A Right Understanding of Why Men Are to Labor Well in a Day of Evil

Good Morning,

Being young and invincible in some ways is the best part of life. Understanding that you are not is the first step towards maturity. I grew up in a time when it was common to office banter to hear the local dad joke connoisseur come up to you while you were getting a cup of coffee and say, “Hey Ben, you working hard or are you hardly working?”. There are days where I am glad I do not work in an office. Those days end in “y”. God made me a little bit to be a lone ranger, that has its benefits and has caused me problems in the past. Few things were more annoying as a corporate drone than forced small talk when I just wanted to do what I was there to do and go home. When God ordered Adam to tend to the Garden He did so in the context of Adam’s pure heart and soul, which had not been stained with sin. There was a kind of joy to his labor that became a drudgery after he broke the covenant of works, and all humanity then fell with him.

In today’s prayer and worship help we are going to dovetail into talking more about men and church, but this time from a point of view that wants to help all of us think some more about what the Lord would have us to be and to do in light of His marvelous grace, and the promised eternity which comes through Jesus Christ alone. Seeing the future as more than one’s own lifetime changes how we approach labor and life. It also is meant to remind us that the world is bigger than either ourselves or our earthly existence. Walking by a graveyard every day has the habit of reminding me that the moment is limited and what we do and who we are will largely be forgotten in a few generations. Not to make this more morose than it needs to be, but it’s part of asking the question concerning how we are to approach the time that God gives us, and why what we do in the Lord’s house on the Lord’s Day has more than a weekly benefit.

Getting back to work habits for a second the apostle Paul tells us in Ephesians 5:16 that we are to redeem the time because the days are evil. What he means by that is not that there is something sinful about Mondays. (Monday is my favorite non-Sunday day of the week). Paul’s point is to say that as Christians the more we face the world with eyes that understand the nature of who we are and what we need and what that means in living in a world that is seeking at every moment to destroy itself the better we will be at actually making good use of it. In other words believers are to approach work with a mindset which understands that we work hard for others, and not just those who are living now. I think we can all look back in our own family histories where some of our forefathers were handed blessings they did not earn because of the sweat of the brow of a grandfather. Yet it’s also the case that some of our grandfathers had to reinvent the family name because their dad fell on his face and was crushed by the wickedness of his own heart and the world around him. Both are helpful in their own way in encouraging us to make proper use of the time God has providentially provided in this life.

Stonewall Jackson, the other famous person from Clarksburg, WV besides myself (and also my third great uncle, John W. Davis who ran for President and was walloped by Calvin Coolidge in 1924), had a student of his at Virginia Military Institute come up to him and ask Jackson for advice on how to manage life. The stout Presbyterian gave the following answer:

I have so fixed the habit in my own mind that I never raise a glass of water to my lips without a moment’s asking of God’s blessing. I never seal a letter without putting a word of prayer under the seal. I never take a letter from the post without a brief sending of my thoughts heavenward. I never change classes in the section room without a minute’s petition on the cadets who go out and those who come in.

Seeing every moment as a gift changes the importance of every moment. It at the same provides us with encouragement that there is never a dull day, only misused opportunities and challenges us to think heavenly thoughts about the most mundane things. Take Stonewall’s statement that he never sends a letter without a word of prayer accompanying it. Is that superstition? No, it’s a recognition that all the providential needs to get that letter from point A to point B is governed by the king of the universe and it is both right and proper to not only give thanks, but that our communications are likewise to always be in the mindset that God oversees the love we have for another. Working in light of the eternal mercy and grace of the Lord has such a profound effect on how we come to do and to be in Christ’s blessed presence. It may sound like a lot of effort to be sure. Yet what else are we saying and doing when we take a drink or see someone on the street? Would it not be better to mutter prayers than imprecations?

In closing, we’ve said all this to get us finally to the end, the purpose, of men and church. A life which is lived in light of God and His sovereign will not only understands death and its meaning, but will take up that cross and follow after Jesus. “For whoever desires to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for My sake will find it.” – Matt. 16:25. The real reason why men need to be in church is the same reason why all of us do. Our actions and attitudes about the calling of God to us in the work that we do, and understanding more deeply the glory of a life lived not for yourself, or for this present evil world, but for the honor of the life to come is what makes a Christian man work hard for his family, for his faith, and for his kith and kin. There is something greater than himself in the labors he does every day, if every man lived so boldly, and with such humility, imagine where we would be today?

A Last Word:

https://www.desiringgod.org/articles/good-men-work-hard-and-sleep-well

Blessings in Christ,

Rev. Benjamin Glaser

Pastor, Bethany ARP Church

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