1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 (NLT) "Make it a goal to live a quiet life, minding your own business and working with your hands, just as we instructed you before. Then people who are not Christians will respect the way you live, and you will not need to depend on others."
Paul is instructing the people of Thessalonica on how to live lives that are pleasing to God. He starts by telling them to stay free from sexual sins, to be holy, to love one another, and then he tells us to.... get to work?
I thought a bit about what it must've been like in Paul's time... although the settings and cultural changes are obvious, there were basically two types of people back then; those who went out to work and make a living for themselves and their families, and those who didn't. Those who didn't were the beggars and others depending on the charity and generosity of others.
It's not much different today. We have so much more things nowadays, and modern tools and technology have taken a lot of the toil from many of our tasks, but the bottom line is the same--there are those who choose to keep themselves busy in a vocation or trade, and there are those who choose not to work, and resort to begging, panhandling, and hustling for handouts.
I believe Paul is calling for believers, then, and now, to, if it is at all possible, put ourselves to work. He didn't want the followers of Christ to be seen by the unbelieving public as freeloaders and hustlers!
While we do not work as a means to salvation (that has already been given by God's grace through Jesus Christ), we should take it upon ourselves to present a fresh, employable, diligent example of what God would see in His excellent workmen.
Such is the case with my own life today. God has blessed me with a body that functions well, good health overall, and enough upstairs in the head to learn and practice skills, old and new.
An industrious life honors God. A good work ethic can be one of the most effective ways to reach out to unbelievers; everybody respects honest hard work! Not to become a workaholic, but to make the most of my time when working.
Whether it's working behind a computer, preaching from a pulpit, working behind a lawn mower, or working underneath a car or truck, God deserves my best efforts at the work I'm called to do at the moment. Mediocre, half-hearted work is just as poor in spirit as sitting and waiting for a handout. I must do the best I can with what I have to work with.
That will always be one of my goals, to work "at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men". (Colossians 3:23) Because in the big picture, it is the LORD who I serve in whatever I do for work.
Lord Jesus, I work. Not FOR salvation, but because You have already redeemed me and found me worthy of Your grace, mercy, and blessings. Help me to live a life that is a prime example of how Paul tells us to live, in a manner that pleases and honors You.