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Home The Light Articles from 2006 The Curse of Idleness

The Curse of Idleness

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God's plan, from the very beginning of time, calls for man to work. In God's dealings with man on earth, he placed man in the Garden of Eden "to dress it and to keep it" (Gen.2:15). After Adam's sin his work was more difficult. We read, ".. .cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life; Thorns also and thistles shall it bring form to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return" (Gen. 3:17-19).
From one end of the Bible to the other it is obvious that God approves the honorableness of work. In giving the Ten Commandments, God indicated this principle. For example, the fourth com­mandment reads, "Remember the Sabbath day, to keep it holy. Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work: But the seventh day is the Sabbath of the Lord thy God: in it thou shalt not do any work, thou, nor thy son, nor thy daugh­ter, thy manservant, nor thy maidservant, nor thy cattle, nor thy stranger that is within thy gates" (Exo. 20:8-10).
Most often, when we read this pas­sage we think of the day of rest and worship for the Jews. It is true that God intended for his children under the Law of Moses to reserve each Sabbath Day a holy day, just as he expects those of the Christian era to let the first day of the week be a day of worship. However, it is also quite clear that the other six days are to be given over to honorable, meaning­ful work. This is clearly declared in the sentence, "Six days thou shalt labor." The eighth commandment requires, "Thou shalt not steal." The tenth com­mandment teaches, "Thou shalt not covet thy neighbor's wife nor his man­servant nor his maidservant nor his ox nor his ass nor anything that is thy neigh­bors" (Exo. 20:15,17). Both of these passages show that mankind is not to take that which belongs to another, but is to provide for himself that which he needs. All this is in the context of put­ting God first, others second, and mate­rial things last. The apostle John wrote, "Love not the world, neither the things that are in the world. If any man love the world, the love of the Father is not in him" (1 John 2:15).
In Luke 12:15 Jesus said, "Take heed, and beware of covetousness: for a man's life consisteth not in the abun­dance of the things which he possesseth." Possessions are not to rule our lives. God comes first. After God, family and others, but there is a place for things. Honorable work has to do with these material possessions.
The Advantage of Work In Rearing Children
One brother related this interesting story about work: "My father believed that an idle brain was the devil's work­shop.”  He used everything at his disposal to see that I always had a job. One sum­mer a farmer hired me at one dollar per day to drive his tractor. I learned my own father was paying my salary just to keep me busy. At the time I thought my dad was just plain dumb.. .but it is easy to see now that a boy plowing from sunup to sundown could not get in much trouble. Work and trouble, like gasoline and water, just do not mix." Judge Leon McCord, in his book I Believe in Man made these penetrating observa­tions out of his rich background of expe­rience: "For twelve years I have been committing men and women to penal institutions. In that time nearly every crime worth the naming has walked into the courthouse where I work. I have often been called upon to name the mother of crime. I answer without hesitation-idleness. Nine out of every ten criminals, long before they arm themselves with pistols and blackjacks, jimmies and nitroglycerin, carry, con­cealed about their persons, idleness. Our penal institutions are being filled today by men and women, a large majority of whom do not know how to work and have never worked. They were idlers and loafers before they were criminals.
"An army of splendid children is just now marching through public schools. If so minded, one can easily pick out from that long line the coming failures. You have only to select the ones who have no tasks to perform, no work to do when school is out. It is not enough that they know their lessons, make the grades, and pass. All this is good, but an education is not complete unless one knows how to work both mentally and physically; how to hold to the task when it grows hard, when the hours seem long, and the body cries out for rest and repose. The boys, who know the value of a holiday off, who have toiled until bitter bread seems sweet, will be the ones who will take the places of responsibility in the future. They will not be found before the jury. Work and prayer—this is an unbeatable combination, one that will enable a man to see clearly that God is the Great Pro­vider of our every need."
Scriptures
Paul wrote, ".. .but we beseech you, brethren, that ye increase more and more; And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing" (1 Thess. 4:10-12).
The quiet, solid life involves working with the hands in order that Christians may be well respected by those outside the church and also that Christians may have need of nothing. Again Paul wrote, "For yourselves know how ye ought to follow us: for we behaved not ourselves disorderly among you; Neither did we eat any man's bread for nought; but wrought with labour and travail night and day, that we might not be chargeable to any of you: Not because we have not power, but to make ourselves an en-sample unto you to follow us. For even when we were with you, this we com­manded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat. For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread" (2 Thes.3:7-12). While at Corinth Paul labored with Aquilla and Priscilla making tents, sup­porting himself rather than being a bur­den upon the brethren. Honorable work is always commended in the Scriptures. In 2 Thessalonians 3:10, we find the emphatic sentence "If any would not work, neither should he eat." This means that every able-bodied, mentally capable person should work—the wives and chil­dren at home, the man at his work to earn a living. This is God's will. Yet again Paul wrote of the man, "But if anyone does not provide for his own, and especially for those of his house­hold, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel" (1 Tim. 5:8). By honorable work men are to support ourselves and our families.
Five Basic Values of Work
Let me point out five basic values of good, honest, productive work.
1.) Work provides the necessities of life. For ourselves and for others, honest work will provide food, clothing, shelter, and the other necessities of life. The worker even has something to share with those who are in need. Remember the words "Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his hands the thing that is good, that he may have where of to give to him that hath need" (Ephesians 4:28).
2.) Work, renders a service to others. The farmer, the manufacturer, the merchant, the doctor, and countless others provide necessary services for their fellowmen.
3.) Work brings personal maturity and development. The pioneers who settled the great American continent were hard working people who felled trees, cleared land, planted crops, built houses, and all the rest.   They grew and developed through their hard work.
4.) Work prevents the temptations of idleness. Those who are busy doing some constructive work do not have time to fall into the temptations that have caused so many people to succumb. Hard work­ing people are generally honest, thrifty, God-fearing, moral, and usually free from the weaknesses of those who are gener­ally idle.
5.) Work brings satisfaction. There are few joys as deeply satisfying as a job well done, especially when that job is a bene­fit to God or one's fellowmen.
Conclusion
Even the matter of being saved involves doing something. We can never earn our salvation. Salvation is God's gift. Christ said, "So likewise ye, when ye shall have done all those things which are commanded you, say, We are un­profitable servants: we have done that which was our duty to do" (Luke 17:10). Paul also wrote, "... For by grace are you saved, through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not of works lest any man should boast" (Eph. 2:8,9). This is true, and the fact remains that mere is something that we must do in order to be saved. There are certain conditions upon which the Lord, by grace, will give us salvation. Faith in God and in His Son Jesus Christ is one condi­tion we must meet. There must also be repentance from our past sins, the con­fession of the name of our Lord, and the putting on of Christ in baptism.
Over and over, the New Testament indicates that these acts are our part in becoming Christians. After being born into God's family we must live and work as Christians. Ultimately, we all look forward to hearing our Lord say, "Well done, good and faithful servant; thou hast been faithful over a few things, I will make thee ruler over many things; enter thou into the joy of thy Lord" (Matt. 25:21). The book of Revelation has these words: "Blessed are the dead which die in the Lord from henceforth: Yea, saith the Spirit, that they may rest from their labours-; and their works do follow them" (Rev. 14:13). -Adapted
 

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