A Good 4-Letter Word

Work has been ordained of God for the good of mankind. Solomon asked the question, “Seest thou a man diligent in his work?” Then the wise king said, “He shall stand before kings.” (Provs. 22:29)

One wag said of work: “There is nothing that concerns man so much as work. It is something that when we have it, we wish we didn’t; when we don’t have it, we wish we did; and the object of most of it is to be able to one day afford to do none of it.”

But, as long as we live, God has a job for us to do! The fact that you are still alive is proof that your work here is not yet done. Charles Spurgeon said, “Remember, you are immortal ‘til your work is done. If the Lord has more witness for you to bear, then you will have to bear it. Who is he that can break the vessel which the Lord intends again to use?”

In Ecclesiastes 9:10, Solomon exhorts: “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, or device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest.” Three things should be noted:

  1. That work is profitable—physically, mentally, emotionally and spiritually.

Sir Walter Scott’s biographer wrote of him: “He could toil terribly.” It was reported that Scott had on the face of his watch the verse, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.”

Not only is work profitable, it is honorable.  All honest work is honorable!  Digging ditches, sweeping chimneys, cleaning house, sitting on a court bench, making or selling cars, farming, hauling garbage, banking, waiting on tables, serving in health-care, and more! “There is no difference between the secular and the sacred. Every bush is a burning bush, and all ground is holy ground.” Plowing corn is as honorable as preaching Christ if it is the job God has given you to do!

2. That work should be done with enthusiasm.

“And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily as to the Lord, and not unto men.” (Col.3:23) Paul admonishes that we should be “not slothful in business; fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” (Romans 12:11)

Can you imagine Jonah preaching to Nineveh without passion, “Yet 40 days and Nineveh shall be overthrown?”

Or, John the Baptist without enthusiasm preaching “the Kingdom of Heaven is at hand?

Or, the Israelites, nonchalantly in chorus singing, just having come through the Red Sea, “The Lord is my strength and song: and He is become my salvation….” (Ex.15:2 ff.)

Or, Jesus coming to the Temple and—finding that it had become a den of thieves—saying without fervor, “Take these things hence; make not my Father’s House a House of merchandise!

I think of Peter, in John 21, seeing Jesus on the sea shore, jumping into the water to go to meet again His risen Lord.  Talk about being excited; he barely got his fisher’s coat around him before he jumped to Jesus! And, in the Old Testament, on a mission for God, Jehu calling out to King Jehonadab, “Come with me and see my zeal for the Lord!” (2 Ki.10:16) So, whatever we put our hands do, if it is honorable work, done in the will of and for the glory of God, we should do with enthusiasm with all our might.

3. Finally, in the spirit of Solomon’s wise exhortation, we should do our work understanding that there will not always be the time nor the opportunity to do what needs to be done.

“And that knowing the time, that now it is high time to awake out of sleep; for now is our salvation nearer than when we believed.” (Romans 13:11) The great educational reformer and abolitionist Horace Mann said, “I have never heard anything about the resolutions of the Apostles, but I have heard a great deal about the Acts of the Apostles.”

A godly deacon in a church I pastored came home tired one evening from climbing utility poles and repairing and replacing lines. He told me, “The moment I got stretched out comfortably on the couch, the Lord brought to my mind a person who was in a downtown hospital that I knew needed to accept Christ. I left my resting place, made my way downtown, visited the patient who, upon hearing the gospel again, got saved.” I have never forgotten Henry’s personal testimony to me about how important it was to serve “knowing the time….” Henry was a very humble layman and would have never shared that story for any commendation on his part, but he evidently was prompted to share it with his pastor; and, I have been encouraged by it many times to leave what I wanted to do and to do what I needed to do.

“And let the beauty of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish Thou the work of our hands upon us; yea, the work of our hands establish Thou it.” (Ps. 90:17)

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