Sunday 4/28 ~ The gift of labor

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From the Preacher’s Pen…

In a recent discussion with a small group of Christians, one brother made the point that, according to the translation he was using, “the love of money” is NOT THE root of ALL evil but rather the root of all KINDS of evil. His point is actually 100 percent accurate!

While many translations imply that the statement of 1 Timothy 6:10 is that money is the root of ALL evil(s), the actual statement of Paul fails to use the article the with root. The result, according to the rules of grammar, is that, in English, a root is Paul’s meaning. Money is one of several (by implication) of the significant roots that cause sin.

Unfortunately for many people with their imagined beliefs and false teachings, words DO matter. Their interpretation and meaning are not left up to us to mean whatever WE want them to mean. As Peter reminds us (2 Peter 1:20), no Scripture stands alone, isolated from the rest of God’s revealed will for us to interpret however we want. In other words, if a Scripture seems to contradict something else in God’s word, you are understanding it wrong!

A similar misconception causes us to miss a blessing that God gives when we confuse it with sin.

The Gift of Labor

In Genesis 3:17-19 God pronounces a curse on Adam for allowing someone else to convince him to sin (his wife, verse 17) and for his resulting disobedience to God’s command. First off, did you catch that first sin? It is OUR sin if we listen to false teaching, bad advice and follow it to disobey God!

So let’s read that passage: 17 Then to Adam He said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife, and have eaten from the tree about which I commanded you, saying, ‘You shall not eat from it’; Cursed is the ground because of you; In toil you will eat of it All the days of your life. 18 Both thorns and thistles it shall grow for you; And you will eat the plants of the field; 19 By the sweat of your face You will eat bread, till you return to the ground because from it you were taken; For you are dust, And to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:17-19)

Now, one of the oft-heard lessons from this passage is that part of man’s curse is to work. The problem with that? It’s NOT there! Yes, men (and women) have to work for their living. Paul goes so far as to teach that the one who is not willing to work, should not be fed (2 Thessalonians 3:10)!

But wait! There’s more! When God first created Adam and Eve, He gave them work to do (read Genesis 2:15) in keeping the garden of Eden. Yes, God planted the garden but it was up to Adam and Eve to take care of it in order to continue to eat of its fruits.

Labor for one’s living is NOT God’s punishment for sin, but rather a blessing for our good!

Take a look at another passage that reminds us of this lesson. Ecclesiastes 3:12-13: 12 I know that there is nothing better for them than to rejoice and to do good in one’s lifetime; 13 moreover, that every man who eats and drinks sees good in all his labor — it is the gift of God.

Did you catch that? The labor that we do to earn our food is good! Indeed, it is the gift of God!

Jesus’ mission here on earth was to do the work that God had for Him to do here (cf. John 9:4). Dozens of times Jesus mentioned His work and our work. And the New Testament is filled with references to our responsibility to do the work of God. That is what we are called to do while on this earth. And, lest we forget, our eternal home in Heaven will be filled with blessings for sure, but will also require us to work, to serve God (cf. Revelation 22:3).

As children of God, He has given us the blessing of the most useful work ever in being the light of this world. Paul sums up the challenge this way: Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord. (1 Corinthians 15:58)

— Lester P. Bagley

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