“THE CURSE OF WORK” – August 16

August 18, 2013

“Now we command you, brothers, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you keep away from any brother who is walking in idleness and not in accord with the tradition that you received from us…Now such person we command and encourage in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living.”  2 Thessalonians 3:6, 3:12

Digging Ditch

Digging Ditch (Photo credit: Mozul)

I never realized the challenge of my parents.  They gave me chores.  They pushed and prodded me to complete my work; work that often sprang forth from their imagination.  Diabolical activities, motivated to make my life miserable.  They often succeeded.

I did not know what my parents were doing at the time.  I definitely did not appreciate their intentions.  I thought they were just profiting from free labor.

I now know that those hours in the sweltering sun produced more than a crooked fence, manicured lawn, or stacked hay.  My parents were building in me a work ethic.  They were teaching me what work feels like.

Work is a curse.  Labor does not feel good.  It might be rewarding.  It might feel satisfying but work by its very nature is work.  My natural inclination leans toward leisure.  I like vacations.  I enjoy a lazy Sunday afternoon.  Work often gets in the way of all the entertainment that I am drawn to.

However, work is so much more that earning a living and being responsible.  My parents were not teaching me to work only for the benefits of paycheck.  Work refines a very important spiritual discipline within us.  Work teaches us the spiritual gift of self-control.  That makes the curse of work a gift from our loving God.

God cursed work because we needed it to be cursed.  He had a purpose beyond punishment.

Idleness is all about self.  The sluggards are ruled by their selfish desires.  The lazy will prefer to sit and watch others work primarily because of a spiritual lack of self-control.  Self-control is a fruit of the Spirit.  It does not come to us naturally.  The sluggard lacks the self-control to turn from his natural desire toward self-gratification toward the service of others.

When God cursed work, He knew what He was doing.  He knew that man had a sinful heart whose greatest desire was going to be a love of self rather than God.  Self-love manifests itself in so many areas but our work ethic tends to be the most revealing. I would rather be served than to serve.  However, it is through work that the love for my neighbor can be seen.  It is through work that my love for God can be put on display.  When I am reclined in my idleness, all my words of theology are merely words.

Self-control spurs us out of the entropy of self-love and into service of others.  When work is intentional toward serving others, then we have a work ethic glorifying to God.

post hole

post hole (Photo credit: BarelyFitz)

I have now come full circle.  I am now the parent of a teenage son.  I have to get creative with tasks to make him sweat.  Hatching diabolical activities to make his life miserable is harder than I had thought.  It is often more work to get him to work than to just do the work. However, my efforts to make him work are about so much more than digging a few post holes.  It is about teaching him how to control a sinful and wayward heart.  The gift of God’s curse on work is a wonderful tool to tame the self-love of a sinful heart.  Work is good for his soul.

Someday, he will thank me.

PRAYER: Lord, thank you for your purpose behind work.  Help me to continue to learn the lessons of self-control in all the areas of my life including work. Lord, I want to be a good father to my son.  Help me to take the time to teach him how to work.  Give me the patience to continue to prod him along.  Father, do your work on his heart.  May your Spirit teach him self-control.  Grow in him the fruit of self-control so that he may glorify You in his service to others.  I pray this in the precious name of your Son,  Jesus Christ.   Amen.


  1. I was the M.O.M. to my boys…the Mean Old Mommie. We always had chores for them, we required them to find jobs if they wanted to get a drivers license, and taught them how to manage their money. They appreciate what things cost, and how much work is required for what they want. But we also worked along side them, and encouraged them to find their joy in what they accomplished for the day. We are meant to participate in this life, not just watch. Thanks for the great post! I’m sharing it with my boys!

    • M.O.M. – that is a good one. I am sure that your boys will appreciate all of your meanness once they get older.
      Thanks for you comments and encouragement.
      God Bless!

  2. This is such a great post! As a mother of two teenage sons I can certainly relate to the efforts required to instill a good work ethic in kids. Your insight also helped me view my own profession from a different perspective. It was just what I needed, thanks so much!

  3. Thank you for this post

  4. Thank you, JD, for highlighting the meaningful motivation behind work: A way to put on display my love for God. Reminds me of Colossians 3:23–All our work, even the menial, boring tasks, can be for Him. In the next verse comes the promise: “You will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.” Lord, remind me to check my attitude when the curse of work seems daunting!

  5. What a great post! Thank you.

  6. Thanks J D. No doubt he will thank you, and if he doesn’t you have still done your duty as a godly parent. Sometimes the two don’t meet up. I know I am so grateful for my parents for those kinds of things, and for actually teaching me the skills of cooking, cleaning and other ‘practical life’ activities. I agree, sometimes it is harder to come up with the work for them and to be patient as they do, than to just do it yourself. See, that’s part of our work…

    Maybe there are two sides to the work ‘coin’ though. We need to teach our children to work hard, even at those things that they dislike, find boring or aren’t particularly good at. However perhaps we also need to help our children learn to manage what they take on, and learn to take on what they can manage, if you will. As someone at the overactive end of the spectrum (not in a sporty way, in a ‘take on too much in life’ way!) I know all too well the consequences of severe burnout.

    My friend’s husband recently wrote an article on the subject of work for Themelios theological journal. You might be interested:


    I haven’t finished reading it as I keep getting distracted 🙂 but since you raised the subject you might enjoy it! Sherryn

  7. Awesome!

  8. A very thoughtful spiritual reflection. Well done.

  9. […] “THE CURSE OF WORK” – August 16 […]

  10. Reblogged this on Words of Life.

  11. Love this! I’m going to reblog it too! And send it to my sons. 🙂

  12. Reblogged this on One Starving Activist and commented:
    If you are or have been a young person, this is for you…

  13. Reblogged this on Through the Eyes of This Calvinist.

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