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Fruitful Work

As a child I used to hear the phrase, “an idle mind is the devil’s workshop”. It was a daily reminder that work is good for us! And yet, there is something in all of us that loves to eat, sleep and play. The BBC reported this month that a man in New Zealand recent quit his job to play Pokemon Go full-time. Tom Currie worked at a seaside restaurant, but has decided to pack it all in to find digital creatures on his phone instead. He says he is relying on friends and family to help him out. His story has gone viral and now he is very famous for quitting work and just playing Pokemon Go.


Paul writing to the church at Ephesus reminds that rather than just stealing and Facebooking all day we must work: “Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work, doing something useful with their own hands, that they may have something to share with those in need” (Ephesians 4:28). Work according to Paul is “doing something useful with [our] own hands”. In other words, doing something that adds value or is fruitful!

Not all work adds value! Hollywood remind us constant that stealing is actually skillful hard work (just watch the film Inception again!). But according to the Bible it is not work because it adds no value. It seems in today’s society as long as your work is legal and earns money it is adding value. Anything from adult entertainment, casinos, seedy nightclubs and abortions clinics are all valued! On the flipside, a stay-at-home mum working hard to raise children against the odds with no pay, is regarded in government statistics as unemployed! 

In God’s eyes fruitful work is not about the level of your wages. It is using your time, skills and resources in a way that pleases God and for God’s glory! That  also means doing something with direct personal involvement and effort! This is what Paul means when he says “doing something with your own hands”.  It is not fruitful work if I pay my wife to go to work and I sit at home all day writing blogs! It is not fruitful work if you go into work and sit on your phone the whole time doing Whatsapp!

As followers of Jesus we must put effort in our work because it is who we are! God our Father is a fruitful worker and we must also be the same. As the Lord Jesus said, “My Father is always at his work to this very day, and I too am working.” God values work in his people. In fact throughout the Bible we see that the people that God called to serve Him were busy working when their call came. They were not lazying around. Moses was caring for sheep. Gideon was threshing wheat. David was mending his Father’s flock. Nehemiah was a cupbearer to King. Amos was a shepherd in Tekoa. Peter was a disciple. Matthew was a tax collector. Paul was a tentmaker! Jesus himself was a carpenter!

As followers of Jesus we must resist the temptation to depend on government handouts! We must resist just working the minimum in case it reduces our benefits or tax credits Living a life that seeks to avoid work selfishly may be smart in the eyes of the world, but it is foolish in the eyes of God. It is worldly wisdom. It is not who we are in Jesus. We are to work fruitfully no matter how little we are paid or what we lose in the process because our fruitful work matters to God.

It is also important to see that according to Paul the point of working is not selfish. We must work fruitfully in order to share with others.

Mike Ashley appeared before UK Parliament last month to face grilling over how he runs his company Sports Direct During the hearing, the Unions said, Sports Direct is run under ‘Victorian’ conditions (like Stalin’s Gulag). Employees are forced to come to work when sick and one woman gave birth in the toilets! Mike Ashley actually admitted he paid his workers below the minimum wage. The MPs concluded that “Mike Ashley has turned a blind eye to working conditions in the interest of maximising their pockets”! In short, he does his work selfishly!

The truth is that there is an element of Mike Ashley’s selfishness in all of us! Many of us regard our jobs and businesses as our personal property. Ask yourself, really, Why do you go work? It is certainly so that we food on the family table! That is a good thing. But it is also true many of us work to live as comfortable as - better houses; better holidays; better schools; etc! We are all trying to keep up with the Kardashians! We have cheapened work and turned into a purely selfish pursuit.

The Bible says our jobs are much more important than that! We must work hard so that we can share the fruit of our work with anyone in need! That includes a lot of people and situations! 

Anyone in need may be that boy who approaches you and says, “please help me buy bread because my mother and I have nothing to eat today”. It may be that sister who tells you that I have just lost my mother in Ghana, I need to travel - she hasn’t asked you for anything - but you know that you know she needs your help! Anyone in need is that woman four blocks down the road who everyone calls a “benefits scrounger”, and you have not taken time to hear her story of domestic abuse! It may be one of the many Syrian refugee families looking for housing. 

Our natural inclination is to ignore people with such needs. We like to say - someone else will do it! But Paul says, you are that someone! Use your time, money and resources to help others. God wants us to do this because it is who we are in Christ. 

God our Father deeply loves to meet the needs of his people. God is always giving towards you. Everyday, He is daily bearing up your burdens! Every minute,  He is caring for you! Every second, He is showering you with His love. He never gives up loving you. As he says in Jeremiah, “I have loved you with an everlasting love". And we have seen this amazing giving love of God so powerfully demonstrate through the gift of Jesus! What does the most famous verse in the Bible say? For God so loved the world…...and did what?

God gave us His son while we were spiritually bankrupt. We were nothing but dirty sinners! In fact it was worse than that. It’s like you were dead and people had gathered for your funeral. Then Jesus walked in and said, “Stop the funeral!”. He walked over to your dead corpse and raised you from the dead and gave you a new life in him. That is what Jesus has done spiritually for all who trust Him.

So if you belong to Christ, you too must now use all the resources that God has given you to invest in the lives of others. I like what Apostle John says in 1 John 3:16 - 18: "This is how we know what love is: Jesus Christ laid down his life for us. And we ought to lay down our lives for our brothers and sisters. If anyone has material possessions and sees a brother or sister in need but has no pity on them, how can the love of God be in that person? Dear children, let us not love with words or speech but with actions and in truth". Paul would be quick to agree and say, let us not love with words but with our fruitful work because we are children of God.

So here is the question for you to ask yourself this week : How am I using my life and work to invest in the lives of people with needs around me?

Copyright © Chola Mukanga 2016

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