hard work in earning a living

Most everyone has to work for a living and most of the work we have to do has some degree of toil and difficulty. A motto nowadays which can be considered a maxim holding some wisdom is “Don’t work hard, but work smart.” Literally I wouldn’t agree with it, since no matter how smart you work, you should work hard at it, as well. But we should make our work as efficient as possible. That stands to reason for both maximum productivity in terms of output and quality.

For some of us for one reason or another, or likely a number of reasons, we find that life hasn’t fallen out the way we (or anyone) would want it. Some of that can be our own doing, and some of it purely circumstantial, of course figuring God’s working and providential care into that equation. We find that we’re up against it, that unless some break comes (short of winning the lottery, which people like me have no possibility of winning) we may have to work in earning money as long as we are able. In America this is a problem to some degree for many baby boomers as they/we begin to reach the set retirement age (65-67).

One might think of Paul as a man certainly devoted to the gospel and the proclamation of it, an apostle sent to evangelize in preaching that gospel and oversee the churches taking root and growing especially among the Gentiles (Paul considered the apostle to the Gentiles, even as Peter was considered the apostle to the Jews- Galatians 2:7-8) and therefore a man who surely did not have to work for a living, not that faithfulness in preaching the gospel and overseeing the churches isn’t hard work, because most certainly it is. That is not to say that the Lord’s yoke is heavy (Matthew 11:28-30), it is only to say that in God’s grace one can work hard, a different subject and tack altogether (1 Corinthians 15:9-10). Paul does indeed say that those who preach the gospel ought to get their living from that work, in other words be supported by believers (1 Corinthians 9:11-14). Interestingly Paul knew what it was to live well by God’s grace in either scarcity or plenty. None of this nullifies God’s promise to meet our needs as we remain devoted to the cause of the gospel (Philippians 4:12-13, click to see the entire passage, verses 10-20).

Of course we want to live honorably and die honorably. And how we live in regard to material wealth, our giving, our saving so we can give more as well as support the needs of our loved ones- is not to be underestimated in its importance (see 1 Timothy 5:8).

So baby boomers like myself can take some comfort and refuge as well as instruction in Paul’s outlook and what he did (Acts 20:34-35; 1 Corinthians 4:12; 1 Thessalonians 2:9; 2 Thessalonians 3:8). And what he expected of the churches (for example 1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). In the equation it should go without saying that one shouldn’t spend and give (move out) more than they earn (move in). That can be tricky in that we may not be aware of all the expenses either present or possible in the unknown future (even just over the horizon). And so it is important to plan well so that one can live as honorably as possible in love for the Lord and for our neighbor both present and future. And in whatever place one lives, whether rich or poor, we can and should be generous in the grace of giving (see 2 Corinthians 8:1-15), as we continue in the work God provides for us as well as our calling in the mission of Christ.