No Place for Idleness
Our job as Christians is to be about our Father’s business. We ask God to bless our efforts but are we willing to work? This is what we are here for. In body and in spirit, by life or by death, by what we do and by what we do not do, whether we eat or drink, our business is to glorify God.
The average Christian today is flabby for lack of effort. We do not hear much about the Protestant Work Ethic these days. For one thing, we have been conditioned to think that anyone who works more than 8 hours a day is “over-worked” and requires “over-time pay.” A sense of diligence is fast disappearing from us.
It is hard work to serve the Lord. The ancient Hebrews had little time for leisure. Their’s was a culture that put a premium on industry. “Six days shalt thou work,” their Book said. Jesus employed an agricultural metaphor when He said, “Work for the night is coming,” implying that working from dawn to setting sun is normal.
Paul says we are to love and esteem our leaders in the church “because of their work” (1 Thess. 5:13). In the same passage he describes church leaders as those who “diligently labor among you.” These men (yes, a team of laborers is in view, not a single pastor) toil and strain together to the point of weariness and exhaustion. The apostle Paul himself tells us that his normal practice was to provide his own food, clothing, and lodging through his own manual labor (1 Thess. 2:9; 1 Cor. 9:4-6). He labored “both night and day.” Like His Lord (see Mark 3:20-21), Paul was an arduous laborer.
The tragedy of these times is that we lack an adequate work ethic. Laziness – pure, unadulterated laziness – often characterizes the evangelical church. If nothing else, our preachers’ pouches provide sufficient testimony to our gluttonous, slothful lifestyles. But laziness is incompatible with the way of the cross. We need only recall Paul’s exhortations in Philippians to “work,” “run,” and “labor” (Phil. 2:12, 16). Paul himself “pressed on,” straining forward with every fiber of his being, to attain the prize (Phil. 3:14). Like a runner in a race, he concentrates on one, and only one, objective. There was no place for idleness in Paul’s life.
We were created in Christ Jesus for good works (Eph. 2:10). Why, then, do we make a Santa Claus of God when it is we who should give Him our very best gifts? At our farm we have no time for TV or the hectic bustle of Christmas. Our work for the Lord lasts from sunup to sundown. Indeed, we find our leisure in the rhythm of serving Jesus together (Matt. 11:28). Whether it is tending to His herds, or erecting fencing, or sowing crops, or cutting out flannelgraph, or producing materials for our missions trips, or preparing biblical messages, we are learning to adopt a sacrificial lifestyle that has little place for private leisure. I believe the “rest” of which Christ speaks could not possibly have been closer to the true nature of leisure. It is being co-yoked with Him. This is not work for work’s sake. It is work for the kingdom of God. Such work, our Lord said, is easy.
Our Lord was always about His Father’s business. He told His disciples, “I must work the works of the One who sent Me” (John 9:4). Today, His business is our business as Christians. By God’s grace, let us not be infiltrated by the values of our leisure-crazed society. Let us use the abilities and energies God has given us in such a way that when we come into the presence of the Holy Judge our works shall abide (1 Cor. 3:10-15).
November 29, 2005
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.