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Thursday, 15 October 2015

The Great - and Gospel - Value of Work

Created to Work
Adam and Eve were placed in a Garden  to work it and take care of it (Gen 2:15), as well as to enjoy it. They were created workers as well as enjoyers. There is something amiss in our lives if we are only enjoyers and not workers, takers only rather than workers too.

In one sense all work is gardening - all true work involves taking the raw materials around us (homes, fields, cloth, iron, etc.) and using our God given gifts of creativity to produce something beautiful and beneficial (homes that are functioning and warm, objects of art or usefulness, etc.).

After the fall work became somewhat laborious, but it is still in God's plan that all should work. Work brings in wealth and hard work leads to influence.

For a believer, work takes on new and greater significance. Our work is one way we please and serve the Lord (Col 2:23), and our work is one way we witness to the world (Matt 5:16, 1 Pet 2:12). Before we open our mouths and share the Gospel, unbelievers should have already noted the quality and faithfulness of our work.

The effects of Laziness
In Solomon's Proverbs, there are few human states more pitied (and frankly ridiculed) than laziness. Solomon even invents a word to describe the lazy man: "sluggard" is his name. The sluggard is slow by definition, does little work and is often found sleeping - the snooze button on his alarm clock is worn out. Four particular perils await the lazy man.

1. The lazy man ends up poor (6:10-11). This is not right-wing politics, it is a law of nature.

2. The lazy man's life is just plain old difficult. His path is blocked with thorns (15:19). This is a deep truth, but since we were designed to work, not working has profound consequences upon us physically, socially, mentally and bodily. For example, a lazy man will have too much time to spare and may end up a busybody, end up bitter as he ponders small offences which the working man has soon forgot, or end up addicted to sins that he has had too much time to think about and nurture.

3. The lazy man harms other. He is brother to a vandal (18:9), because through his slack work, people who buy his poor products are endangered. Captain Scott's ship "The Endeavour" was dogged by a leak deep down in the ship which could well have been created by a lazy man who knew his slack work would never be detected (Captain Scott beleived that's where the leak came from).

4. The lazy man's character is eventually corrupted. A lazy man with far too much time to think ends up building a fantasy world of his own, which becomes, as the years pass, more and more sureal and unreal. He finds himself making ridiculous excuses as to why he can't work (22:13, 26:13) - there's a lion outside, or a murderer in the street. The whole of his character is corrupted and he ends up living in his own fantasy world, no less fictional than Assassin's Creed.

Laziness is a sin, and will lead not only to financial ruin but spiritual ruin too, for to grow as a believer requires us to work out our salvation with fear and trembling. The Gospel is able to cure this terrible sin and give to a lazy man the power to labour and to restore him to the world of work. 

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