Vocational Work (Ephesians #28)

Text: Ephesians 4:28

Apparently Christians need to be reminded not to steal.  They take things home from work, and they goof off when they should be working.  Some Christians do not give to the ministry they and their family get spiritually fed from.  Unfortunately, selfishness was not eradicated the moment you and I were saved.  God wants us to work hard and then give to those in need.

As sin becomes more and more open in a culture the people lose respect for other people’s property.  A man asked a big employer, “How many men do you have working for you?”  He replied: “About half of them.”

A thief has no regard for another person’s life or livelihood.  In the Old Testament, if a thief was caught in the act of stealing and was killed, the householder would not be charged (Exodus 22:2).  If you’re a Christian thief, you’re greedy and lazy and you need to learn how to be hard working and generous.

When worldly people get a raise in income, they raise their standard of living.  But when godly people get a raise, they raise their standard of giving!

The current medical term for a thief is a kleptomaniac.  This is the Mayo Clinic’s description of Kleptomania.((https://www.mayoclinic.org/diseases-conditions/kleptomania/symptoms-causes/syc-20364732).  I’ve changed the word “Kleptomania” to the Bible term “sin.”

Sin is the recurrent inability to resist urges to steal items that he generally doesn’t really need and that usually have little value.

Sin is a type of impulse control disorder — a disorder that’s characterized by problems with emotional or behavioral self-control. Sin is an impulse control disorder, sin has difficulty resisting the temptation or drive to perform an act that’s excessive or harmful to you or someone else.

Many people with sin live lives of secret shame because they’re afraid to seek mental health treatment. Although there’s no cure for sin, treatment with medication or talk therapy (psychotherapy) may help to end the cycle of compulsive stealing.

Symptoms

Sin’s symptoms may include:

  • Inability to resist powerful urges to steal items that you don’t need
  • Feeling increased tension, anxiety or arousal leading up to the theft
  • Feeling pleasure, relief or gratification while stealing
  • Feeling terrible guilt, remorse, self-loathing, shame or fear of arrest after the theft
  • Return of the urges and a repetition of the kleptomania cycle

 

Work and generosity are the Holy Spirit’s remedy

  • “He just can’t help it” is not accepted by God.  You wouldn’t say the same thing if we were dealing with adultery.
  • Though the Mayo Clinic says there is no remedy for a compulsive thief – “there’s no cure for kleptomania, treatment with medication or psychotherapy may help to end the cycle of compulsive stealing,”- God said there is a remedy.
  • On the other end of the spectrum, the remedy is not to read more Bible or pray more.  The remedy is go to work.  Get a job.  Keep your job.  Don’t quit your job.  And when you get paid, be sure you look for someone you can give to.  Why?  It’s easier to keep a job when you are supplying someone else’s needs through your work.
  • It’s easy to think of spiritual activities as the will of God, but being a good employee is just as spiritual and just as much the will of God as prayer.  Visiting with college helpers at camp this year.  Some of them were in the ministry program and talked about secular work as though it was not God’s will.

Benefits of work

  • Work gives you the right to eat
    • 2 Thessalonians 3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.
    • True spiritually as well.  Folks enjoy spiritual food who have not put any effort to labouring in the ministry.
    • Paul worked in the ministry as well as in a vocation as he needed to.
    • Acts 20:33-35 these hands have ministered unto my necessities
  • Work gives you a good testimony
    • 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 And that ye study to be quiet, and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands, as we commanded you; That ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, and that ye may have lack of nothing.
    • One of the best opportunities to be a good witness is at work (Acts 18:1-3).  They may not understand spiritual things, but they understand a man who works hard.
    • Show up to work on time.  Do a good job.  Don’t complain.
  • Work gives you an opportunity to be generous
    • That he may have to give to him that needeth…
    • Blessedness of giving – Your labor gives you an opportunity to be a blessing.
    • When you deal with Christians the excuse is God.  Instead of learning how to work or to save or to handle money the Christian makes it spiritual, “Well, God will provide.”
    • 1 Thessalonians 2:9 For ye remember, brethren, our labour and travail: for labouring night and day, because we would not be chargeable unto any of you, we preached unto you the gospel of God.

Work for the Lord

  • It’s not what you do, it’s that you serve the Lord.  Who you’re working for is more important than WHAT you’re doing.  The question is not what do you do, but WHO are you working for?  What do you want to do when you grow up is a secondary question to “Who are you working for?”
  • You are told one time in the Bible what Paul’s occupation was.  He was a tentmaker according to Acts 18:3.  Does anyone know what Philemon did?  He had above average wealth.  Do you know what he did?  No.  Neither do I because the Bible doesn’t tell you.  It does tell you what he did with his resources.  He housed the Colossian church in his home.
  • Ephesians 6:5-9 – notice how Biblical Christianity changes your work ethic
    • 6:5 …as unto the Lord
    • 6:6 …doing the will of God from the heart
    • 6:7 …as to the Lord, and not to men
    • 6:8 …shall he receive of the Lord
    • 6:9 – masters (employers) …knowing that one is your Master in heaven
  • Hard work and generosity keep you from breaking God’s law and hurting other people.  It will also yield reward from the Lord.  Proverbs 22:29 Seest thou a man diligent in his business? he shall stand before kings; he shall not stand before mean men.
    • If you do your work unto the Lord you will do better work.
    • Saying yes to the higher calling of doing everything you do as unto the Lord answers most other questions.
      • I know a bivocational pastor who drives a school bus to make a living.  He does it so he can serve the Lord.
      • I know an executive that made good money in his life and bought and lot of stuff with it.  He doesn’t serve the Lord.
      • That pastor that drives the school bus gets more done driving that school bus than that executive got done with his executive job.  The difference is who you are working for.  Which one will come out more profitable when it’s all said and done?  That tells you the most important thing is not what you did, but who you serve.
    • Romans 12:11 Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;