Your Job Matters to God – Part 6

Before I begin this final blog in my six-part series on the value of hard work, I want to pay tribute to hard-working mothers.  And, I want to give special thanks to the mothers who have chosen the highest career of all,  stay-at-home-moms.  No one has contributed more to our culture than the conscientious women who dedicate their time and energy to training their children to know the Lord Jesus Christ and to grow up to be decent, dependable, industrious citizens of our country.

Thanks! And Happy Mother’s Day!

Your Job Matters to God – Part 6 
God placed Adam and Eve in the Garden of Eden and gave them work to do. The Heavenly Father created human beings with an innate need to work to: enhance their self-esteem, develop their character, influence others, and please Him.

One final reason God designed us to work is that our job benefits others.  If you do a good job, you make money and can buy goods and services from others. You pay people to mow your grass, dry clean your shirts, cook your food, fix your plumbing, or entertain you. And that enriches their lives. If your business grows to the point where you hire employees for your company, you can bless others with a good job.

There has been an assault on the profit motive in recent years. Some consider profit synonymous with greed and corruption. After all, the Bible says, “The love of money is the root of all kinds of evil.”  So we often hear snarky comments about the evil rich and the corrupt corporations as though they are the primary enemies of the common man.  Admittedly some corporate executives have exploited the system and become illegitimately wealthy on the backs of their laborers.

But the Bible also warns against the hoarding of money.  I like the way THE MESSAGE paraphrases Ecclesiastes 11:2, “Don’t hoard your goods; spread them around. Be a blessing to others.” When profit is made legitimately, and money is spent wisely the entire community benefits. Where would my hometown of Louisville, Kentucky be without Ford Motor Company, General Electric, United Parcel Service, and YUM! Brands making a profit?

No single economic system is ordained by God, but the free enterprise system has been used by God over the last two centuries to bless millions in America.  When I was in grade school, we studied about the value of capitalism.  We read Horatio Alger stories about poor people becoming rich in America.  Ambition and creativity were praised as important virtues.

There’s a member of our church who is in the pest control business.  One evening another church member saw him out on the edge of town releasing a raccoon he had captured from under someone’s porch.  The onlooker said, “I thought you killed those varmints once you trapped them.”  The pest control worker quipped, “Oh, no!  I don’t want to do that. This raccoon might occupy two or three other houses in the course of a lifetime. I don’t want to jeopardize my livelihood!”

America has been the land of unlimited opportunity.  The vast majority of people who became rich did so because they offered goods or services that helped people.  Henry Ford made it possible for the average person to own a car.  John D. Rockefeller provided cheaper gasoline. Truett Cathy provided inexpensive, fast food.  Bill Gates made it easy to use software.  Sam Walton provided less expensive goods.

Oprah Winfrey rose from a dirt-poor beginning to become the queen of television talk shows. She’s worth an estimated 3.1 billion dollars and still expanding her net worth.  She reportedly gives away millions to charity each year.  That’s possible because she found a way to entertain and inform the lives of millions of viewers.

We shouldn’t resent the wealth of successful people.  Because when they thrive, millions find employment, the economy improves, and people are better off.  I have a young grandson who recently got married and is currently looking for a job.  I hope there is a wealthy man in his community whose business is thriving and who will hire him.  Our family certainly isn’t opposed to the profit motive these days.

One of the primary ways we benefit others when we make money is by being generous with our resources.  If it weren’t for generous contributions from wealthy people and corporations, our community would not have most of its hospitals, inner-city missions, service organizations and Christian Churches.  A reasonable profit is beneficial to others when it produces liberality.

After I had moved to Louisville, Kentucky as a twenty-two-year-old preacher, the Vice President of a cabinet company encouraged me to buy a house. “We like what you’re doing for our church,” he said confidentially. “We want you to stay for a long time, so you need to buy a home rather than just rent an apartment.”  When I explained that I didn’t have any money for a down-payment, he generously offered to loan me the money.

A few weeks later my wife and I found a $23,000, three bedroom home we really liked.  I informed him I needed $4000 down to buy the house.  When he agreed, I asked how I should pay him back.  He responded, “Whatever you decide to do is fine.” I’m embarrassed to admit it, but I paid him back $35 a month over the next ten years.  I never missed a payment, and he never said a word to anyone.

Twenty-one years later I sold that house for three times the purchase price.  I’m grateful for an ambitious man who began on the ground floor of a furniture company and worked hard.  He was promoted and made a significant amount of money.  In turn, he became increasingly generous with our church and with me as well.

That doesn’t happen if people don’t work hard and make a profit.  The Apostle Paul wrote, “In everything I did, I showed you that by this kind of hard work we must help the weak, remembering the words the Lord Jesus himself said: ‘It is more blessed to give than to receive.’” (Acts 20:35)

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