“For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies. Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.”II Thessalonians 3:10-12
I used to work as a painter for someone whose mom was an alderman in our city. Because of that relationship, we got a lot of city jobs, and we painted city hall, the mayor’s office, and even the flag pole outside of city hall. When things got slow, my boss fell back on these city jobs, and I’m pretty sure we did not work all the hours he billed the city for, but that was not my business as I just worked as I was told. There came a point when we became too expensive for the city as contractors, so they brought us both on as employees with really no jobs to do. We would often drive around all morning, go to lunch, and then drive around some more. We did little jobs here and there, but nothing that would constitute real work for the salary we were being paid. The days seemed to drag on, and I longed to get back to doing some real work instead of simply pretending that I was working.
When my boss got tired of driving around, we would go to Public Works and hang out reading the newspaper or go to his cake supply store and park around the back. I thought this was cool at first, but it soon got old, and I became frustrated with my boss. We spent too much time together and he wore on me like sand in my shorts. Other city workers said things under their breath when they passed by us, and I could not dispute what they were saying as it was true. I hated they way they looked at us, and I hated the fact that I was just collecting a pay check I really did not deserve. I was sick of my boss, I was sick of how others looked at me at work, and I was ready to move on.
One day, my boss and I had a pretty big fight, and we almost went to blows in the Public Works garage. The only thing that stopped us was a commotion in the main area, and we went to check it out. The main boss was chewing out an employee because he got bit by a bee and was unable to continue working. He could not believe a bee would hinder anyone from being able to throw garbage. The guy walked off and the boss continued to rant and said under his breath, “Now what am I going to do?” I immediately offered to take his place. My painting boss became infuriated with me and told me that if I did that then we were through, and this made my decision that much easier. He told me I didn’t know what I was getting into, and he was 100 percent right about that. What I did know was that it was honest work, and I would no longer be stuck with my painting boss.
I was so eager to prove myself that I worked with all the energy of Willy Wonka’s Chocolate Factory. At the end of the day, the driver of the garbage truck went into the office and requested I never be taken off of his truck. I worked on every truck on garbage detail and some drivers would show up early to request me and this only made me work that much harder. I went home every day from throwing garbage with a sense of satisfaction and knowing I gave my all in those horrific-smelling alleys. The feeling of fatigue was a badge of honor, and I no longer was ashamed to pick up my paycheck. I gained the respect of the men at Public Works, even the ones who despised me in the beginning. My garbage foreman came out to throw an alley or two with me, and I worked like I had never worked before. He held my hand up after we completed the two alleys as if I was Rocky and won the world championship of garbage throwing.
I learned that God designed us to work and there is a level of satisfaction that comes from hard work. We live in a society with people on the street corners begging for money or food, and it is hard to know who really needs help and who is just too lazy to work. God put in all of us the ability to work, and we must labor with the talents God has given us. The world needs garbage throwers, doctors, pastors, and those who choose to stay home and raise a family. Proverbs 14:23 states, “In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury (poverty).” As we see in verse 10 above, God’s Word gives an ultimatum for those who do not work – they should not eat.
Where are you today friend? Do you waste time reading mindless posts on social media or binge-watching Netflix? How many hours are wasted on a couch which will account for nothing? What has God called you to do? Are you working as you should, or are you getting by on the goodwill of others? What would your boss say about your work ethic? More importantly, what would your God say about your work ethic? Genesis 2:15 states, “And the LORD God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress (tend) it and to keep it.” God has given us work from the beginning of creation and there is great satisfaction in labor. Retirement is not found in the Bible, and retirement should only mean that we have more of our time to give in service to the Lord. What will you do with the time God has given you? Will you be a busybody or will you honor Him with your labor? Colossians 3:23 states, And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;” May our work be pleasing to the Lord and may we work heartily unto Him.