Elder John Leong

Republished from Tabernacle Bible-Presbyterian Church Weekly, 17 July 2005, Vol. 6 No. 29/52, With Editions and Updates by Pastor

Today, I would like to share with you about the biblical perspective of work that I read recently from an article.

Gradually, our youths are going into the workforce and it is important that they are prepared to enter a new phase in their lives and still walk closely with the Lord. We should be careful not to have these two erroneous thoughts about work – “work is secular, so I will put in minimal effort and focus all my energy on spiritual things”; or “work is extremely important in my life and I will give all my time and effort to excel only in it”.

Let us first understand that work is not evil and is not a curse due to the fall of Adam and Eve. It was God Himself who ordained and defined the work that Adam needed to do before his fall into sin (Gen. 1:28). Adam was called to be fruitful and multiply, to replenish the earth and have dominion over the living creatures found in the earth. If work is evil, God would not have called Adam to work. Furthermore, the Bible says that God Himself also worked and is still working. It was God Himself who worked in the creation of the whole universe. If God worked to create the world and is still working to maintain it, then work cannot be evil as God never does anything that is evil.

However, with the fall of man, God pronounced a curse which affected our work (Genesis 3:17-19). The ground from which man will earn a living is now cursed, bringing up thorns and thistles. This signifies the hindrances that would hamper people’s efforts in their work. In other words, the earth would not be as cooperative as it had been. Nothing goes smoothly anymore. Problems and difficulties become part of everyone’s work. People must labour hard to put bread upon the table. All of us will have to toil the rest of our lives till we die.

Can we regain the joy of work today? Only if we look to Jesus and do all things for Him, for the chief end of man is to glorify God and to enjoy Him forever (1 Cor. 10:31).

Though work is now difficult and laborious, yet it is God’s mandate that we should not stop working. We must continue to work hard to fulfil the purpose that God has for our lives. “If any man would not work, neither should he eat” (2 Thess. 3:10b). We must also know that there is no satisfaction in one’s pursuit for the material things in life as the reason of his labour. There is no satisfaction or comfort when we work with the aim of getting more and more riches. As life progresses, our wants will become our needs. For example, the refrigerator was once a luxury item, now nearly every household cannot live without one. A mobile phone was something of a luxury 25 years ago. However, nearly everyone in Singapore has a smartphone today. In fact, according to an article published in Today on 11 February 2015, Singapore was ranked highest in smartphone penetration with nine out of every 10 Singaporeans having a smartphone. What was once a luxury is now regarded as a necessity! Can you live without your smartphone?

How can man be satisfied? We can only achieve satisfaction in our work when we accept with contentment the portion which the Lord has blessed us. Be also wary of the love of riches, which can creep into our work. It will soon lead to sorrow. Rather, we must learn to appreciate and be thankful to God for His blessings in our work. “But godliness with contentment is great gain. For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out. And having food and raiment let us be therewith content. But they that will be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and hurtful lusts, which drown men in destruction and perdition. For 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.” (1 Tim. 6:6-10)

The Apostle Paul also reminded us that when we labour in our workplaces, we are serving Christ. For the Christian, there is no segregation be-tween the secular and the spiritual. Every aspect of our lives must be lived for Christ, and this includes our “secular” work. “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” (Eph. 6:5-6). We work not because we want to please our boss, but because we want to find acceptance in God who has called us to the work. Be like Daniel – we can never cease to be a spiritual man in our places of work. Let satisfaction and service unto God be the keys to your work ethics.

Do not grumble when your work is a haze;
And stumble when riches you chase.
But humble yourself in your work,
For you are in God’s gaze.

Text: 2 Corinthians 7:2-4; 6:11-13

Paul now returns to his theme in 2 Corinthians 6:11-13. Once again, he declares his love and concern for the Corinthian Christians. This time round, he declares to the Corinthians “that ye are in our hearts to die and live with you.” (v.2). Paul is proclaiming that whether he lives or die, it is for the interest of the Corinthians.

Paul’s heart is that of a true pastor. Just like our wonderful Shepherd Jesus Christ was willing to lay down his life for the sheep (Jn 10:15), the Apostle Paul was also willing to lay down his life for the flock of God. “Greater love hath no man than this, that a man lay down his life for his friends.” (Jn. 15:13)

On the other hand, the Corinthian Christians had initially narrowed their hearts for the Apostle Paul even though Paul did no wrong to them. They may not like what Paul had said and done, but he had conducted himself righteously in the sight of God and man. He had the spiritual welfare of the Corinthian Christians in his heart. If only they can continue to make room in their hearts to receive him!

The experience of Paul is perhaps the experience of many a pastor. A situation may have arisen which required warning and admonishment. Alas, the faithful preaching was not well-received, and the pastor ended up with many brickbats and hurtful words. How it must be in the pastor’s desire that the detractors may enlarge their hearts to him too.

Let us seek to be the joy of faithful pastors rather than their grief. Thankfully, the Corinthian Christians repented to the joy of the Apostle Paul. Heed the injunction of Hebrews 13:17 – “Obey them that have the rule over you, and submit yourselves: for they watch for your souls, as they that must give account, that they may do it with joy, and not with grief: for that is unprofitable for you.”

THOUGHT: Let there be godly affections among the brethren.
PRAYER: Lord, grant me a true and sincere affection for the brethren.

Yours affectionately,
Pastor Clement Chew