I was watching an old TV show the other day where the son of a very influencial and corrupt man was claiming that he was a converted Christian. The son had lived a rather corrupt life, himself, and spent several years in prison. But now he was released prison and, like the prodigal son in the Bible, had returned home to show his parents that he was a new man, reborn as a devout believer.
The ex-con confessed his old ways and his mother readily accepted his conversion. But it took more time to convince his dad of the change. The son quoted scripture to him, did odd jobs around the house that he’d never do before, said how he regretted his former way of life, and that he was now starting to go to church to pray and worship.
The truth was, however, it was all a scam. The son had not really changed. In fact, while he was going to such great lengths to show his “conversion” he was actually in cahoots with some rather shady characters. His motive? To bring down his dad for, of all things, it was on account of him that the son went to prison in the first place. And now the son was using his “conversion” to trick his dad and land him into trouble with these other characters.
To me, this story illustrates how much hard work it takes, even when it comes to doing the wrong things. Now that Labor Day (a.k.a. Labour Day as the Canadians spell it) is around the corner, we think of workers and the hard work they do. But what about those who work hard at things in which the Bible doesn’t necessarily approve?
For example, thinking of that TV show…. There is the hard work people put in to tricking and deceiving others. There is the hard work that it takes to get others into trouble, to get even, to make fake impressions, and twist the truth. Then, there’s the hard work that’s put into stealing from others, making shady deals, taking advantage of innocent persons, and terrorizing others.
Speaking of that…NEWS FLASH…would you believe that even as I am writing these very words, I just now got a scam phone call??? It was a recorded message telling me that my social security number was suspended and that a warrant was put out for my arrest? I immediately hung up for I’ve heard of such scams.
Devious persons work hard, like the scammers trying to trick me. They plan, they scheme, they lie, they cheat, they steal, they risk everything even at the expense of everyone else to get what they so lustfully desire. They truly try so very hard to get by with their crime. But this is not the kind of work that is sanctioned by God according to his Word.
God’s Word condemns evil work but commends good work. Hard, honest work is an honor for it honors God, who himself, sets the pattern of goodness and righteousness. As it says in James 1:17, “Every good thing given and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights, with whom there is no variation or shifting shadow,” (New American Standard Bible, NASB). God doesn’t change and this includes his principles toward having a good work ethic.
For God rewards those who work hard at doing good but he also rewards those who work hard at doing evil. God rewards the good workers but punishes the evil workers. If we are good hard workers, we will receive God’s blessings but not so with those troublemakers who work hard at being dishonest, lazy, and right down evil.
Get a load of the following passages…
- Genesis 2:1-3. God worked for 6 days and saw that everything was good (Genesis 1:31), then he rested—that is, he ceased from his work—on the seventh day and made it holy.
- Gen. 3:16-19. Due to the disobedience of Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden when they sinned, what was once delightful, trouble-free work (Gen. 2:15) became dreadful and miserable, “by the sweat of the brow.”
- Ecclesiastes 1:3, 14; 2:11; 4:8. Solomon takes a dim, yet realistic view of human labor and concludes, “All is vanity.” Everything thing in this life is only temporary, including our works. In the end, we all die, go to the grave, and turn back into the dust from which we were created (Eccl. 3:20).
- Eccl. 9:5-10. Even when you die, after all your work is done, you can’t take it with you. So whatever work you do in this life, you’d better make sure you do your level best to make it count for something.
- Proverbs 14:22-24. There are two ways to deal with hard work: (1) You can try to get around it by plotting something morally wrong, or (2) You can approach hard work wisely through constructiveness and a positive attitude.
- Proverbs 4:14-17; 13:11. We are to abstain from working hard in all forms of wickedness. Wickedness is anything that is immoral and goes against God’s will and way Isaiah 1:4; 2 Timothy 3:1-9; Jude 5-19).
- Proverbs 13:4; 18:9-11; 20:13; 2 Thessalonians 3:10. God favors those who are industrious but he doesn’t like “couch potatoes.” Those who are too lazy to work (a.k.a., “sluggards”) will end in poverty. On the other hand, those who work hard and do what’s right will prosper.
- Prov. 6:7-8; 10:4-5; 12:24; 28:19-20; 2 Timothy 2:6-7. God will bless those who labor diligently, unselfishly, and honorably without complaining too much (Philippians 2:14-16).
- Matthew 25:14-30; Luke 19:12-28; John 5:25-29; Daniel 12:2. Good, God-fearing workers who go about serving and helping others will be richly rewarded in view of God’s future Kingdom. But those who do not apply themselves in this manner by going against God’s instructions will face his wrath (Rev. 20:11-15; 21:8; 22:12).
- 1 Timothy 5:13-15; 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12; 2 Thess. 3:6-14. God wants his followers to mind their own business, work with their own hands, and not work as busybodies interfering with others’ lives.
- Romans 12-11-12; 1 Corinthians 10:31; Colossians 3:17, 23-24. God favors those who serve him by laboring according to his standards. Whatever work we do, our priority as believers is to do it for his glory and praise. A Christian is not a worker who leaves his or her duties at the church door. Rather, a Christian’s work goes wherever he or she goes, the mission field: at home, on the job, in the marketplace, and every other place one goes. “Do ALL to the glory of God.”
- Matt. 9:37-38; Luke 10:2-16; John 4:35-36. Whatever a Christian’s occupation, we want to remember how important it is to “occupy” until Jesus comes (Luke 19:13)—that is, to be laborers of the Lord’s harvest (Matt. 20:1-16), winning others to the Good News of Jesus Christ and God’s coming Kingdom. For that is the most rewarding of any hard work we’ll ever do.
May you have a safe and happy Labo(u)r Day!
And Good News to YOU!
Here is Robin Mark performing, “Days of Elijah.” Please note the words,
And these are the days of the harvest,
The fields are as white in Your world,
And we are the laborers in Your vineyard,
Declaring the Word of the Lord.