.

 

 

 

[1] Greidanusm Sidney. 4

The Wisdom of Work (Proverbs 6:6-11; Proverbs 26:12-16)


      The average person will spend 80,000 hours at work in their life. An article published in the Business Insider a few years ago detailed some interesting facts about the workplace.
  • 80% of people are dissatisfied with their jobs.
  • On average, Americans work 8 different jobs before they are 30.
  • 25% of employees say work is their main source of stress and 40% say their job is "very or extremely” stressful.
  • More than 13 million working days are lost every year because of stress-related illnesses.
  • The average American spends 100 hours commuting each year.
  • 64% of Americans canceled vacations last year. One-third did it for work-related reasons even though most felt they were more in need of a vacation than the year before.
  • In the United States, workers take an average of 57 percent of their vacation days. That means most of us voluntarily give up about 50 percent of the time off we're legally allowed so we can continue to work instead.
  • 25% of people check into work hourly while on vacation, via email and phone. 59% said they check work during traditional holidays like Christmas and Thanksgiving. Basically, work is everywhere.[1]

Work is everywhere. Everyone will be called to work in one way or another. Are we all destined to be dissatisfied and stressed during our work life? How do we approach our work? How should we understand the purpose of work? How can we approach Monday morning with joy instead of dread? How should our faith impact our work lives?

      German Sociologist and Economist Max Weber coined the term “Protestant Work Ethic” in 1905 in his seminal work, “The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism.” He argues in the book that the protestant work ethic traced back to Martin Luther redefined worldly work as one’s Christian duty that benefits both the individual and society as a whole. Since the Protestant Reformation, the church has believed that one’s faith should be displayed as a sign of grace. So one’s hard work and frugality became markers that one possessed a true faith in Christ. One’s work was a picture of the grace one had received by Christ.

      Work has always been important in our culture. The Protestant Work Ethic built America’s railroads, supplied factories, and harvested crops. America grew in cultural dominance because of the people’s ability to work. Although there are many who still value work, there are others who have given their work an inordinate amount of power in their lives. Some work too much, while others do not work enough. Solomon hoped to encourage and warn to young people to have them see the importance of work while guarding against the dangers of poor work habits. Before we dig into the practical exhortations, let us first build a brief theology of work.

The Theology of Work

            What we believe shapes how we live. If we want to live right, we must first believe right. Proverbs 9:10, “The fear of the Lord is the beginning of wisdom, and the knowledge of the Holy One is insight.” Work has always been part of God’s world.

God Designed Work

            Work was established in the opening two chapters of Genesis. After God created Adam and Ever he charged them to work to care for his good world, Genesis 1:28, “And God blessed them. And God said to them, ‘Be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it, and have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over every living thing that moves on the earth.’” Adam and Eve were called to exercise dominion or to work to care for the garden. In the parallel account of creation, in Genesis 2:5, “there was no man to work the ground,” so God formed man and Genesis 2:15, “The LORD God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.” Work was created and designed by God. It is good.

God Cursed Work
            The world used to cooperate alongside humanity to bring joy to a man’s hands while he worked the ground, but after man’s sinful rebellion God cursed our work. Our work would no longer be easy, but difficult. God cursed Adam’s work saying to him,

Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return. (Genesis 3:17-19)

The ground now works against humanity. The sweat that Adam experienced in the garden is like stress we feel before walking into the office on Monday before a presentation. The curse brought sweat and stress into our work.

God Redeemed Work

            God had pity on humanity. We were under the curse of sin and death so God sent his Son to redeem us from the curse by being cursed for us. “Christ redeemed us from the curse of the law by becoming a curse for us—for it is written, “Cursed is everyone who is hanged on a tree”—so that in Christ Jesus the blessing of Abraham might come to the Gentiles, so that we might receive the promised Spirit through faith.” (Galatians 3:13-14) Christ became a curse to reverse the curse. He came that we may have life and life abundantly. He restored purpose in our work. He restored promises from our work. We no longer live to serve ourselves in our work, but now we live to serve him.

            A key text on work is Colossians 3:22-24 where Paul redefines our work by redefining our master. He writes,

Bondservants, obey in everything those who are your earthly masters, not by way of eye-service, as people-pleasers, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord. 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 3:22-24)

Every day we work, we are serving Jesus Christ. This should give us purpose in any job we have whether if it is a ditch digger or a stay-at home mom, a sales rep or a CEO, a janitor or a postman. Every job has value because it is done for the honor of the Lord Christ. We get to serve Jesus through our jobs. Praise God for his kindness to allow sinners to experience joy and eternal value in our work.
           The Bible never speaks about retirement. Retirement is a modern construct. You may no longer need the money for a paycheck, but that does not mean you are not called to work. The Bible says whatever we do we are to work heartily unto the Lord. It is the Lord Christ we are serving. Many of you no longer work for wages, but continue to work diligently for the good of your family members who need care, for your community, and for your church. Whatever stage of life we are in, we must view it through the lens of Scripture. We should always live with an eye on eternity whether we are 15 or 75 years old. (I would commend to you John Piper’s Rethinking Retirement: Finishing Life for the Glory of Christ.)

      This 30,000 foot view of work should shape your 9-5. It should shape every minute of every hour of every day of your life. We have been purchased with a price. We are not our own, but belong, body and soul, life and death, to God, and to our Savior Christ Jesus. We want to work wisely, not only for practical benefits, but for the glory of the Lord Christ. It is from him we will receive our inheritance that is imperishable, undefiled and unfading. And Proverbs has much to say about how the wise work. Although many of us will apply these principles to our jobs, keep in mind that your job is only a small part of your work. How we work encompasses our jobs, our home life, and our service.

The Wise Works Diligently

      All of the exhortations to wise work can be summed up in one word: diligence. Diligence is constant and earnest effort to accomplish what is undertaken; persistent exertion of body or mind; careful and persistent effort. This is something that desperately needs to be recovered in our society. We all have personal stories of those who demonstrate diligence in their work and frustrations of those who are slack in their work. According to God’s Word, the wise will work hard. We have to recover a healthy, robust biblical view of work. Besides honoring the Lord, there are practical benefits to working diligently.

They Have Resources

            It is easy to spiritualize work, but we cannot avoid that we work to get money to pay our bills and put food on the table. We do not work only for money, but we do work for money. Proverbs are generally true, but not always true. There are people who work hard, but are still in poverty. The majority of world is filled with people in this situation, who for whatever the reason, be it systematic problems, discrimination, or infrastructure, work hard, but have little to show for it.

Although it is true that some hard workers are poor, often those who become wealthy are diligent. Proverbs 10:4, “A slack hand causes poverty, but the hand of the diligent makes rich.” The diligent hand is careful and persistent. Wealth does not come over night, but it takes long term faithfulness. My uncle worked as a HVAC repairman for years. He lived a modest life, but retired a very wealthy man. His years of diligence gave him riches. Proverbs 21:5, “The plans of the diligent lead surely to abundance, but everyone who is hasty comes only to poverty.” Proverbs 13:4 says, “The soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” A general rule is those who work harder have more in the end. Slow and steady diligent work is a picture of a wise worker.

Let us consider the ant. Let us learn from her ways and be wise for, “Without having any chief, officer, or ruler, she prepares her bread in summer and gathers her food in harvest.” (Proverbs 6:7) Work hard, work steady and you will have the resources you need to live.

They Have Rule

            Not only will the wise worker have resources, but he will also rule over people. Proverbs 12:24, “The hand of the diligent will rule, while the slothful will be put to forced labor.” Those who work hard are often the ones promoted and trusted with the responsibility to lead. It is always a poor move to promote someone who is lazy, but diligent worker will eventually rule over those with little effort. 1 Timothy 5:25, “So also good works are conspicuous, and even those that are not cannot remain hidden.” Our good works will not remain hidden and we will be rewarded for them.

They Have Reputation

Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Diligence will lead to skill which will lead to influence. Frank Chodorov wrote how political figures were once required to demonstrate reputation of skill in his work. He writes,

There was a time, in these United States, when a candidate for public office could qualify with the electorate only by fixing his birthplace in or near the “log cabin”…In short, he had to be “self made.” The so-called Protestant Ethic then prevalent held that man was a sturdy and responsible individual, responsible to himself, his society, and his God. Anybody who could not measure up to that standard could not qualify for public office or even popular respect.

You do not work for the reputation. You work and you will get a reputation. A man in our church, Olin McKee, has the reputation as one of the finest business men in Rock Hill. He built half the city, because his work was such a high quality, he received a reputation of excellence. His reputation kept in business for over 30 years. The diligent will receive a reputation that is fitting for the God they serve. 

They Have Righteousness

            Christians are called to work hard, but they are also called to work in righteousness. A shoemaker once asked Martin Luther., “How should he make shoes for the glory of God?”  Luther responded, “Make a good shoe and sell it at a fair price.” Christian should operate in the public sphere with kindness and equity. Proverbs 16:11, “A just balance and scales are the Lord's; all the weights in the bag are his work.” Proverbs 20:23, “Unequal weights are an abomination to the Lord, and false scales are not good.” It is tempting to sell things above their value or to buy things below their value. On the last day, a few dollars will not be worth it. We are living for the Lord Christ. We should work for righteousness. We bear His name so let us conduct our business in a way that fitting to the Lord.

They Have Risk

There are many blessings to work, but there also are some very potent pitfalls. Bob Schultz writes in his book, Created for Work: Practical Insights for Young Men,

The grand quality of diligence, which is essential when you begin working, turns a man into a workaholic if not balanced. The freedoms that bless the industrious become snares when given to selfish pleasure. The diligent are tempted to forget God, trust in riches, and look down on the poor. What once was the reward of hard work quickly transforms resources to fulfill the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eyes, and the pride of life. Be on guard. God designs the diligent to collect resources and talents with the goal to use them in an appropriate season for good. As always, Jesus leads us by His example.[2]

Diligence turns into a snare when people do not fear the Lord. Diligence must be placed under the protection of the fear of the Lord.

It is very easy to have work become an idol. Our work becomes an idol when we give it more importance than the Lord. Sebastian Traeger and Greg Gilbert write in God at Work: How Working for King Jesus Gives Purpose and Meaning to Our Jobs,

For many people today, their passion is their job and all things their job and all of the things their job can provide for them – money, status, identity, pleasure and purpose. Our jobs capture our hearts and our devotion. We give ourselves to them day in and day out. They become the primary object of our passions, our energy, and our love. We may not be willing to admit it, but we worship our jobs.

Have you given your work too much importance in your life? Does you work give you ultimate satisfaction? Or does it give you a sense of meaning or value? Work is a terrible god because it can never satisfy. It always wants more: more to be done and more to be achieved. Satisfaction will always be elusive. We cannot be defined by our jobs, but by our King. The most important title in our lives is not Senior Pastor or Senior Vice President, but Christian.

Another danger to the diligent is compartmentalization. There are many who are diligent at work, but may be a sluggard at home. Colossians 3:23-24, “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.” We serve Christ at the office and in caring for the home. Diligence at work can also lead people to become spiritual sluggards. God has given the Sabbath to protect us from the snares of diligence. We rest from our labors on Sunday as a reminder to live for the eternal Sabbath rest for the people of God in heaven. What does it profit a man to gain the whole world, but lose his soul? Regularly practicing the Sabbath will guard our hearts from the idolatry of work.

The Sluggard Works Lazily

If the main attribute of wise work is diligence, than the main attribute of foolish work is sloth. The Proverbs contrast the diligent and sluggard frequently. The sluggard is wise in his own eyes and allows pleasure and ease to dominate his life. The main problem of a sluggard is that he does not see the value of work. He does not serve others, but wants others to serve him. There are great dangers for the sluggard.

They Have Hunger

If the diligent are satisfied, the sluggards are hungry. Proverbs 12:27, “Whoever is slothful will not roast his game, but the diligent man will get precious wealth.” Proverbs 13:4, “The soul of the sluggard craves and gets nothing, while the soul of the diligent is richly supplied.” Proverbs 20:4, The sluggard does not plow in the autumn; he will seek at harvest and have nothing.” In an agrarian society, one’s food had to be cultivated from the land. A sluggard who refuses to work the land did not eat. The modern advancements in our society may mask sloth by not allowing the sluggards to experience the consequences for their slack hand.

They Have Hem-Haws

            Sluggards are full of excuses for not doing the work.  They hem and haw when asked to work. Proverbs 26:13-14, “The sluggard says, “There is a lion in the road! There is a lion in the streets! As a door turns on its hinges, so does a sluggard on his bed.” A sluggard can always find a reason not to complete a task. They put off until tomorrow what should be done today. Sluggards may do the work, but they give excuses why mediocre work is ok. When I was 16 years old, I worked in maintenance for an outdoor mall. My job one Saturday was to weed the little decorative pebble islands throughout the parking lot. The work was tedious and boring. I decided that it was easier to shift the pebbles over the weeds rather than pull them. I excused my lazy, slack work because “no one” could tell the difference. Be on guard for the excuses in your work. Serve gladly and with a cheerful heart whether at work, at home or in the church. Remember you are serving the Lord Christ.

They Have Hatred

      Sluggards do not love their neighbors. Our work is an expression of our love for God and our love for our neighbor. Sloth does not serve others and should be taken seriously. We cannot minimize the sin of sloth. Proverbs 10:26, “Like vinegar to the teeth and smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to those who send him.” Proverbs 18:9, “Whoever is slack in his work is a brother to him who destroys.” If you have ever sat around a fire and had smoke get in your eyes, you know how frustrating it can be. The smoke stifles the pleasure and enjoyment of the fire. A sluggard stifles pleasure and enjoyment of others. They serve themselves and do not serve others.

Paul writes to the Ephesians how the new life in Christ should change our work habits, “Let the thief no longer steal, but rather let him labor, doing honest work with his own hands, so that he may have something to share with anyone in need.” (Ephesians 4:28) How one worked in and for the community was a sign of their faith. Do you view your work as a way to love your neighbor and community?

They Have Helpers

            Sluggards are fools. Foolishness is bound up in the heart of a child. Sloth is bound up in all of our hearts. We all have tendencies to live as sluggards in different areas, but we cannot accommodate for sluggards. There seems to be an epidemic among young people who have an aversion to hard work. The problem is not with the young people, but with the people who enable and accept that behavior. If you serve the flesh, the flesh will grow. It does not serve our children or Christian brothers and sisters to enable their laziness. Paul warns the Thessalonians how to handle idleness,

For even when we were with you, we would give you this command: If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat. For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies. Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. As for you, brothers, do not grow weary in doing good. If anyone does not obey what we say in this letter, take note of that person, and have nothing to do with him, that he may be ashamed. Do not regard him as an enemy, but warn him as a brother. (2 Thessalonians 3:10-15)

We are obligated to warn people of the dangers of idleness and if necessary allow them to experience the consequences of laziness.

The world may tolerate sloth, but Christ does not. Sluggards do not love the community, but love themselves. Those who love themselves do not love God and are in danger. It is not loving ignore laziness, but we most admonish the idle.

The Gospel at Work
    
        Beloved, God has redeemed our work through the gospel. Who we work for is far more important than what we do. We serve King Jesus through our work. We should approach our work as way to adorn the doctrine of God our Savior. We should allow God to use our work to sanctify us and to serve our neighbors. We should approach our jobs not as a means to an end, but as an expression of our Christian discipleship for the glory of God. Paul tells Titus that Jesus Christ, “gave himself for us to redeem us from all lawlessness and to purify for himself a people for his own possession who are zealous for good works.” (Titus 2:14) Jesus Christ laid down his life so that we could work diligently for his glory. God’s people should care about their jobs. Our jobs matter to God. He died and rose again to purify us to work to display God’s glory. Our work does not save us, but is a sign of God’s grace in our lives. God allows us to work so let us work for good of our neighbors and the glory of God.




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