There's no milk without manure!
Maybe some of you were reminded of this phrase more than once as a grumbling child that was forced to scoop manure and feed the animals. Before today where most of us buy our milk from the grocery store, more people had to take care of dairy cows and they are hard work! They require a lot of time and energy but when you go drink that milk or eat the cheese, it makes it all worth it. Everything good in life seems to come with a cost. It takes a toll on us but it’s worth it. Proverbs 14:4 puts it this way,
“Where no oxen are, the manger is clean,
Keep in mind that when this was written, the ox was the diesel pickup and John Deere of the day. It would haul heavy loads and pull the plow, doing the hard work that saved your back and brought an increase in harvest, but you had to put up with mess the ox makes and do the regular maintenance oxen require.
I have scribbled in the margin of my Bible next to that verse, “Sometimes you’ve got to make a mess to get things done.” As a man who likes a clean shop and every tool in its place and wiped clean of grease, I knew that there were times during the busy seasons where that just wasn’t going to be the case and that’s fine. The shop floor would have to get dirty and tools would have to be scattered around the shop benches, but there’s no profit without the mess.
Most of us don’t enjoy the maintenance work on vehicles, but we’d rather drive than walk! We don’t like vet bills or buying bags of food for the animals, but we enjoy the company of our pets that bring life and joy to our homes. We don’t like the upkeep required on our homes, but we sure enjoy a warm and safe place to live. Kids seem to make everything in the house sticky, their toys clutter the house, their diapers fill the trash cans, but they become the pride and joy of your life. Having a spouse requires us to give up some of our own wants or desires, but it sure is wonderful to have a companion to go through life with. It’s hard to get to church on time some Sunday mornings, but the fellowship in the Word is so good.
Remember that when it comes to hard work and discipline: good things come with a cost. That’s one of the reasons God created work in the first place. He created it for us to find a sense of purpose, accomplishment and reward in. In fact, if you study Genesis 2:15, you’ll see that we were created to work!
“Then the Lord God took the man and put him into the garden of Eden
So much of the world has us thinking that work is a drudge and something to be thrown off. Man is tempted to despise work and desire the rewards of hard work without the work. But notice that right there, in the beginning, God created Adam and placed him in the garden to work at cultivating it. Notice this was before the Fall into sin! Work is a good thing and a major element God designed to be a part of our lives.
Also, we work because God works and we’re made in His image. He worked hard for six days creating the world and is always working (Jn. 5:17). God wants us to enjoy the work of our hands as He does.
Now, granted, work has become much harder after the Fall into sin. The land was harder to cultivate for Adam and weeds sprang up, making us work by the sweat of our brow (Gen. 3:17-19). But the preacher of Ecclesiastes says hard work makes sleep pleasant (Ecc. 5:12). He was the wisest man who ever lived and said that it is good for man to eat and drink and enjoy his labor under the sun – it’s his reward (Ecc. 5:18)! Our Savior worked as well in some form of construction while He lived!
The apostle Paul wrote to the Thessalonians some firm words, telling some of the unproductive citizens to work and not be lazy, and to bring shame to Christ’s name. He commanded them to keep away from a brother in Christ who was leading an unruly life by not working. Paul himself, by working night and day and not eating anyone’s bread without paying for it, set a good example for them to follow.
“If a man is not willing to work, then he is not to eat either.
He actually goes on to say we shouldn’t associate with someone living an undisciplined life. Not being a productive individual for Christ is sin.
On the contrary, work is worship when it is done with a heart for God. In whatever we do, we are to do it for the Lord, as serving Him and not men. Our work is part of our calling in life and our intention should be to glorify God (Col. 3:23-24). This puzzles many who just don’t find satisfaction in work. But let me ask you: have you prayerfully asked God what He would have you do with the gifts and talents and interests that He has given you? Have you asked Him to accept your work as worship?
With a right heart before God, work is worship
Looking back, before I trusted Christ, I remember only working for the money – go for the biggest bucks and best retirement. That’s a good way to waste your life and your unique, God-given gifts, talents, and interests. As a pastor, I encourage people to do what God made them to do. When I became a Christian, I was empowered to be able to leave the job I didn’t enjoy to do something I did. Even though I didn’t make near as much, it was still worth it! I’ve never regretted it and God has blessed.
But what about beyond this life? Many people seem to think that Heaven is going to be one big retirement party where was just sit around on clouds and drink wine and play harps. In fact, I’ve heard people talk as if the idea of work in Heaven or on the New Earth is repulsive and if we get there and find work, we’ll want to leave! On the contrary, I think the Bible makes it clear that we will be serving God uniquely as individuals, as His servants throughout all of eternity. It won’t just be one giant, eternal worship service of singing songs. On the New Earth, the curse will be totally lifted and work will be even more satisfying than ever (Rev. 22:3).
Revelation 22:3 says about the New Heaven and New Earth,
“No longer will there be anything accursed, but the throne of God
Serve is a verb. It is active. And sometimes it [latreuo] is translated worship and work. We will be work-worshipers! Maybe this illustrates for us again the idea that work and worship shouldn’t be separated. As one man said,
“None of us can separate our lives into sacred and secular,
People who serve have tasks and things to do that keeps them busy and finding reward in. Those who are faithful in this life with what the Lord gives them will actually be put in charge of more work to do according to Jesus’ teachings (Matt. 24:19; 25:23).
“Well done, good and faithful servant!
In other words, if you are faithful, you are entrust with more! In a world where hard work is despised or man is tempted to greed and laziness, Christians ought to stand out by the way they work hard for the Lord with joy! We should be the most creative and boldest workers in the world! It’s part of our fruit-bearing in this life! In the Creation Mandate of Genesis 1:26-27, God said to Adam and Eve,
“Be fruitful and multiply.”
Let’s be fruitful vocationally, treating work as a calling for God’s glory!
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