Redeeming Work

Sunday’s sermon from Proverbs was about work, which our pastor defined as more than what we do to earn money. Basically he said it is whatever we do that is productive, meaning that it accomplishes something. So taking out the trash is productive, and therefore it is work. And so on.

First, Pastor pointed out that God gave Adam work to do before the fall. So work is not a result of sin! It’s actually God’s plan for us and something that we will do in our lives with Him in the future.

What we are faced with today, however, is that work is hard. And that is a result of the fall. Pastor didn’t say this, but I’m pretty sure this is why we try to avoid work.

Of course, we’re pretty good with work that give us joy—golfers like to golf, those who love to tinker with old cars have no problem working on an engine for hours, shoppers can spend just as long looking for that perfect bargain, and so on.

We also have a tolerance level for the work that will benefit us in some way—painting the house to enhance its value, putting in new roses, mowing the lawn.

Even more, we work out and we diet if we think it will do us good—maybe so we can fit into that dress for our friend’s wedding or so that we won’t be embarrassed when we go to the beach. Or so we can avoid the disease our parents died of, so we can live to see our kids get married and have kids.

We’ll work, too, in order to provide for those we care about—private school, a college fund, life insurance, daily food and a roof over our heads.

But because work is hard and we don’t always get to do what we enjoy, we so often look forward to the weekend when we don’t have to do the any work except that which we choose to do. Too often conflicts between husband and wife lie within that have to space of.

Pastor pointed out that a good number of verses in Proverbs address the matter of work, the necessity of work, but he chose as his text 16:3—

Commit your works to the LORD
And your plans will be established.

The idea he stressed is that we can intentionally do our work as to the Lord. By way of cross reference he cited Colossians 3:22—“Slaves, in all things obey those who are your masters on earth, not with external service, as those who merely please men, but with sincerity of heart, fearing the Lord.”

Then there is Eph. 6:7 that says, “Render service as to the Lord and not to men.” Or how about 1 Cor. 15:58—“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.”

Another from the Old Testament. The context is what a prophet told a king of Israel who was restoring worship to the Lord: “But you, be strong and do not lose courage, for there is reward for your work” (2 Chron. 15:7)

So there’s a choice we have. We can do our work to get paid—not a wrong motive, surely. We can do our work because it needs to be done: the groceries have to get bought and put away, for instance. Again nothing wrong with doing what needs to be done.

But we can also do our work to be people pleasers. We can work to win the award, get the bonus or the promotion. We can complete our tasks on time for the approval of our boss, we can strive to excel at our job so people will tell us what good workers we are or how much they appreciate our attention to detail.

We humans love that kind of encouragement, and honestly, we don’t give it to each other often enough. But if we are working for those things? It those are our motives?

I think we’re missing what Proverbs 16:3 is saying.

Generally we have a goal in sight, and we work toward attaining it. This short proverb says, if we commit our work, whatever that might be, to God, He will make sure it meets the goal. His goal. What He wants to accomplish in and through us.

I think this concept goes hand in hand with Matthew 6:33: “But seek first His kingdom and His righteousness, and all these things [food and clothing] will be added to you.”

I know we tend to be skeptical about this. But how many times does God have to say it in His word. Seek His kingdom, His righteousness; render service to the Lord; abound in the work of the Lord; commit your work to the Lord; don’t lose courage for there is reward for your work.

In other words, we don’t have to worry about someone else moving ahead of us in the promotion line or winning the contract we had also sought. All we need to worry about is committing our work to the Lord. He’s got the results in His hands.

Published in: on July 30, 2018 at 5:19 pm  Comments (2)  
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Proverbs 31 Isn’t Just For Women

Great sermon at my church Sunday. We’re doing a series on Living Proverbially, which means, in accordance with what the book of Proverbs teaches. I like the way our pastor and the others who have preached have dealt with the topics. Above all, they have not come across legalistically. They also have not approached Proverbs presumptively, meaning they do not teach that God MUST do X if we but do Y.

This last Sunday, my pastor, Darin McWatters, began by reading chapter 31, which is often considered the description of what a wife is supposed to be like—hence, the idea that the chapter is just for women.

But Pastor Darin pointed out that the chapter is instruction a King Lemuel received from his mom concerning what he should look for in a wife—instruction that he passed on to his son. In truth, the admonition is directed to men about women.

I couldn’t help but think of an article I saw on the internet recently stating that men preferred women who were debt free and did not have tattoos. Well, there you have it, I thought during Sunday’s sermon, those men are looking for the wrong thing. And the women are enabling it! Oh, the article author seemed to be saying, men want this wrong, skewed thing, and that inconsequential thing, so by all means, girls, be sure you give the guys those things! Above all else!

King Lemuel was stepping in and correcting his son, telling him he had to get his eyes off the wrong (or foolish) and the inconsequential.

This attitude of pleasing men by being debt and tattoo free, makes me think of the Pharisees of Jesus’s day. They demanded certain external things too. They weren’t interested in who had a heart for God, who was loving His neighbor, and certainly they were not concerned about who had repented of their sins and received forgiveness.

Guys who are only looking at a statement of debt and what tattoos are showing, are just like those Pharisees.

But what guys are supposed to be looking for are the qualities that all of Proverbs has already featured. In other words, the very things that the first 30 chapters have addressed as part of Solomon’s advice to his son. They can be categorized in three general statements: recognizing one another’s intrinsic value, serving each other sacrificially, expressing our love for one another.

Pastor Darin did an amazing job of showing parallels from chapter 31 with other verses in Proverbs, each falling into one of these three areas.

As he spoke, another thought came to my mind—something I learned years and years ago from a pastor addressing what the Apostle Paul said was his idea and not from Christ. These verses were still in the Bible, still inspired by God, still given to him by the Holy Spirit. And, all Scripture, not some, is profitable to the believer. It will teach us or reprove us or correct us or train us. God will use it in our lives.

So too with Proverbs 31. What if it actually were written just to women? Men could still learn from it, should still learn from it. It’s in the Bible so it falls into the category of all Scripture—inspired, profitable.

But clearly it’s not a “to women” passage: “The words of King Lemuel, the oracle which his mother taught him” (Pro. 31:1).

I like what Pastor Darin did next. He said the passage could be viewed sort of like the satellite image someone can see using Google maps. First you can zoom in and see your house, then take it out to see your block, your city, your state. So, too with this passage. The close up view shows us ourselves, but then we see ourselves in relationship with our family, our church, and the ultimate, as part of the Church, with Christ.

After all, we are His bride, He the bridegroom. We are to speak highly of Him, serve Him sacrificially, express our love to Him. In other words, God’s principles work on every level! They aren’t just good ideas or helpful in marriage. They are truths that should infuse our lives and affect every level of relationship we have.

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