Wednesday, April 19, 2006

Biblical Principals of Work and the Biblical Work Ethic (Part 7)

Biblical Principals of Work and the Biblical Work Ethic (Part 7)

Working In and Under Harsh Conditions

As has been seen above Christians are called upon to work as unto the Lord even in a slave / master relationship. They are called upon to labor heartily as unto the Lord being obedient to their master / employer. This is a command for us whether our employee is gentle or harsh. Obedience, for the believer, is more than mere subjection. It is a work of grace in the heart caring forth the Biblical work ethic in love to the Lord. The obedience we are called to is "as unto Christ" says the Apostle Paul Ephesians 6:5-7 "Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men: .... And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men"

What are Christians to do if they find themselves needing to work under harsh conditions? We are not left unto ourselves but have the Bible to give sufficient answers in this matter. If we find ourselves oppressed by harsh and unfair labor practices we are to be patient and endure waiting on the coming of our Lord the judge of all the earth. Let us know that we are never alone. He does see and know our circustances says James when he says, "Go to now, ye rich men, weep and howl for your miseries that shall come upon you. Your riches are corrupted, and your garments are motheaten. Your gold and silver is cankered; and the rust of them shall be a witness against you, and shall eat your flesh as it were fire. Ye have heaped treasure together for the last days. Behold, the hire of the labourers who have reaped down your fields, which is of you kept back by fraud, crieth: and the cries of them which have reaped are entered into the ears of the Lord of sabaoth. Ye have lived in pleasure on the earth, and been wanton; ye have nourished your hearts, as in a day of slaughter. Ye have condemned and killed the just; and he doth not resist you.Be patient therefore, brethren, unto the coming of the Lord. Behold, the husbandman waiteth for the precious fruit of the earth, and hath long patience for it, until he receive the early and latter rain. Be ye also patient; stablish your hearts: for the coming of the Lord draweth nigh.Grudge not one against another, brethren, lest ye be condemned: behold, the judge standeth before the door. Take, my brethren, the prophets, who have spoken in the name of the Lord, for an example of suffering affliction, and of patience. Behold, we count them happy which endure. Ye have heard of the patience of Job, and have seen the end of the Lord; that the Lord is very pitiful, and of tender mercy. But above all things, my brethren, swear not, neither by heaven, neither by the earth, neither by any other oath: but let your yea be yea; and your nay, nay; lest ye fall into condemnation."

So if and when we find ourselves in and under harsh conditions and have not found a way out of them in our work circumstances we need to 1) acknowledge that judgement is coming upon the oppressor: (Lev. 9:13; Deut. 24:14,15; Jer. 22:13). In the mattereof the Lord's judgment the wealth of the oppessor is destnied to be a witness against them and the day will come when God shall judge the oppressor for "The coming of the Lord draweth nigh". God, the Lord of Sabaoth, the King hears you cry in your situation. Therefore "live patiently while in those harsh oppressive circumstances practicing the application of God’s word concerning patience in the circumstance (Jas.5). Establish your heart in the reality of the coming of the judge from heaven; watch and do not begrudge others and condemn yourselves; let your "yes be yes" and your "no be no" speaking the truth in all things; and remember the patient men of the faith in the past, such as Job, Elijah, David and Abraham as an example of suffering and affliction. Always walking in the steps of our Savior as he has truly been our example of suffering.

1 Peter 2:18-25 Servants, be subject to your masters with all fear; not only to the good and gentle, but also to the froward. For this is thankworthy, if a man for conscience toward God endure grief, suffering wrongfully. For what glory is it, if, when ye be buffeted for your faults, ye shall take it patiently? but if, when ye do well, and suffer for it, ye take it patiently, this is acceptable with God. For even hereunto were ye called: because Christ also suffered for us, leaving us an example, that ye should follow his steps: Who did no sin, neither was guile found in his mouth: Who, when he was reviled, reviled not again; when he suffered, he threatened not; but committed himself to him that judgeth righteously: Who his own self bare our sins in his own body on the tree, that we, being dead to sins, should live unto righteousness: by whose stripes ye were healed. For ye were as sheep going astray; but are now returned unto the Shepherd and Bishop of your souls.

We can take comfort in that the Lord God sees our affliction, hears our cries and knows our sorrows. He gives his people strength to carry on seemingly impossible tasks amid oppressive conditions as he did the beleives that were in bondage in Egypt. AMEN.

Exodus 3:1-10 Now Moses kept the flock of Jethro his father in law, the priest of Midian: and he led the flock to the backside of the desert, and came to the mountain of God, even to Horeb. And the angel of the LORD appeared unto him in a flame of fire out of the midst of a bush: and he looked, and, behold, the bush burned with fire, and the bush was not consumed. And Moses said, I will now turn aside, and see this great sight, why the bush is not burnt.And when the LORD saw that he turned aside to see, God called unto him out of the midst of the bush, and said, Moses, Moses. And he said, Here am I. And he said, Draw not nigh hither: put off thy shoes from off thy feet, for the place whereon thou standest is holy ground. Moreover he said, I am the God of thy father, the God of Abraham, the God of Isaac, and the God of Jacob. And Moses hid his face; for he was afraid to look upon God. And the LORD said, I have surely seen the affliction of my people which are in Egypt, and have heard their cry by reason of their taskmasters; for I know their sorrows; And I am come down to deliver them out of the hand of the Egyptians, and to bring them up out of that land unto a good land and a large, unto a land flowing with milk and honey; unto the place of the Canaanites, and the Hittites, and the Amorites, and the Perizzites, and the Hivites, and the Jebusites. Now therefore, behold, the cry of the children of Israel is come unto me: and I have also seen the oppression wherewith the Egyptians oppress them. Come now therefore, and I will send thee unto Pharaoh, that thou mayest bring forth my people the children of Israel out of Egypt.

Work, Wages and Riches

The necessity of work has been established. So now I will briefly look at work in relation to wages and the attainment of riches. Biblically neither labor nor wages is a result of the fall. It is only the hardship and pain connected with labor is the result of the fall. The difficulty in laboring to earn wages since the fall is a curse of the fall. In laboring and earning wages the body gets tired and sickly so that we have difficulty sometimes in production. The tools we work with become tattered, worn, and break causing difficulties and sometimes even accidents. Outside influences sometimes cause delays, and often failure to produce labor and therefore bringing difficulty in earning wages. And as we have just mentioned personalities and oppression against the employees by the masters cause difficulty in earning proper wages for the labor produced. However, even after the fall with even with the curse there is the blessing of God upon created mankind. For there would be a produce, and an earning, from the labor of man. The fall did not abrogate the ordinance of labor and its reward. Praise be to God!!!!

The scriptures cast no bad reflection upon riches accumlated by God ordained labor. The blessings given by the patriarchs upon their children were for abundant blessings: Jacob’s blessing to Isaac (27:28) and then to Easu (27:39). Take note of the riches of Abraham, David, and many of the fathers of the faith. The labors of their hands brought rewards, some of those rewards were abundant.

Labor in respect to pay is established in principle of case law by God in Deuteronomy. Deut 25:4 (ASV) Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out [the grain]. Therefore if an ox, over whom man is to have dominion and use for his service and good, is to be taken care of in a proper and orderly manner it is only right and proper to assume God will have men be paid for their service and labor so that thay may have food for lifes sustenance. The Lord himself stated in the Gospels that "the laborer is worthy of his hire" (Luke 10:7) and "the laborer is worthy of his food" (Matt. 10:10). The Apostle Paul also stated this truth in speaking of elders in the church and the pay they are to receive: 1Tim 5:17-18 (ASV) Let the elders that rule well be counted worthy of double honor, especially those who labor in the word and in teaching. 18 For the scripture saith, Thou shalt not muzzle the ox when he treadeth out the corn. And, The laborer is worthy of his hire.

Wages and fairness in the work force are regulated by God. There is judgement coming upon the ones that would withold and be unfair to the laborers they are responsible for. Leviticus 19:13 Thou shalt not defraud thy neighbour, neither rob him: the wages of him that is hired shall not abide with thee all night until the morning. Jeremiah 22:13 Woe unto him that buildeth his house by unrighteousness, and his chambers by wrong; that useth his neighbour's service without wages, and giveth him not for his work".

Therefore if you are an employer you must know how are fair wages to be determined. The Bible gives the answer on this as well. The Scriptural balance on this issue is this: the extent of the labor debt or wages owed by the employer to the employee depends upon the nature and extent of the services rendered. The ox gets his feed and care, the labor is worthy of his hire, etc. Cor 3:8 (ASV) Now he that planteth and he that watereth are one: but each shall receive his own reward according to his own labor. Note this that a garbage collector does not command the pay of a Medical doctor and the head of a Math department is worth more in pay than the math teachers that are carrying forth the program he has established and a resturant worker as waiter and waiteress position does not command a wage equal to the chef or the manager. Therefore we must say that in the labor force there is no "equal fair price" for everyone so that all earn the same amount of money. Therefore we conclude that the extent of the labor debt owed by the employer to the employee depends upon the nature and extent of the services rendered.

That which is to govern wages cannot be merely a contract. A contract can dictate many good and proper things. It can at times state a fair wage for a service rendered. But, just because there is a contract, there is no assurance that the wage paid is fair in relation to the service rendered. There is also the point whereby an oppressive master could manipulate and coherce someone to sign a bad contract. A contract then can never be the determining factor concerning proper wages. The scriptures establishes a relationship between the employer and the employee. Take note that in the scripture there is to be more than a contractural, economic relationship between the employer and the employee. There is to be a social relationship for the person performing the work is called "thy neighbor". Therefore oppression by the employer, unfair pay and the withholding of pay by the employer is anti-social and is not to be done. The laborer is to receive pay in a timely manner with the employer acting toward his hired help or "neighbor with kindness, thoughtfulness and mercy. Without this there will be judgment come to the employer.

The Apostle Paul summed up the principle in which justice and equality are to be the standard. Masters, give unto your servants that which is just and equal; knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven." Colossians 4:1 Justice and equality, or a "fair and square" standard must govern wages. All wages must meet the requirements of fairness. The employer must be fair in both paying proper wages for services rendered and in the proper social relationship to the hired laborer. As the believing master was to treat the servant with fairness, so employers are to treat their servants (employees) with justice and equity in reference to wages paid for service rendered as well as in their relationships with one another. The masters or employers are to realize that as their servants are accountable to them then they are accountable to the Master in Heaven. Understanding this they will then treat their workers with consideration for their good and well-being.

Working for the love of money (that being your god in a selfish "me" only life) brings on sin and misery. Loving money spurs all kinds of evil. Loving money is not for the Christian. Paul writing to Timothy in the pastoral epistle of Timothy 6:10 declared that "the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows." An example of the evils the love of money can cause includes: a removal from the faith ..which in tern presents to the person many sorrows ( both in this life and in the life to come) if they are never redeemend by the blood of Christ. It must be understood that money does not cause evil doings but loving money as your motivating force and focus causes many evils. Money is necessary in a society and is nowhere condemned by God. The Bible nowhere condemns capitalism or a free society wherein wealth can be properly accumulated. We can think once again of Abraham, Job, David, Solomn, etc. As men of wealth there is nowhere in the Scriptures they are judged for their wealthy gains.

It would be impossible for us to try to trace evil upon evil that the love of money has caused. Just think for a minute:

1.) Families have been separated by divorce for the love of money. Money problems cause many family breakups.Men and women leave the family for labor and for others to attain wealth. Families breakup because of credit problems (coveting today what they cannot afford until tomorrow, purshasing it on credit and then living with constant stress). Spousal separation of money (yours is yours and mine is mine), etc., etc. Men have divorced and due to their non-married life style and hold to money do not support their children. The list can go on and on but I do hope that the point is clearly made that the love of money is the cause of multiple family sins.

2.) Men have left the worship of God to go after money and the wealth they may be able to attain (Matt 13:18-23; 2 Tim. 4:10)

3..) Men have been so elevated in pride so as to think that they themselves are as a god (Dan 4:30; Acts 12:21-24; Luke 12:15-21)

4.) Children have become disobedient to parents (1 Tim. 5:1-16)

5.) Robberies take place in many places and in many ways: actual breakins, lying on tax reports, tardiness at work and still getting paid for full days work, etc. (Eph. 4:28)

6.) Men have killed for money. (Luke 10:30-35)

7.) Men have made idols and promote false worship and ways of living for the love of monetary gain (Acts 16:16-24)

The Christian needs to understand and act in obedience to the fact that God does not want us to direct our affairs so as to attain money and wealth in an ill-gotton manner. Those that do love money will be judged. The rich fall into snares and many things that cause pain and sorrow. The difficulties that comes with the lust for riches is a stepping stoneleading then into hell. This covetoueness is idolatry, money is their god. It is the love of money which ensnares the rich and it is very hard for them to enter the kingdom. The only possible way is for God to make it possible!

Mark 10:23-27 And Jesus looked round about, and saith unto his disciples, How hardly shall they that have riches enter into the kingdom of God! And the disciples were astonished at his words. But Jesus answereth again, and saith unto them, Children, how hard is it for them that trust in riches to enter into the kingdom of God! It is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle, than for a rich man to enter into the kingdom of God.And they were astonished out of measure, saying among themselves, Who then can be saved?And Jesus looking upon them saith, With men it is impossible, but not with God: for with God all things are possible.

Proverbs 28:20 A faithful man shall abound with blessings: but he that maketh haste to be rich shall not be innocent.

Proverbs 28:22 He that hasteth to be rich hath an evil eye, and considereth not that poverty shall come upon him.

Not all the rich people are unbelivers for God does call some wealthy and mighty into the kingdom. It is in the power of God that the idols of the heart are broken down. It is with Him that it is possible that rich men enter the kingdom of God. Praise God he does call men to himself for His own glory.

1 Corinthians 1:26 For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence.

It is possible for man to serve both God while having an accumulation of money. The scriptures teach believers what to watch out for in their lives so as not to be caught up in the snares of the riches. It also teaches the believer how to speak to lovers of money in calling them to repentance and faith in Jesus Christ

1 Timothy 6:17-19 Charge them that are rich in this world, that they be not highminded, nor trust in uncertain riches, but in the living God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy;That they do good, that they be rich in good works, ready to distribute, willing to communicate; Laying up in store for themselves a good foundation against the time to come, that they may lay hold on eternal life.

Matthew 6:20-34 But lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust doth corrupt, and where thieves do not break through nor steal: For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also. The light of the body is the eye: if therefore thine eye be single, thy whole body shall be full of light.

But if thine eye be evil, thy whole body shall be full of darkness. If therefore the light that is in thee be darkness, how great is that darkness!No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon.

Therefore I say unto you, Take no thought for your life, what ye shall eat, or what ye shall drink; nor yet for your body, what ye shall put on. Is not the life more than meat, and the body than raiment? Behold the fowls of the air: for they sow not, neither do they reap, nor gather into barns; yet your heavenly Father feedeth them. Are ye not much better than they?Which of you by taking thought can add one cubit unto his stature? And why take ye thought for raiment? Consider the lilies of the field, how they grow; they toil not, neither do they spin: And yet I say unto you, That even Solomon in all his glory was not arrayed like one of these.Wherefore, if God so clothe the grass of the field, which to day is, and to morrow is cast into the oven, shall he not much more clothe you, O ye of little faith?Therefore take no thought, saying, What shall we eat? or, What shall we drink? or, Wherewithal shall we be clothed? (For after all these things do the Gentiles seek:) for your heavenly Father knoweth that ye have need of all these things.

But seek ye first the kingdom of God, and his righteousness; and all these things shall be added unto you.Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself. Sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.

God’s people learn be content. Laboring for the money that you love is idolatry. Money as we have seen does not bring contentment. It may bring pleasure for a little while, as it could have done for Moses had he decided to remain in Egypt (Heb 11:24-28). It will buy things or"stuff", but it cannot buy contentment, thankfulness, redemption, and a personal relationship with the "owner of the universe".

God’s people love Christ first. They work according to the biblical standard and allow our providential God bring to them what he desires. It is in this life of worship and godliness that they please him and find his blessings of contentment. It is godliness with contentment that is the goal of the Christian.

If God gives you riches then please follow the above godly lifestyle as the scriptures command and do not be ensared. I also want you to be strong in your faith and in the God that graciously provided for you and others in this matter. If God has so provided for you then there can be enjoyment for "God, who giveth us richly all things to enjoy". Be thanful and be a good steward loving Christ and obeying Him in all that he commands concerning that which he has given you. There is enjoyment in giving to others ( poor, widows, orphans, missionaries, etc.) in the kingdom of God. Remember it is more blessed to give than to receive.

A personal note to you:

For you the beleiver you can direct your life to live as God has directed since you have the indwelling and the power of the Holy Spirit. But perhaps you have read this and you are not a believer. You work for your own interests. For your own desires. You may not be rich but, why do you work? Is it just a necesity in your life? Are you just trying to survive? Do you find work the mundane thing you do every day? Do you or have you had trouble getting along with others in your job? Is it clear to you that you do not work as unto Christ?

For you who do not know Christ as Saviour you cannot experience the blessings of proper Biblical work ethics and relationships. You are lost and in your own selfish sinful drives and motives. You do not have the power of the Holt Spirit in order to obey God in love and action. You need to come to Christ in faith. Acknowledge and turn from your sin. Ask Christ to forgive you for living sinfully and selfishly as if there is no God. Tell Him that you desire to hold to the shed blood of Christ as the only way of salvation from sin.

Only then can you start a new life in Christ. You can learn of the matters in this study and start learning to live life abundantly according to the commands of the dear Saviour.

May God grant each one to live and work in this life to His glory for the Advancement of His kingdom and the common good of all of His creation.


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