My message today is a bit of a personal one. But I think it’s important that I share this with you, my friends, readers and radio listeners.
The Bible talks a great deal about work. It’s clear that God created us for a purpose and gave each of us an occupation to work at. Not just to occupy our time or merely to earn a living, but to use our skills, talents and abilities for the glory of God. In Genesis 2, we are told that God placed man in the Garden “to WORK it, and keep it.” To care for the Garden and all its inhabitants, enjoying all the beauty and splendor of Creation, which must have been so magnificent, we can’t even comprehend it today.
But after man sinned and fell from grace, there were consequences, and things certainly became more difficult. In Genesis 3, God declared to Adam, “…cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee, and thou shalt eat the herb of the field. In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, ‘til thou return unto the ground…”
The Lord had provided the perfect home for Adam and Eve — they “had it all,” — but they chose, instead, to listen to the lying voice of the serpent, the enemy of our souls, the one who hates all those created in the image of God. And as a result, life would be a struggle from now on, and after a lifetime of struggle, toil and hard work, death would come, just as God said it would.
This earth and all its inhabitants now must endure hardship — and death comes more quickly than it once did. Instead of living for hundreds of years, today, the life expectancy for women is 75; 70 years for men. And since the fall of mankind, our work has been hard, but not without reason or purpose. Though it’s clear we MUST work, we’re also ENCOURAGED, throughout Scripture, regarding our work. We’re encouraged to always do our very best, to work hard, to provide for our families and loved ones, and so that we may be able to bless and give to others in need, glorifying God.
Psalm 90:17, “Let the favor of the Lord our God be upon us, and establish the work of our hands upon us, yes, establish the work of our hands!” Proverbs 12:11, “Whoever works his land will have plenty of bread, but he who follows worthless pursuits lacks sense.” Proverbs 14:23, “In all toil there is profit, but mere talk tends only to poverty.” Proverbs 22:29, “Do you see a man skillful in his work? He will stand before kings; he will not stand before obscure men.” Ecclesiastes 9:10, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…”
Paul wrote to the Colossians, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” To the Thessalonians, he wrote, “…if anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.”
Yes, work is essential, but it should also be a blessing, IF we submit our hearts to God. He established the work we would do, even before we were born; and as faithful servants of our Creator, we are to do our very best in all things, working as unto the Lord… working hard, not cutting corners, not being slothful or careless, and at all times, we are to be mindful that the unbelieving world around us is watching. The way we work, the service we provide to others, as we endeavor to do our very best in all things, is a testimony to our character and a reflection of God in us. We’re also to constantly be working to do better, to STUDY, to be teachable, to strive for learning and wisdom and knowledge so that we can continue to grow as ministers (servants) of Christ.
2 Timothy 2:15, “Study to show thyself approved, a workman who need not be ashamed, rightly dividing the Word of Truth.”
“And as we live our lives as Christ-followers, we’re also to remember the words of Jesus in Matthew 5: “…let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father, who is in heaven.”
Why am I discussing this topic today? I guess a couple of reasons. First, there are many today who would choose — once again — to listen to the lies of the enemy and choose NOT to work. Since the recent “stimulous package,” I hear all the time now, how people are “MAKING” so much more money on unemployment than they ever did working. In reality, they are not “MAKING” anything… they are creating NOTHING. They are providing no service, they are doing no work and producing no product. They’re simply CONSUMING, eating from the hand of Big Brother. I’m reminded of the picture of the dead mouse in a trap, with the caption that read: “He didn’t understand why the cheese was ‘free.’”
Those who choose not to work refer to this additional income they’re getting from the government as “BENEFITS.” (But the last I checked, “benefits” were part of a wage package one receives from an EMPLOYER. You need to have A JOB to earn “benefits.”) But more and more lately, the “free stuff” is being considered an “entitlement.” Let me remind you what Scripture says: “If anyone is not willing to work, let him not eat.” THAT is biblical. Government handouts are NOT. On the contrary, those “benefits” so many enjoy, those “entitlements” are simply more lies of the evil one, conditioning us for the planned socialist New World Order. Those “benefits” are designed to lure us into bondage and slavery to the Almighty State. So beware. The “cheese” really ISN’T “free”!
Now I understand there are those who, for medical or other reasons, CANNOT work, and they need assistance. And I’m not being critical of those who truly NEED help to survive and live because of circumstances beyond their control. Most of the people I’ve met in situations like that would dearly LOVE to be ABLE to work and provide for themselves and their families, but they can’t, and I empathize with them. But Biblically, it should be the CHURCH ministering to those in need. It should be individual Christ-followers providing help and assistance, serving them in Jesus’ name. NOT the government.
When a person is ministered to, blessed and served in the name of Christ, there’s gratitude, humility — and quite often, a softened heart toward the things of God. On the other hand, when one receives their “entitlements,” or government “benefits,” there is often pride, arrogance, greed and a never-ending DEMAND for even MORE “free stuff.” They’re trained to believe, and come to expect that the world “owes” them. It’s the exact opposite of God’s intention for us to work and be productive, taking care of ourselves and our families and giving us the ability to freely and happily give a portion of our earnings to bless others.
God loves a cheerful giver. I doubt that He likes our current system of forced government taxation and wealth re-distribution and social engineering much at all. In fact, I’m pretty sure He hates it… and I’m pretty sure He’s greatly disappointed that those who call themselves by His name so rarely have a true servant’s heart or a true love for their neighbor in need… but that they, too, simply EXPECT “somebody else” to deal with the need — they, too, expect Big Government to handle it. Shame.
We are commanded in Scripture to work, to work hard and always do our very best, to do everything we do as “unto the Lord,” not just because work is a necessary burden or a “curse,” but because through our work, we can be a blessing. I hope I’ve made that point.
But equally important is the second point I’d like to make. God didn’t just give us a life of constant work, but He’s also emphasized the importance of rest, renewal, times of solitude and restoration. We must work hard, but we must ALSO have rest. I’m learning that now.
I’m not boasting or being prideful when I say I’ve always worked extremely hard, even from the days of my youth. I’ve always tried to do my very best at whatever I set my hand to do. At jobs I had in my younger days, I always went over and above what was asked of me. I always did MORE than my job description entailed, and I was rewarded for doing so. I’ve been self-employed now for 31 years, and I continue to do much more than the bare minimum. In fact, now that I’ve been in full-time ministry work for the last 20 years, every day I wake up with the urgent desire to do MORE for the Kingdom of God… to reach more people for Christ, to use every means possible to expose and reprove the works of darkness, to shine the light of truth, to glorify God and to serve among His remnant believers.
This urgent desire seems even MORE urgent in these dark days we’re currently living in, and so I’m working harder and faster now than ever before, as I do believe the time is short. There is coming a day when no man can work — so I’m doing my best to redeem the time, because the days are evil, indeed.
But meanwhile, many who know me and see the work I do have warned me that my work load is unsustainable, and eventually, if I don’t take a break, I’m going to “snap.” Moreover, GOD has told me multiple times that I MUST take a break. In my stubbornness and determination to do MORE, oftentimes I’ve ignored all the warnings and kept on pushing myself even harder. There have been multiple times over the past few months that I’ve found myself so utterly and completely exhausted — emotionally, mentally, physically and spiritually — that I’ve been unable to get out of bed and have slept through an entire day, only to get up the NEXT day and resume my schedule.
I’m not exaggerating when I tell you that I’ve been doing the work of at least four full-time people, by myself, for months on end now, and no time off. In addition to my work with our nationally-distributed newspaper, I also do a radio program and a weekly TV program. All of this requires intense study and research, with a 24/7 stream of information and news. I also do Christian counseling, and those calls can come at all hours of the day and night. Not to mention the office and administration work that I must attend to daily. And when I’m able, I am eager to join other Christians for street ministry.
But you see, I’m the only one here. This makes “a day off” a near impossibility. If I take one day off, I return to TWO days’ worth of work that MUST be caught up in one. If I take two days off, I return to THREE days of work to complete in one, just to stay on schedule. Currently, I have not had a “real” day “off” since before Christmas. In the past, when I have taken a day off, I feel extremely guilty for neglecting my duties. In years past, when I’ve been able to take a “vacation,” I find it takes me about three days to “decompress” before I can even begin to relax. And then when I return, I pay for those days dearly with an even heavier backlog of work to attend to.
But as good as my intentions are in being diligent with my work and ministry, this is not the example Jesus gave us, and not the way the Lord would have ME to live (or YOU to live) either.
In the book of Mark, we read about Jesus sending the 70 disciples out to minister. When they returned, He told them, “‘Come away by yourselves to a desolate place and rest a while.’ For many were coming and going, and they had no leisure, even to eat.” I can certainly relate to that. Most days I’m up at 5:30 in the morning, work until evening, and then grab a quick “snack” before collapsing in bed. My wife and I rarely have time together. She also works extremely hard. I’m not complaining, nor am I looking for accolades or sympathy. I’m simply stating that the time has come for me to go away and rest a while.
In Matthew 14, after Jesus fed the 5,000, we read: “Immediately Jesus made the disciples get into the boat and go on ahead of Him to the other side, while He dismissed the crowd. After He had dismissed them, He went up on a mountainside by Himself to pray. When evening came, He was there alone.”
As important as our calling is, we are not made for constant work — not even constant MINISTRY work. God made the Sabbath for man because He knew we needed time to rest, renew, refresh, to pray and commune with God and with our loved ones so that we would “not grow weary in well-doing.”
On July 14, my wife and I will be celebrating our 30th wedding anniversary. By the grace of God, He’s made a way for us to get away to a quiet place for a few days, taking time to rest and renew and refresh. After that we’ll attend a ministry training event in Ohio, then make the long trek back home and back to work again. I’m grateful for this opportunity. For the first few days, we have no real plans — just rest. We’re not even sure where we’ll be going. And we’re not sure what we’ll find in other states as we drive; whether the areas we visit will be open, or locked down; whether we will find riots and confrontation or peace. But I believe I’ve heard clearly from the Lord that we are to GO, rest, then assemble together with other remnant believers for ministry training and fellowship with God’s people, and I believe He will bless our time away.
We can barely afford to take this trip, and it will be difficult because there are no “paid vacation benefits” for us. We will need to be very frugal, and it will be a modest “getaway,” to say the least. But I’m very much looking forward to time alone with my dear wife — who SO MUCH deserves this time; she has sacrificed so much in 30 years. Please keep us in prayer while we’re away. There will be no new messages from me for a couple of weeks. But Lord willing, I will return safely, refreshed and ready to resume the work the Lord has blessed and honored me with.
God bless you.
Audio CDs and transcripts of this message are available when you call me at Wisconsin Christian News, (715) 486-8066. Or email Rob@WisconsinChristianNews.com and ask for message number 297.