The heart of work is a matter of the heart

  By Bob Brubaker  |  

On this day that is designated in the United States as “Labor Day” – a day to take a break from our labors and be thankful for the opportunity to work and for God’s provisions as we spend time with friends and family, it’s good to reflect on some thoughts about work versus idleness and matters of the heart.

First, remember that labor or work was given to man before Adam sinned, so work is not part of the curse.  After man sinned, part of the curse was the pain or stress and strain that would be part of his work or labor.

Genesis 2:15 (ESV) — 15 The Lord God took the man and put him in the garden of Eden to work it and keep it.

Genesis 3:17–19 (ESV) — 17 And to Adam he said, “Because you have listened to the voice of your wife and have eaten of the tree of which I commanded you, ‘You shall not eat of it,’ cursed is the ground because of you; in pain you shall eat of it all the days of your life; 18 thorns and thistles it shall bring forth for you; and you shall eat the plants of the field. 19 By the sweat of your face you shall eat bread, till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; for you are dust, and to dust you shall return.”

Nevertheless, God tells us that the rest of a man who labors well is good.

Ecclesiastes 5:12 (ESV) — 12 Sweet is the sleep of a laborer, whether he eats little or much, but the full stomach of the rich will not let him sleep.

Secondly, we are told in God’s Word that just being idle is not good.

Proverbs 19:15 (ESV) — 15 Slothfulness casts into a deep sleep, and an idle person will suffer hunger.

Ecclesiastes 10:18 (ESV) — 18 Through sloth the roof sinks in, and through indolence the house leaks.

Ezekiel 16:49 (ESV) — 49 Behold, this was the guilt of your sister Sodom: she and her daughters had pride, excess of food, and prosperous ease, but did not aid the poor and needy.

Rest is good but idleness gets us in trouble. There is a fine line between the two so we should use time of rest to thank God for the opportunity to work, to enjoy the rest, but always check our hearts. Do we take our jobs for granted? Do we use the rest to glorify God?

1 Corinthians 10:31 (ESV) — 31 So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Whatever we do we are to do for the glory of God, whether work or rest. We can only do so, however, when our hearts are right before God.

As you take time off on this Labor Day may you use the occasion to do a little heart-check. Since the Bible describes the heart as the part of us that makes us do what we do and say what we say, so it needs a good check. Why do we need a heart check? It’s a matter of fact that most people complain about their jobs or at minimum tolerate their work, never seeing it as being placed there by God for His purpose, if for nothing more than a way to provide for one’s family.

Luke 6:45 (ESV) The good person out of the good treasure of his heart produces good, and the evil person out of his evil treasure produces evil, for out of the abundance of the heart his mouth speaks.

When David was made aware of his sin, he confessed his sin to God. In the midst of his confession, he asked God to create a clean heart in him. He knew his heart was so wicked and deceitful that although he was guilty of sin, he suppressed the prompting of his heart as to deny and cover up his sin. He knew he needed a fresh start, a heart that is clean and sensitive to the things of God. To get right down to the heart of the matter, most people hate their work because there is a problem with their heart. Whoa! That’s heavy. What about the evil people that make life miserable at work? We have the admonition to be salt and light, relying upon the grace and power of the Holy Spirit to live above the situation, doing what we are doing as unto the Lord.

Psalm 51:10 (ESV) Create in me a clean heart, O God, and renew a right spirit within me.

Matthew 5:13–16 (ESV) — 13 “You are the salt of the earth, but if salt has lost its taste, how shall its saltiness be restored? It is no longer good for anything except to be thrown out and trampled under people’s feet. 14 “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden. 15 Nor do people light a lamp and put it under a basket, but on a stand, and it gives light to all in the house. 16 In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven.

Colossians 3:23 (ESV) — 23 Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men,

Jeremiah tells us the heart of man is so corrupt we even fool ourselves in thinking our hearts are OK when, in reality, we are full of covering up what we really are.

Jeremiah 17:9 (ESV) The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately sick; who can understand it?

No wonder we are told to keep our hearts focused and the place to be focused is on loving and serving God.

Proverbs 4:23 (ESV) Keep your heart with all vigilance, for from it flow the springs of life.

Joshua 22:5 (ESV) Only be very careful to observe the commandment and the law that Moses the servant of the Lord commanded you, to love the Lord your God, and to walk in all his ways and to keep his commandments and to cling to him and to serve him with all your heart and with all your soul.”

Jesus said that the test of what is really in your heart is where your treasure is. If you look at what your life says is important – the things that take up the majority of your time, your interests and the places you spend your money, you can tell what is really in your heart.

Luke 12:34 (ESV) For where your treasure is, there will your heart be also.

The heart of the matter is really the matter of the heart. Where is yours? If you are struggling with your work, before you look at changing jobs, consider your heart because you’ll only take your trouble with you until you work with God as He is in the process of changing your heart to be conformed to His Son.

Romans 8:28–31 (ESV) — 28 And we know that for those who love God all things work together for good, for those who are called according to his purpose. 29 For those whom he foreknew he also predestined to be conformed to the image of his Son, in order that he might be the firstborn among many brothers. 30 And those whom he predestined he also called, and those whom he called he also justified, and those whom he justified he also glorified. 31 What then shall we say to these things? If God is for us, who can be against us?

Godspeed,

Bob Brubaker

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