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What the Bible says about Desire to Work
(From Forerunner Commentary)

Exodus 20:9

The majority of people, even many retired folks, have at least some kind of work to do on a daily basis. All of our work should be done in the six days beginning at the Saturday sunset and ending at the Friday sunset that begins the following Sabbath Day. As well as giving further instructions regarding how we should properly observe God's Sabbath Day, this verse also indicates the work ethic that God's people should possess.

Staff

Related Topics: Desire to Work | Hard Work | Sabbath | Work Ethic


 

Matthew 5:3

People who are economically poor are well aware of their need. It is very likely that, if they pray at all, they pray for money, for prosperity. One does not need to have a revelation from God to see that kind of need. But what should the poor be praying for? They ought to be praying for the desire to work, for the understanding of their responsibility to their families, for the right kind of ambition that will motivate them, for the love that will make them lay down their lives to support their dependents, and for the drive that will energize them to find a job. These are the things God wants us to ask for because they are qualities that He has. By nature, we like to short-circuit the process and pray, "God, give me money. Give me a job." He would rather we ask for these other things, and He is far more likely to respond to us when we do.

The poor in spirit are the best prayers of all. Their title, "poor of spirit" or "poor in spirit," shows that they are people who properly evaluate themselves against God. They see how rich God is in terms of love, generosity, kindness, mercy, wisdom—all the good qualities—and they see how poor they are in comparison. Wanting to be like God, they askHim for the qualities He has. Those are the kinds of prayers God responds to. In contrast, the proud will not be good at praying because they are secure in themselves, unable to see their need.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Prayer and Fervency

2 Thessalonians 2:1-3

Paul likely included this so that the Thessalonians would understand that these are evidences that Christ's return is near, but it had not yet happened. There had not been a falling away, and the man of sin had not been revealed. Paul was gently giving them evidence by which they could evaluate that the return of Christ was not immediately around the corner. As they began to analyze it, this might have been quite discouraging to them. Nevertheless, in AD 51, the return of Christ was very much on the minds of church members.

In addition to this, II Thessalonians 3 deals with the issue that some in Thessalonica had quit their jobs because of misinterpreting Paul's sermons, and they became busybodies while waiting things out. This is not good.

On the one hand, we are to live our lives always anticipating Christ's imminent return, partly because we do not know when we will die and our judgment ends. On the other hand, we are also to live and work as though this world will never end. Since nobody knows when Christ will return, we are to do our jobs with all of our might, as Solomon says (Ecclesiastes 9:10), and because we serve the Lord Christ, as Paul writes (Colossians 3:24). We are to do every job as well as we can, not carelessly cutting corners, assuming that it will all blow away in just a year or so. Such an approach is not a godly attitude.

The people described in Thessalonians 3 were just waiting things out because they had it in their minds that Christ would return almost immediately. That is sheer presumptuousness, carelessness, that God certainly does not appreciate in His children, because that is how He does things. We are to imitate Him. We are to work as He does, and His handiwork is all around us. He does pretty good work! The things that He builds last. They are high-quality work.

In practical fact, there is a tension between the two extremes that must be balanced. Jesus says, "My Father has been working until now, and I have been working" (John 5:17). We are to imitate them materially and spiritually. Those simply waiting things out then were castigated, and time is not waiting for us either.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Trumpets Is a Day of Hope

2 Thessalonians 3:6-12

The result of their interpretation of an imminent return of Christ was that some of the more excitable ones quit their jobs. His return was one of the important and recurring subjects of conversations with them. They added to that by becoming busybodies—spending their time talking excitedly but doing no work—and so their minds were continually disturbed, excited, by what they thought were signs of the imminent return of Jesus Christ. They were convinced that the Day of the Lord was already happening, and in a very short time Christ Himself would make His appearance.

John W. Ritenbaugh
A Place of Safety? (Part 4)

2 Thessalonians 3:6

The "disorderly walking" was that they were not working. They were waiting it out until Christ returned. Paul called that a deviation from the traditions. God's children work, but these people were not working, slothfully waiting for Jesus to come back.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Unity (Part 5): Ephesians 4 (B)

2 Thessalonians 3:10-12

Commentators believe these brethren stopped working due to misunderstanding the nearness of Christ's return. Nonetheless, they were breaking the pattern of conduct set by Christ Himself and taught by the apostles. Jesus worked right up until He was crucified. Paul calls their conduct unacceptable and serious enough that those brethren who were patiently working should withdraw from those who quit (II Thessalonians 3:6)!

This example contains a practical truth about work that is not mentioned but is helpful to understand. Costs are tied to work, whether it is for the Lord or an employer, and not the least of these is sacrifice on the part of the laborer. Jesus teaches this in Matthew 16:24: “Then Jesus said to His disciples, 'If anyone desires to come after Me, let him deny himself, and take up his cross, and follow Me.'”

To be an active, producing Christian, Jesus says that, in laboring under and with Him, we must deny ourselves and then take up, carry, or bear up under whatever the cost may be. Thus, sacrifices are involved in Christian responsibilities, as well as in our day-to-day job, but Jesus particularly aims this comment about Christian works at His followers. Denying ourselves is required because the carnal nature is always present and invariably desires to take it easy and do the wrong things through ingrained habit. However, if we give in to this, profit in Christian life diminishes.

This we do not want because, without denying ourselves, life is guaranteed to be a failure. Recall how concerned Solomon was about profit. Life will be profitable if we do the right things, but sometimes, to do so we must literally will ourselves to do what is required. Sacrificing is the only means to accomplish what needs to be done.

John W. Ritenbaugh
Ecclesiastes and Christian Living (Part Two): Works


 




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