Wednesday, May 14, 2014

Enjoying the Fruits of Their Labors

 Several days ago, our daughter posted some pictures of her family picking blueberries which I used in my last devotion.  It was a hot day, but they were blessed by their time together.  Then, yesterday, I saw pictures of our grandchildren eating the fruit of their labors.  There they were enjoying a homemade blueberry pie.  I couldn't help but smile because this is exactly what God made us for.  We glorify Him by working and we have the privilege of enjoying Him forever by tasting the fruits of our labor.
     In the book of Genesis 2:15, we read:  "The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it."  The footnote which explains this verse says:  "Work was an important and dignified part of representing the image of God and serving Him, even before the Fall" (The MacArthur Study Bible ESV pg. 20).  From the beginning, God made man in His image and gave him work to do.  A short time later when Adam and Eve fall into sin, God still expected man to work, but now, it will be more complicated.  God told man (Genesis 3:17b-19a)"....cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field.  By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread..."  We learn from this passage that man will continue to make his living by working the ground which would produce for him all that he needed; however, the work would be harder.  Nevertheless, we have been created to work.
     Unfortunately, one of the things I see in our society today are those who do not want to work.  There has been a rise in people claiming disability and drawing their income from the government.  It is true that there are individuals who are unable to hold a full time job as a result of injury or illness but I am speaking here of those who feign disability for the sake of being able to draw an unearned income.  A good example came across our T.V. set a while back when a boy scout leader and his friend had gone out to Goblin Valley State Park in Utah and filmed themselves pushing over a boulder in a protected sandstone formation.  They said they thought the boulder looked dangerous so they were going to push it down for safety reasons.  Sadly for them, the video went viral, they were dismissed as Boy Scout leaders and they face charges.  Yet, the part that really got to me was the fact that the man pushing the boulder had claimed disability.  If you are disabled, how can you push a boulder over?
     On the flip side, I know an individual who worked hard most of his life.  He was a polio survivor who could have claimed disability due to his crippling, but he chose not to.  Instead, he worked successfully for many years as a police dispatcher.  He enjoyed it and was much appreciated for his efforts.  The point here is that God made us for work.  We find joy when we have an opportunity to serve God and others by finding labor that is God honoring.
     Scripture makes it clear that if we do not work, we should not eat.  2 Thessalonians 3:10-12 reads: "For even when we were with you, we would give you this command; if anyone is not willing to
work, let him not eat.  For we hear that some among you walk in idleness, not busy at work, but busybodies.  Now such persons we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living."  Paul's words here were not suggestions.  This was a command. Certainly, the Puritans believed strongly in the work ethic and when our nation was founded, this was a bedrock of belief.  Today, however, this is not what we see in our pleasure seeking, leisure time focussed society.  A nation where more and more people are living off of someone else's hard work will not long survive.
     Teaching the work ethic to our children both at home and in school is important.  Their growth, satisfaction in life and their service to God and others not only helps them put food on the table for their family but also gives them dignity as one who is made in the image of God.
     Our daughter and son-in-law taught a very valuable lesson to their children.  If you work at picking the berries, then, you can enjoy the fruit of your labor by eating the pie.   Work may take effort and may not always be enjoyable, but the rewards, whether in a paycheck or a pie, are worth it. Let us live in obedience to the Lord in this area of our lives and embrace the call to work before the Lord.  Selah!

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