John MacArthur on Proverbs (Part 7) “Pursue your work”

Over and over in Proverbs you hear the words “fear the Lord.” In fact, some of he references are Proverbs 1:7, 29; 2:5; 8:13; 9:10;14:26,27; 15:16 and many more. Below is a sermon by John MacArthur from the Book of Luke on 3 reasons we should fear the Lord. (I have posted John MacArthur’s amazing sermon on the fulfillment of Old Testament scripture before on my blog.)

PART 7 of Proverbs series

I remember like yesterday when I first heard my former pastor Adrian Rogers first preach on the topic “God’s Grace in the Workplace.” That was the first time in his first 35 years of ministry that he had dedicated a complete message to the subject of how a Christian should look at his secular job.

Rogers noted, “Does work have eternal significance? Daniel may have wondered the same thing, as he was handling taxation, public relations, law enforcement, building projects, meetings and diplomacy. But yet he served God continually (see Daniel 6:16 and 20).”

Daniel 6:16-20

The Message (MSG)

16 The king caved in and ordered Daniel brought and thrown into the lions’ den. But he said to Daniel, “Your God, to whom you are so loyal, is going to get you out of this.”

17 A stone slab was placed over the opening of the den. The king sealed the cover with his signet ring and the signet rings of all his nobles, fixing Daniel’s fate.

18 The king then went back to his palace. He refused supper. He couldn’t sleep. He spent the night fasting.

19-20 At daybreak the king got up and hurried to the lions’ den. As he approached the den, he called out anxiously, “Daniel, servant of the living God, has your God, whom you serve so loyally, saved you from the lions?”

___________

It is during this time that Daniel became my favorite Bible character and I have spent lots of time studying about him.

John MacArthur

I remember hearing Dr. Adrian Rogers say that if he had to do it over again he would read from Proverbs every day to his kids. They turned out to be great kids and they were raised right. Nevertheless, if he had to do it over again he thought a more emphasis on Proverbs is the way to go. That is why I am spending so much time in Proverbs with my kids today.

John MacArthur does a great job on Proverbs and here is a portion of his sermon on Proverbs.

Number eight. Teach your sons…”Son, pursue your work…pursue your work.” Teach your boys how to work, father, by word and example. Look at the ant, he says in chapter 6, he’s giving this lesson to his son…Son, go to the ant, in verse 6 in chapter 6, and look at this ant, observe her ways and be wise, which having no chief officer or ruler. The first thing you want to do is teach your children how to work without a boss around, even an ant does that. Now your children will work if you stand there with a whip. But the issue is…will they if you won’t? Because they’re going to have to in life. And they also need to be taught how to plan ahead. The ant even knows to prepare her food in the summer anticipating the coming winter. She gathers her provision in the harvest. Teach them to work. How long will you lie down, O lazy son? When will you arise from your sleep? Get your children up. And they’ll say…a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest. Sure. And your poverty will come in like a vagabond and your need like an armed man.

You’re going to make yourself poor if you don’t learn how to work. Teach them to pursue work. A sluggard is a lazy man. He’s just an ordinary man really, with too many excuses, too many refusals, too many postponements. According to Proverbs the lazy man will suffer hunger, poverty, failure. Why? Because he sleeps through the harvest. He wants but he won’t work. He loves sleep, is glued to his bed and will follow worthless pursuits trying to get rich quick. On the other hand, the man who pursues his work earns a good living, has plenty of food, is rewarded for his effort and earns respect even before kings…it says in chapter 22 verse 29. Teach your sons to pursue their work…so very important.

Chapter 10 verse 4, “Poor is he who works with a negligent hand but the hand of the diligent makes rich. He who gathers in summer is a son who acts wisely. But he who sleeps in harvest is a son who acts shamefully. Teach your son to work and to plan ahead in his work.”

___________

God’s Grace In the Workplace

In all labour there is profit: but the talk of the lips tendeth only to penury.
Proverbs 14:23

So many people wake up in the morning, take a shower, scald their throat with a cup of coffee because they’re running a little late, fight traffic, and get to work. Then, they come home, take a couple of aspirin, watch the evening news, perhaps discuss a few things with a roommate or spouse, maybe putter around the house or yard a little bit, then go to bed.

Now, I’m not saying they don’t love and serve God, perhaps they do. But most of these people think the only time they serve God is when they get off work! They end up giving their prime time to the employer and their leftovers to God!

Jesus said, “No man can serve two masters: for either he will hate the one, and love the other; or else he will hold to the one, and despise the other. Ye cannot serve God and mammon” (Matthew 6:24). I call this split-level living.

You may think there’s nothing exciting about you or your job, but God takes ordinary people and He gives them extraordinary power to do extraordinary things for His glory!

Your job may be putting hub caps on tires. You may be keying data at a computer. You may be digging ditches or washing dishes. You may be doing one of a myriad of what you think are mundane things. But I want to tell you, if you are a Christian, your work is to be the temple of your devotion and the platform of your witness. Every Christian is a minister doing full-time Christian service.

The Sacredness of Everday Work

Your job does not become sacred when you become a minister, missionary, or a staff member of a Christian organization! Every job, if it is done in the power of the Holy Spirit, is a sacred job. Every one!

Let’s look at someone who lived this out from the Word of God – his name was Daniel. In the book of Daniel, we learn that he was taken captive by Nebuchadnezzar and carried to Babylon from Israel. There, he found a secular job as a government bureaucrat (see Daniel 8:27). The government trained him, then pressed him into service.

In this ordinary line of work, Daniel served the Lord Jesus. When Daniel was thrown into the lions’ den because he refused to bow to another god, King Nebuchadnezzar and many others came to believe in our Almighty God.

If you work in the name of Jesus, unto His glory, and in the power of the Holy Spirit, you will receive the same reward for doing that job that I receive for doing my job. God knows about you and is watching you. Every Christian, wherever he serves, is in full-time Christian work.

The SERVICE of Everday Work

Does work have eternal significance? Daniel may have wondered the same thing, as he was handling taxation, public relations, law enforcement, building projects, meetings and diplomacy. But yet he served God continually (see Daniel 6:16 and 20).

Even the home of Jesus was the cottage of a workingman. And whether He was mending plows or mending souls, Jesus was doing the work of God because people need houses to live in and furniture to sit on.

If you know you’re serving the Lord, that’ll put dignity in whatever you are doing: running a machine, greasing automobiles, typing letters, carrying mail, painting houses, digging ditches, cutting yards. Tell the Lord, “I’m doing it for You! And I’ll do it with all my might! As much as any missionary or preacher or evangelist!” That kind of attitude will put a spring in your step.

Simply said, God wants His people to prosper wherever He plants them. You are a priest of God, a minister of God, and in full-time Christian service, and if that doesn’t ring your bell, your clapper’s broken.

Remember, God uses ordinary people to do extraordinary things. Ephesians 3:20 promises that, “God is able to do exceeding abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that worketh in us.”


This article is taken from a sermon by Adrian Rogers

One final question: WHAT DOES THIS VERSE MEAN?

Proverbs 14:23

Amplified Bible (AMP)

23 In all labor there is profit, but idle talk leads only to poverty.

The Message (MSG)

23 Hard work always pays off;
mere talk puts no bread on the table.

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