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Working Hard or Hardly Working?

A View of the Guiding Light in a World of Darkness is a weekly devotional that seeks to apply Biblical principles to our everyday lives, written by inspirational speaker, Jeremy Curry.

Proverbs 14:23

All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.

Genesis 2:1-3

1 Thus the heavens and the earth were completed in all their vast array.

By the seventh day God had finished the work he had been doing; so on the seventh day he rested from all his work. Then God blessed the seventh day and made it holy, because on it he rested from all the work of creating that he had done.

Many of us in the U.S. celebrated Labor Day this week.  It’s the unofficial close to summer as we swarm to the lakes and other 3-day weekend vacations for one last hurrah as kids head back to school and we prepare for the cool weather that will soon be arriving as autumn approaches.  It’s a picturesque time in our lives when we spend time with our family and friends away from the workplace.  We remember what life is like away from our jobs. We stop everything and focus on the people in our lives that we love and enjoy being around.

When we think about work, there are two sides of the spectrum: those that don’t work at all and those that work too much.  It’s important for us to remember that work is a gift.  It may sound ironic to say that, but what would happen if we couldn’t work?  Among other things, there would be no one to provide electricity to our homes, no actors for the TV shows we watch, no software developers to make our computers work, and no hardware engineers to make our mobile devices.  It doesn’t sound like a very fun world, does it?  It’s important to remember that hard work brings a profit and doing nothing will certainly bring you to poverty as King Solomon stated.  If you dreaded heading back to work Tuesday morning after Labor Day, remember that hard work will enable you to profit.  Be thankful to God that you have a job.  Not everyone is so lucky.  Remembering work is a gift will help you to remember to do it joyfully for the love of our Father (see Colossians 3:23-24).  Your hard work will certainly be rewarded.

On one side of the spectrum, we find the lazy; those who could find and get a job, but choose not to do so.  Note that none of the verses in today’s passages praise laziness nor will you find a Bible verse that does so.  If you select this path, you are taking the path to poverty.  What was true during the reign of King Solomon still stands true today.  Doing nothing will result in nothing.  That is, if you do not work, do not expect to receive anything in return.  Remember that your decisions are your own, and others that do work hard are never required to meet your needs if you have a clear ability and opportunity to work.

But, what about the other end of the spectrum?  What about those who work too hard?  Starting out at the beginning of the Bible, we read about the great things that can be accomplished when we work.  However, we are also reminded that we need to rest.  Recent studies suggest that Americans work harder than any other country.  Statistics from the Bureau of Labor in those same reports indicate that over 20% of the workforce is spending 49 hours per week or more at their jobs.  This seems interesting and counter-intuitive as studies that show resting rather than working longer hours can actually increase productivity.  For those of us who are working more, why are we doing it?  It could be everything that we have to pay for.  I remember a time when my family had one car, and that was all we could afford, so we didn’t buy another.  It was an era before credit cards and large mountains of debt became part of the cultural norm.  Today, it is not uncommon for families to have more TVs than people in the house, smartphones that cost us several hundred dollars per month, high-speed Internet that has become a necessity, and, of course, we “need” cable TV and the ability to stream Netflix.  Just one of those “needs” is typically an expensive car, which comes with an average car payment of $475 per month.  In addition, the American Bankers’ Association reports that the average American household has $8,000 in credit card debt to pay off.  Is it any wonder that the trend appears to be that Americans are working more hours? 

If you find yourself on this side of the fence, where you seem to work far more than you should, it’s time to see how you can start cutting back.  Start getting yourself out of debt, so you don’t have to work as much. As Dave Ramsey would say, “Don’t let your money control you.  Start controlling your money.”  All of those things that you “need” are making you tired and spend time away from those you love the most.  Remember that when God was done with His work by creating the entire universe, He rested.  This is an example we should all be following.  Isn’t it interesting that God sets the schedule of the workweek thousands of years before anyone even thought of electricity; or, even the wheel, for that matter?  You may not be able to work 5 days on and 2 days off, but it is important to stop and rest just as our Father set the example.  After all, if we are made in His image, then what is good for Him is good for us.  Rearrange to make your life complete by working the way our Father does.  If our Almighty God needed rest from His hard work, then there is no doubt that rest is also essential for our health, heart, mind, and soul.

Father, remind us that when we serve others, we are serving you.  May we work hard for our employers as we would work hard for you.  Enable us to make the changes in our lives who need to make rest essential. For those that need employment, may you open doors that will lead them in the direction You want them.  For those who are not working, but could easily find a job, remind them that what they do will affect their lives and is representative of how others view You as they set the example for how others view You.  Open their hearts and minds to remind them that work is a gift from You. We love You, Father. In Jesus’ name, Amen.

For further study, read Proverbs 22:7 and think about how debt can continue to make you a slave to your job.