“In the sweat of your face you shall eat bread till you return to the ground, for out of it you were taken; For dust you are, and to dust you shall return.” (Genesis 3:19, NKJV)
From creation, God gave mankind authority to subdue the earth. But, with the introduction of sin, that task became must more laborious and demanding, until finally, this body wears out and dies. By physical exertion we must meet the tasks of the day, while unavoidably moving toward the time when we will work no more. Our mortality teaches us to use our time wisely. It draws our attention to a crucial decision: Shall we only live for what is decaying (this physical life), or shall we live so as to prepare ourselves for immortality? We are not only dust; our spirit will return to God who gave it (Eccl. 12:7). Will you have access to the tree of life in the heavenly garden of God? Or, will you reap the corruption of sin that you have sown on this earth? This choice belongs to each of us. Choose your priority wisely Jesus said, “Do not labor for the food which perishes, but for the food which endures to everlasting life, which the Son of Man will give you” (Jno. 6:27). The food of this world perishes. A life that follows Jesus reaps everlasting life.
10 For even when we were with you, we commanded you this: If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat. 11 For we hear that there are some who walk among you in a disorderly manner, not working at all, but are busybodies. (2 Thessalonians 3:10–11, NKJV)
God has given us clear commands to work (1 Thess. 4:11). Labor has been central to mankind’s existence from creation (Gen. 2:15; 3:17-19; Eccl. 5:18). By it, one provides life’s necessities for himself and his family (1 Tim. 5:8). Labor gives us the ability to “have something to give him who has need” (Eph. 4:28). And, being engaged in labor helps keep us from sinful pursuits, such as becoming a gossiping busybody like some of the Thessalonian Christians. Their refusal to work was disorderly, and meddling in the affairs of others compounded their sin. God’s commands are for our good, offering us temporal advantages here on earth as they live for heaven.
8 All things are full of labor; Man cannot express it. The eye is not satisfied with seeing, Nor the ear filled with hearing. 9 That which has been is what will be, That which is done is what will be done, And there is nothing new under the sun. 10 Is there anything of which it may be said, “See, this is new”? It has already been in ancient times before us. (Ecclesiastes 1:8-10)
The old adage rings true, “The more things change, the more they stay the same.” Life “under the sun” brings nothing that is truly new. Human beings have benefited from labor since the beginning of the creation, yet it is obvious that labor does not satisfy every longing of the heart. This is not said to discount labor, but to emphasize that expecting to meet all of one’s desires through labor is unrealistic. There remains a yearning for something more – to know more, to be more – that labor does not fill. The purpose of your life and the satisfaction for which you yearn will be found when you fear God and keep His commandments (Ecclesiastes 12:13).
Let him who stole steal no longer, but rather let him labor, working with his hands what is good, that he may have something to give him who has need. (Ephesians 4:28)
Have you noticed how often people steal from others? For example, employees steal from their employers by not giving a full day’s work for a full day’s wages. Many people steal in order to support other harmful activities like drug abuse. Many people believe it is not really stealing if what they take from another person will never be missed. That is so wrong. Stealing, regardless of the amount or the reason, is a sin against God. Theft violates the principle of brotherly kindness by failing to treat others as we wish to be treated. It also shows disrespect for God and His will that we be honest and work to support ourselves and to assist those in need. Labor, not looting, is a hallmark of the converted. Be a person who is defined by the integrity of honest labor and not the shame of dishonest thievery.