Bella Vista Church of Christ



Randall Caselman


Work! Work! Work!

Is It Right?


  Some people hate to do it. Some love it. Some go to great lengths to avoid it. Some do too much of it.


  God has a clear perspective on it, and we are to align our thoughts with His. So, what does the Bible have to say about it? In the beginning, man seems to have been created to work. He was given the task of caring for God's Garden: "The Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work it and take care of it" Genesis 2.15).


  Both work and rest are expected, commanded, by God. The Ten Commandments has God saying: "Six days you shall labor 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, neither you, nor your son or daughter, nor your manservant or maidservant, nor your animals, nor the alien within your gates. For in six days the Lord made the heavens and the earth, the sea, and all that is in them, but he rested on the seventh day. Therefore the Lord blessed the Sabbath day and made it holy." (Exodus 20.8-11). Did you catch it? God works. God has a labor. It becomes plain here that God expects us, like Him, to work and to rest from our labor. Perhaps God is even suggesting a ratio, six-to-one. Even the casual Bible student understands that God is unhappy with idleness, but that He promises to bless honest labor.


  Some are ready to say: "Well, times are different; it takes me seven days to make a living." Oh Really? I think we can agree that the Sabbath Day, as a day of rest has passed away with the rest of the Law of Moses. However, like all the other commands, the principle of rest, caring for the body and mind, and soul, is still in effect. God expects us to work, rest, and refresh ourselves in an appropriate manner.


  Think about the life of Jesus and what He accomplished in a short ministry of three-and-a-half years. Jesus worked intensely, yet rested; worked and refreshed Himself: "Don't you know I must be about Father’s business” (Luke 2.49). "As long as it is day, we must do the work of Him who sent Me. Night is coming, when no-one can work" (John 9.4). Yet over and over again we see Jesus abide by the principle of rest: "Then, because so many people were coming and going that they did not even have a chance to eat, He said to them, “Come with Me by yourselves to a quiet place and get some rest” (Mark 6.31).”After He had dismissed the crowd, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone" (Matthew 14.23). "The next day the crowd realized that Jesus had not entered the boat with his disciples, and that they had gone away alone" (John 6.22). Question! Did Jesus work? Did He keep the Sabbath Principle of rest? Indeed He did. Should we? Indeed we should!


  Another question needs to be asked: What's the purpose for our work? The Bible not only teaches us that we should work; it gives us the proper motives for our work...


  1) To supply our family with what the basic needs of life are. Paul's admonishment to Timothy and Titus is ours also: "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"..."We must learn to devote ourselves to doing what is good, in order that we may provide for daily necessities, and not live unproductive lives" (1 Timothy 5.8 & Titus 3.14). "Make it your ambition to lead a quiet life, to mind your own business and to work with yourhands, just as we told you" (1 Thessalonians 4.11). "For even when we were with you, we gave you this rule: 'If a man will not work, he shall not eat.'" (2 Thessalonians 3.10).


  2) To help support the weak, the poor, the disenfranchised, those in need: "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" (Ephesians4.28)."You yourselves know that these hands of mine have supplied my own needs and the needs of my companions. 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’” (Acts20.34-35). "Religion that God our Father accepts as pure and faultless is this: to look after orphans and widows in their distress and to keep oneself from being polluted by the world" (James 1.27).


  3) To support the Gospel. Philippians 2.22 has Paul saying: "You know that Timothy has proved himself, because as a son with his father he has served with me in the work of the gospel." Paul and Timothy were serving the same Master, doing the same work. I think, like Timothy, we should work for the Gospel: Laboring in the Gospel, doing our part to preach, teach, share, exemplify, the Gospel by our own lifestyle. Plus, we should be open to using our work funds, salary, to support missions, those carrying the gospel to others.


  We probably need to mention some of the wrong work motives: Merely to make money or accumulate wealth is not a Scriptural motive. Jesus clearly says we cannot serve God and money, God and material stuff. We are warned against laying up treasures on earth rather than in Heaven. Scripture tells us that covetousness is wrong: "Put to death what is earthly in you: Sexual immorality, impurity, passion, evil desires, and greed (covetousness) which is idolatry" (Colossians 3.5).


  Well, while there are many different attitudes toward work, one thing remains constant: Work must be done. Ever since the Garden of Eden, mankind has worked, and we are all dependent upon our or someone else's work for our survival. So, let us work as if we were working for the Lord. Amen? "Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him"..."Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men" (Colossians 3.17 & 23).


—Randall Caselman