Sunday, March 3, 2019

The Christian Work Ethic

2 Thess. 3:1-5 - Paul  1) requests their prayers
                                  2)  expresses confidence in their walk

THEN - abruptly changes tone!!  2 Thess. 3:6-15
(talking about people who are capable and competent to hold down a job)

This = briefly addressed in the 1st. letter - 1 Thess. 4:11-12

Question:  Is this an ongoing problem in the Thessalonian church?  Is it related to Christ's return?  (they expected Christ would return immediately, so why work?)

Answer:  don't know.  But, DO know ...
(1)  Paul is intense in addressing this  (forceful language)
(2)  Paul addresses this as a significant MORAL issue!!

(1)  The language of 2 Thess. 3:6 and 2 Thess. 3:12 - "in the name of ..... command"
(2)  the charge to the church - 2 Thess. 3:13 - "you do what's right"  (by contrast)
(3)  the reference to church discipline - 2 Thess. 3:14

All adds up to this being a Serious issue!!!

This passage = a small part of Scripture used to define and describe - the Christian Work Ethic or the Biblical Work Ethic.
Which is largely ignored or misunderstood today, AND which needs to be taught and promoted!!

The phrase is self-defining:
WORK ETHIC = a moral view of work!  (the rights/wrongs)  Very seldom referred to as a Biblical Work Ethic.  No reference to Scripture.

The English phrase 1st. used in 1945, however the concept is as old as Adam.

Hebrew understanding = spend 1/3_ of life @ work (in many cases more than that)
So.... how to do it Right?

Their answer:  (1)  God sets the standard for us
                      (2)  God reveals the standard to us

Brief look at the Hebrew view in Proverbs:
          Prov. 10:4-5 -  disgraceful
          Prov. 10:26 -  irritating
          Prov. 12:11 - 'get rich quick' schemes
          Prov. 18:9 -  example from 'The Message' - "slack habits and sloppy work are as bad as vandalism"
          Prov. 20:4 - sluggard - lazy
          Prov. 22:29 - quality work = recognized and rewarded
Summary:  Prov. 24:30-34 -

This Old Testament view carried over into New Testament Christians, New Testament Church
With Additional word(s) from Christ & Apostles
1 Example:  Matt. 25:26 - "wicked, lazy servant" - harsh words

This comes to us in 21st. Century America by way of:
#1.  The Protestant Work Ethic  (Reformation, Luther, Calvin)
Example 'The Protestant Ethic and the Spirit of Capitalism' - Max Weber - 1905
Led to:
#2. The Puritan Work Ethic  (focus = godliness.  outcome = success!!) - part of the reformed movement
Led to:
#3.  The American Work Ethic - came directly out of the Puritan W.E. which came directly out of the Protestant W.E. which came directly out of the Scripture
ie:  became part of our social and cultural identity   Example:  "The American Dream"

Problem today = (1)  Biblical roots are unknown, forgotten, misunderstood
(2)  "work ethic" appears on the wane (declining)
IF roots = forgotten/denied...
Attitude = THEN  why embrace a former generation's "Work Ethic"???

BUT - for Christians!!! this should be no dilemma!  Should be Biblical/Scriptural Work Ethic.  Honor God by work habits.  Are obligated to God's revelation, God's plan.

2 Notes:  #1.  Biblical Work Ethic addresses far more than work hard!!
              #2.  Labor (alone) does not commend you to God!!

Distinguish:  (1)  How you come to God - Eph. 2:8-9
           with  (2)  How you live after coming to Christ - Eph. 2:10

Biblical Work Ethic addresses more than "work hard".
Related issues:
honesty, integrity, dependability
giving your employer an honest day's work
giving your employees a fair day's wage
quality workmanship, productivity
self-discipline, personal responsibility
community obligations - building wealth, sharing wealth, handling wealth  (stewardship)

Personal satisfaction with work
Rest from work!!
laying up wealth (treasures) in Heaven
Building up the Kingdom on earth!

And:  Work Ethic goes beyond vocation, paying job.  Includes how you work at marriage, childraising, in home - Prob. 31   "wife of noble character" - model Work Ethic!!

Your work/labor (in Christ) is very important, BUT your coming to God THROUGH Christ is essential!!

Closing Scripture:
Col. 3:23-24

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