March / June 1995 The President’s Column – God’s command to work still stands! It is not up to the individual whether he wants to work or not
From the March / June 1995 issue of The Concordia Lutheran
The President’s Column
One of my members recently told me about a welfare case reported by David Brinkley the last Sunday in January. He stated that 27 years ago an unmarried woman came from Puerto Rico to Boston Mass. where she received public welfare and public housing. She had 17 children, 74 grandchildren and 15 great grandchildren. Very few of them ever worked. It costs the taxpayers 1 million dollars a year to support this large clan.
The State of Wisconsin has enacted an innovative program referred to as “two-years-and-out” which many hold may be a solution to the waste in our welfare system. At the present time the United States Congress is considering various bills to remedy what is often referred to as “the welfare scandal.”
We Christians know how to correct this deplorable situation which turns many welfare recipients into parasites of society. The answer is given to us by God Himself in His Word – work! When God created our first parents and placed them in the Garden of Eden, they were not to lead an inactive life. On the contrary, “the Lord God took the man, and put him into the garden of Eden to dress it and to keep it” (Gen. 2:15). Prior to their fall into sin, work was not a chore but a marvelous joy. After they had fallen, however, the situation changed. What had been a delight would now, because of sin, cause man hardship and weariness. The Lord told Adam, “Because thou hast hearkened unto the voice of thy wife, and hast eaten of the tree, of which I commanded thee, saying, Thou shalt not eat of it: cursed is the ground for thy sake; in sorrow shalt thou eat of it all the days of thy life. Thorns also and thistles shall it bring forth to thee; and thou shalt eat the herb of the field; in the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return” (Gen. 3:17-19).
God’s command to work still stands! It is not up to the individual whether he wants to work or not – here is God’s plain command that we work. The Apostle Paul reminds the members of the Thessalonian congregation, “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” (2 Thess. 3:10-12). The Lord says to the lazy, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise: which having no guide, overseer, or ruler, provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? when wilt thou arise out of thy sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: so shall thy poverty come as one that travelleth, and thy want as an armed man” (Prov. 6:6-11).
It is the responsibility of the father to work in order to support himself and his family. And “if any provide not for his own, and specially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith, and is worse than an infidel” (1 Tim. 5:8). Not that the father must provide his family with the “cake and all the trimmings,” but with the necessities of life. “Having food and raiment let us be therewith content” (1 Tim. 6:8). The command to work refers not only to the husband and father but also to the wife and mother. She is to be diligent and faithful in taking care of her household duties. If they are lazy housewives and despise God’s command, then “they learn to be idle, wandering about from house to house; and not only idle, but tattlers also and busybodies, speaking things which they ought not” (1 Tim. 5:13). Laziness brings with it many other sins! The old adage certainly applies: “An idle mind is the devil’s paradise.”
Thus we Christians should look upon work not merely as a burden, a discipline, nor even as a means of earning a living, but as a God-pleasing service, no matter how lowly it may appear in the eyes of men, as long as it is done out of love to our dear Lord Jesus who loved us and gave Himself for us. “Let every man abide in the same calling wherein he was called. Art thou called being a servant? Care not for it; but if thou mayest be made free, use it rather. For he that is called in the Lord, being a servant, is the Lord’s freeman; likewise also he that is called being free is Christ’s servant” (1 Cor. 7:20-22). And to the members of the Ephesian congregation the Apostle writes, “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 men-pleasers, 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; knowing that whatsoever good thing any man doeth, the same shall he receive of the Lord, whether he be bond or free” (6:5-8).
We are to work not only to provide for our own families but also to help the poor and the needy. The Lord Jesus tells us, “Give to him that asketh thee” … (Matt. 5:42) – those that are truly in need and not those who are able to work and refuse to work because of laziness. The Apostle Paul echoes these words when he writes, “as we have therefore opportunity, let us do good unto all men, especially unto them who are of the household of faith” (Gal. 6:10). “Withhold not good from them to whom it is due, when it is in the power of thine hand to do it. Say not unto thy neighbour, Go, and come again, and tomorrow I will give; when thou hast it by thee” (Prov. 3:27,28). These are all fruits of a living faith in Jesus who redeemed us from sin, death and everlasting destruction.
Where such fruits of faith are lacking, it is to be feared that true faith in the Savior is dead, for “faith without works is dead” (James 2:26). And look at the example which the Apostle James gives! “If a brother or sister be naked, and destitute of daily food, and one of you say unto them, Depart in peace, be ye warmed and filled; notwithstanding ye give them not those things which are needful to the body; what doth it profit?” (2: 15,16).
How fitting that we include the words of the hymnwriter in our morning prayers –
Crown all our labors with success,
Each one in his own calling bless.
May all we do or think or say
Exalt and praise Thee, Lord, this day!
Your servant in Christ,
Pastor M. L. Natterer, President