A Sermon on Work

Look Up When Others are Looking Down, Part 4

Leading The Way

Christian talk radio with Michael Youssef

February 23, 2023

My cmnt: It is so rare to hear a sermon on work that I can’t even remember the last time I heard one. I recommend that you chk the category “Prager U – Dennis Prager” on this website for lots of interesting articles comparing capitalism to socialism.

My cmnt: I have transcribed this from the audio sermon. If there are errors they are mine. You can hear the original sermon by clicking on the link highlighted above. I have taken the liberty of editing this sermon for clarity.

My cmnt: I have stated elsewhere that the only difference between work and play is whether or not you enjoy doing it. I will add the caveat that another difference between work and play is that you can stop playing when you tire of it.

My cmnt: I have also compiled two lists of Scriptures on Work that you can view here and here.

Now you know and I know that there are many people that view work as a necessary evil. Just generally speaking they think of work as a necessary evil. Years ago I saw a bumper sticker that said, I owe, I owe, so off to work I go. Well that’s just not correct. But even there are Christians who mistakenly believe that work is a curse. That is associated with Adam’s sin and fall into sin.

But if they really understand the Scriptures and they look at Gen chap 2 carefully they will discover that it is not so. 

Gen 2 shows that before the Fall – the Lord God took the man and put him in the Garden of Eden to work and take care of it. Before Adam fell into sin, before the fall, Adam was working in the Garden. And that work was honorable, that work was healthy, that work was pleasurable in the Garden.

It was only after Adam and Eve had sinned that there were some changes in the environment of work, not the work itself, but changes in nature, in the weather, in crop failure, in weeds making work hard and toilsome. By the sweat of our brows. 

I’m fully convinced that in Heaven we will not be sitting around playing a harp or something – in the New Heaven and the New Earth we will be working and it will be a joy. Work is not a curse it is a blessing. 

Here’s a historical fact. When the Christian faith burst into the scene in the pagan Roman empire Christians elevated the status of honest work, of hard work. That was not known in pagan Rome. The Greco-Roman culture viewed physical labor as beneath their dignity. 

They imported two million slaves to do everything. Whether doctors, teachers, carpenters or whatever – they imported everybody to do their manual labor. 

By contrast the Bible from cover to cover teaches hard work. Hard work, productivity, investments, ownership, job creation, honest profit and prosperity are all honorable and consistent with the righteousness of God.

But there’s even more. When we work we imitate God. And bring glory to Him. God, the Bible says, worked for six days and then rested on the seventh day. 

Question: why does the imitation of God bring Him glory? Because when we are industrious, creative, productive we reflect the character of God in our lives. Amen? 

Conversely those who are able to work, can work, but refuse to work. They are not only dishonoring themselves but they are dishonoring their Creator. That is why those who support so-called social justice movements or redistribution of wealth (chuckles) are not Biblical Christians. They’re not Biblical Christians. 

The folks who want to tax work and productivity while subsidizing indolence and dependence are not Biblical Christians. In fact in 2nd Thes chap 3, vs 6 we see this very clearly. “In the name of the Jesus Christ we command you (what?) to keep away from every brother who does not live according to the teaching you received from us.”

See Paul is invoking none less than the authority of Jesus Christ Himself. Now here’s a simple principle you should always remember, ok, you should write it down. What you tax you get less of – you got that? What you subsidize you get more of. When you tax work and productivity you get less of it and when you subsidize laziness and dependence you get more laziness and dependence.  

In other words you are destroying the God given likeness of God in us as His creation. Because God honoring industriousness is stamped on our being. Who are created in God’s own image. Gen 1:31 – “God saw all He had made and it was very good.” It was very good.” God was pleased with His handiwork. He was pleased with the fruit of His labor. God as the landlord of creation took delight in His ownership of the created universe.

Please listen to me carefully. The social engineers with their social gospel, in order to be liked by the prevailing culture (huh) they’re dishonoring God and the Word of God. Just to inflate their egos they want to appear to this fallen culture as though they are more compassionate than God! Yet God is the one who created the natural order and that says, reward creativity and punish laziness. 

Listen to me. “Everyone gets a trophy” is Marist ideology and not Biblical Christianity. It is the height of folly to try to spin God’s natural order and invert God’s system of prosperity and fulfillment. 

Here’s a summary of a Biblical view of work. Listen carefully. I’m going to give you a summary. Here’s a truly Biblical view of work. Whether you are an employer or an employee you must take ownership of your work.

Did you get that? You must take ownership. Listen to what Paul said in Col 3:23 – Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for – whom? – the Lord. Not your human boss. For the Lord. You’re ultimately working for the real boss, who sees you 24/7 – He’s watching you. And when you understand this you will work with absolute integrity and honesty. You will not shortcut because you are working for yourself first and then for the Lord. Because in the long run God is the one who truly rewards you, God is the one who truly can reward you and reward your diligent faithfulness. 

When you see it this way you will receive satisfaction and contentment regardless of the task. Whether open heart surgery or swabbing the toilet. God is the one who rewards and is the only one who can ultimately give you contentment. And contentment is the gift of God. 

So if your earthly boss treats you unfairly you can be at peace because your real heavenly boss sees you and is the only one who can reward you accordingly.  

Paul also confidently say in 2 Thes 3:10 – Even when we were with you we gave you this rule – the one who is not willing to work shall not eat.

I know that someone is going to say, Michael, this is harsh. This is unloving. Isn’t it amazing? They are more loving than God (chuckles). But no, this is the height of love. Sometimes the worse thing you can do for some people is to shower them with compassion, is to meet all of their needs, is to solve all of their problems. Why? Because you are replacing God. And their dependence on God.

Now I hasten to say. This is not mean. Don’t miss this. Don’t miss this. It does not mean that there are not people who have genuine needs. I want to keep emphasizing this because I don’t want anyone to walk outside and say Michael hates the poor. But in the church in Thessalonica obviously there were some who were lazy and some who were freeloading on the hardworking people and the believers in that church feeding these freeloaders.

Sadly and I say very sadly in our culture the government takes care of that. Every Sunday we pray for our leaders. But by nature government, that is all governments, love to replace God and the church. Ask yourself why governments fail – twenty trillion dollars later. Since the day President Johnson said ’The Great Society’. Twenty trillion dollars have been spent and it’s still failing. Because governments, all governments, do not love people. Governments are set by God to exercise justice.

Governments love to control people. Governments love to make people dependent on them. Governments are not interested in people having dignity or self-respect or self-esteem, that’s not their interest. 

Ah, but the Church of Jesus Christ does. The believers do. And we want to help people have dignity and self-worth and self-respect and self-esteem. Beloved listen to me. The goal of any church discipline should be repentance and redemption – period. And that is why Paul uses the power of example – he says in vs 7 & 8 – he said, When I was with you I wasn’t idle I had to work and you saw how I lived. The example of Christians is very important. 

I could not preach to my kids growing up, at the time, good work ethics if I’m lazing off, putting my feet up. Beloved I believe with all my heart we can witness with our lives as much as we can witness with our words.

Let me repeat what I said earlier. The absolute necessity of helping the true needy. Please let me say Amen. The welfare system started and was created for that very purpose. In fact it was to be a safety net for the true needy not a hammock for the too lazy. 

In the last msg we saw how the Apostle’s burden for the Church was stability. Remember that? Stability. It’s always been the burden of the Apostle Paul and you see it in all of his writings. Stability and harmony in the Church was very important to the Apostle Paul. And that is why he writes here in vs 11 & 12, he says, We hear that some among you are idle and disruptive. Disruptive. They are not busy working but busy bodies. Such people we command (not suggest) we command in the Lord Jesus Christ to settle down and earn the bread they eat.   

The English translators did a good job. I love the contrast between the busy and the busy bodies. People who are busy working do not have the time to be disruptive and divisive in the body of Christ. Lazy people seem to have all the time in the world to go around sowing discord, spreading gossip and making a nuisance of themselves. And that my beloved friends causes destabilization in the Church. 

Another way that these idle folks bring dishonor to the Church of Jesus Christ is that they make it difficult for the church to distinguish between the truly needy and the ones who are not. We are called, this might be the fourth time that I’ve said this – we are called to give with generosity to those who cannot care for themselves. 

Finally the Apostle Paul uses a terminology here that we have completely disavowed in our modern day culture. That is because we are confused, we are very much confused regarding the concept of shame. The word shame is used deliberately by the Apostle – vs 14 – Do not associate with them in order that they might feel ashamed. I want to explain this to you in a way that you must understand it. 

What we have done because we don’t like that word we have thrown out the baby with the bathwater and made the word to be bad. But really there is a good reason why it is negative. There’s a good reason why this word is a negative word and I’m going to tell you why. It is tragic, it is tragic, when children or even adults become emotionally paralyzed due to what I call toxic shame. It’s a tragedy. It’s a tragedy. Especially shame that they do not deserve. Especially shame that we inflicted on them by abusers. 

Let me give you a personal opinion. I think those who abuse children should face the death penalty. No appeals, no appeals. But having the capacity to feel shame, even when it’s between you and the Lord – is a good thing.  

There are times when I’m even alone, perhaps watching television and I’ll stop and I’ll say, Lord I’m so embarrassed that that even came out of my mouth. And if I say it in front of people I immediately, I repent. Because I’m ashamed that I would even allow my mind to have words come out of my mouth like that. But if it leads to repentance it is a healthy shame, not toxic shame. 

When Adam and Eve sinned and realized that they were naked what did they try to do? They tried to coverup their sin. It didn’t work. Sin has only one cure and that is confession and repentance. One cure to sin – all sin. 

Vs 15, do not regard these as an enemy but warn him as a brother. Love, genuine love, real love, Biblical love, has to be our true motive. 

In Gal 6:1 Paul says, If someone is caught in sin restore him gently. Sadly there are many legalistic churches of which I know some who would shoot their wounded. They shoot their wounded instead of restoring them gently. It is loving restoration that we must, must, must long for and practice. Why? For just as we rejoice in the fact that our Heavenly Father forgave us all our sins when we repent, when we repent. Now if a person does not repent and is not repentant, that is a whole different ball game. We want them to rejoice when we forgive them just as we rejoice in our own forgiveness when we repent. 

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