Sermon:  The Working Christian

Summary:   Labor Day is set aside to celebrate the value and dignity of work.  
The Bible has some concrete things to teach us about work.  Work is not a 
curse, but part of our created purpose so that we can serve God.  The curse 
is increase hardship, not work.  In fact, work is a reflection of the God who 
has been working from the beginning.  By design, work brings various benefits 
to others and us.  This does not mean that rest is bad.  Idleness is bad but 
rest is good, endorsed, and even instructed by God.

Text:  Various

Scripture Reading:  Prov 24:30-34

1.  It is holiday weekend, many enjoying time off, some still had to work
2.  Labor Day been around a long time
	a.  1st Labor Day parade was on Sep 5th, 1882 in New York City
		- 20,000 workers carried banners that said - Labor Creates Wealth, 
		  8 hours for work, 8 hours for sleep, 8 hours for recreation
		- This was the desired situation for all people
		- After parade, picnics all over with Irish stew, bread, apple pie
		- Ended the day with fireworks
	b.  The idea spread across the country, cities all over having labor day
	c.  1894, congress made Labor Day a Federal Holiday
	d.  Purpose:  A day set aside celebrate the value and dignity of work
3.  We might not be thinking of this on a weekend like this
	a.  Most of us probably just glad to have some time off
	b.  For many, this is a transition from summer to fall routine
4.  We will look at some of what the Bible teaches us about work

I.  Work is not a curse
	A.  Somewhere, many got mistaken idea that work is a curse
		1.  For many, the ideal situation is a life of leisure
		2.  Some have even idealized Heaven as place of leisure on clouds
		3.  This is not a biblical idea
	B.  Go back to the beginning at look at God's design (Gen 2:15)
		1.  Remember that this is before sin came into the world
			-  This is the ideal, before there was any corruption
		2.  God put the man in the garden to work
			a.  In this ideal situation, man didn't lounge around all day
			b.  There was work to be done
			c.  (Gen 1:26-28) - Even in chapter one, God gave man a job
		3.  In our ideal state, no sin, no corruption, there is a job to do
			a.  Means that work is not inherently negative thing
			b.  We were designed to work, create, design, maintain, 
			c.  So why don't we enjoy work more?  Why detest it?
		4.  (Gen 3:16-19) - Labor, pain, hardship, all because of sin
			a.  As years go by, body wears out, work is very hard
			b.  Eventually, bodies die, no longer function
			c.  You see, the curse is labor, not work
				- Hard, backbreaking, sweaty labor is the curse
				- Work is not a curse
	C.  ILL:  May have heard saying, "I owe, I owe, its off to work I go"
		1.  For so many, that is the best reason to muster for going to work
		2.  There is little joy or satisfaction, a necessary evil
		3.  A poll show only 43% of office workers satisfied with job
		4.  In Japan, only 17% satisfied with job
	D.  Need to remember, this is not because work is bad, but it is sin
		1.  Sin twisted and distorted everything
		2.  Work is good; it was what we were designed for
		3.  **In fact, not working does not glorify God . . .

II.  Good Work is a reflection of God
	A.  Does God sit around and do absolutely nothing?  Of course not!
	B.  God has been active from the beginning
		1.  (Jn 5:17) - My father working until now, and I myself am working
			a.  God has not sat idly by doing nothing
			b.  Jesus, the perfect reflection of God, is God, also working
			c.  We, created in the image of God, also work, reflect God
			d.  This why Jesus said we must work the works of God as 
			      long as it is day,  Jn 9:4.
		2.  Need to realize that work, not idleness, is the glory of God
		3.  Paul gave Christians a way to grasp the glory of work (Tit 2:10)
			a.  Faithful Christian workers adorn the doctrine of God 
			b.  Reflect the very character of God.  Things such as
				- Goodness - Honesty, faithfulness, integrity
				- Excellence - God not produce junk, we don't either
				- Beauty - God is creative, beautiful, we do as well
		4.  We reflect goodness, excellence, beauty of God in how we work
	C.  All of our tasks, jobs, work is service to God
		1.  ILL:  Martin Luther understood this - "The maid who sweeps her 
			kitchen is doing the will of God just as much as the monk who 
			prays -- not because she may sing a Christian hymn as she sweeps 
			but because God loves clean floors.  The Christian shoemaker does 
			his Christian duty not by putting little crosses on his shoes, but 
			by making good shoes because God is interested in good craftsmanship."
		2.  Is this true?  Is God concerned about good craftsmanship?
			a.  Take a look at the world around us!
				- Intricate design of the wings of birds so can fly
				- The remarkable engineering of the eye to see
				- Sun just the right distance and size
				- Moon just right size, distance, speed for tides
			b.  All kinds of remarkable craftsmanship in the world
			c.  Aren't you Glad God a good craftsman?
				- I shudder to think what kind of world without it
				- Can you imagine if due to design or construction 
				   flaw, water caught fire, or jump & not come down?
			c.  If God concerned with good craftsmanship, we should be
	D.  We reflect the character of God in how we do our work
		1.  This why I remind young people - School is service to God
			a.  Not just by moral behavior
			b.  Also by doing your best and getting good grades
			c.  When study, do homework, get excellent grades . . .
			d.  This is a reflection on family, church, and God
		2.  When you go to work and get a job, it is the same thing
			a.  Not only your moral character, but how you do job
			b.  When work faithfully, do job well, reflection of God
		3.  Good work is a reflection of the God we serve

III.  There are benefits to good work
	A.  This is by design
		1.  People usually do not benefit from idleness
		2.  Usually idleness brings all kinds of trouble with it
	B.  Here is what the Bible says
		1.  Prov 10:4 - Lit:  "Poor is a worker of a hand of slackness, 
		     but the hand of the diligent makes rich
			a.  Various translations:  Slack hand, lazy, negligent, slothful
			b.  Syn: Apathetic, careless, idle, inattentive, indifferent, 
			     lethargic, lackadaisical, procrastinating
			c.  So, if careless, lazy, idle - Will always be in want
			d.  Interesting translational note
				- Hebrew, Remiyah, slackness, also means deceit
				- Word used for "deceptive scales" - dishonest
				- Makes me think of cutting corners, cheating on tests
				- If lazy, cheat at work, or at school, catch up to you
		2.  So, by God's design, you get a return for your labor
		3.  In fact, so important there is a rule (1 Thess 3:7-12)
			a.  God does not condone idleness
			b.  Even the provision for the poor did not come without work
			c.  (Lev 19:9-10) Not to harvest to edge of field
				- Why?  Leave it for the poor and Alien
				- Did not say give hand out
			d.  Work preserves their dignity, and dignity of work
		4.  There are benefits to work
	C.  ILL:  The sage uses the ant as an example (Prov 6:6-11)
		1.  No chief, no ruler - No one has to tell them what to do
			a.  They know what needs to be done and do it
			b.  They do not need a foreman to keep them focused
		2.  I remember a huge ant hill by our door when I was little
			a.  Kicked it destroyed it, get rid of ants!
			b.  Following day, guess what was there again?  Anthill
			c.  They are diligent, gathering, working, digging
		3.  When lean times come, winter hits, they have all they need
		4.  If not work, poverty and need like an armed man
			a.  Nothing you can do to resist
			b.  If not working all along, can't resist
	D.  There is definitely benefit to good days work
		1.  But the benefit not just personal (Eph 4:28)
			a.  (Eph 4:28) Work with hands, performing what is good.
			b.  Why?  So have something to share with those in need
			c.  When work hard, benefits others
		2.  There is personal benefit, family, and even societal benefit
		3.  Everyone pitches in, does their share of the work = blessing
		4.  **Can enjoy the benefits of work only by working . . .

IV.  Rest is good after work
	A.  Don't want to leave impression that rest is bad
	B.  Like work, rest also is a reflection of God
		1.  After God worked in creating the world, what did he do?
		2.  God himself rested - Does God get exhausted?
			a.  I don't think so
			b.  God's rest may be like an artist that sits back and enjoys 
			     his painting after he is finished
		3.  God's rest is also a model for us, Ex 20:11
			a. He set apart the 7th day for Israel as a day of rest
			b. This was to be for their good, not a burden to them
			c.  Everyone and every animal to rest
			d. It was to be a day of remembrance, reflection, and refocus
				- Were to remember God freed from slavery, Dt 5:15
				- Were to remember they redeemed TO God
				- Life not about accumulation of things, but about God
		4.  Yes, the Mosaic law not apply to Christians
			a.  It was foundation for the covenant through Christ
			b.  But even though Sabbath done away, need for it is not
			c.  Not good physically, emotionally, or spiritually to run on 
			     all cylinders all the time.
	C.  ILL:  Need to have times of rest built into our schedule
		1.  It does not mean you are lazy, even God rested
		2.  Read an article about Americans
			a.  Compared to Europe, American manufacturing 
			     employees work 320 more hours a year than European 
			b.  Could reproduce 1948 standard of living in half the work 
			     time today, ie: Four hour work days, three or four day 
			     weekends, work 6 months out of the year, etc.
			c.  In USA, amount of time worker works a year steadily 
			     climbed, bring more productivity and wealth
			d.  Standard of living has increased dramatically 
		3.  Price paid:
			a.  Many many stress related diseases
			b.  Family stress, child-neglect, disconnect in families
			c.  Two income families because threshold for what is 
			     necessary has risen
			d.  Lack of necessary amount of sleep
			e.  Life has become rushed, even leisure activities rushed
		4.  This illustrates the need for times of rest from work
	D.  Idleness is bad, rest is good and approved by God
		1.  Make sure you are taking time for rest
		2.  Use it to revitalize, reconnect, and reflect

1.  So, work is full of the dignity and glory of God
2.  It not a curse, it a reflection of God, it is beneficial, rest is good after work
3.  God created us to serve him through the works of our hand
4.  Whether engineer, or sweep floors, we all have place in his kingdom
5.  Do your best, as to the Lord, it honors God
6.  God is not so unjust as to forget your work you do in his honor