Crabtree Acres

"The Eleventh Commandment"

Exodus 20:9-10 “Six Days you shall labor and do all your work, but the seventh day is a Sabbath of the Lord your God …”

When we study the commandments of God, someone decided that there were ten of them, but I have often been confused about the count. For one thing, numbers 1 and 2 seem to belong together and that brings the count to 9, but when you read number 4, we seem to skip part of that one and concentrate only on the part about keeping the Sabbath holy. We forget the part in verse 9 about laboring for six days.

We live in a society that seems to hate work. We live for weekends and holidays and for “play time”. TGIF seems to be the catch phrase for Americans, but people in other cultures seem to have a different idea about work. It is sad to me that those people who know God miss the idea that God thrives on work. We don’t have a true picture of the creative, joyful God who delights in His work. I have heard some preachers say that when God rested on the Sabbath it was because He was finished with His work, but God continues to take a very active part in the creative process. Every time a new child is born or a new bird is hatched or a new fawn is born, God is at work. All life comes from God and God loves giving life to all creatures.

We also have a false picture of Adam as being carefree and walking around in the garden of Eden doing nothing but picking fruit off the trees when he was hungry, enjoying Eve’s company (because she had nothing else to do), and walking with God in the cool of the evening. If we read Genesis 2:15 we find that God gave Adam work to do on his first day in the garden. He was to cultivate it and keep it. This would have been an enjoyable and fulfilling thing for Adam. God actually brought all the animals that he formed from the ground (Genesis 2:19) and Adam was given the task of naming each one. The creativity of God was also in Adam and is a part of each one of His children. The difference between enjoyment of work and the drudgery of work came after sin came into the world and God cursed the ground to make work hard for men and women. But there is a Scripture in Genesis 8:21 that seems to indicate that after God destroyed and changed the earth by flooding it, He decided not to curse the earth over again, because He knew that corruption was part of His creation. We know that God did not completely lift the curse of the ground, because thorns and thistles still grow, and gardening is still hard, but He certainly did not make the new earth after the flood any worse than before.

The entire purpose of God creating man was to have fellowship with him. There was fellowship when God brought each of the animals to Adam for naming. God and man were working together in the creative process. There was probably fellowship in many ways that are unmentioned in the Bible. God gave man a language that they could use to communicate with one another. Adam probably named all the plants that came up from the ground. God taught Adam what marriage was to be and probably about family life with Eve and their future children.

God also has a teaching quality about Himself and He expects us to use that quality as well. Over and over in the Bible are Scriptures about how older women are to teach younger women, fathers are to teach their children, ministers are to teach the flock, and on and on. Jesus Christ made it very clear that even adults need teaching. He was constantly teaching his disciples about Him and about God purpose and plan. Christ was in fellowship with them, just as God (maybe Christ Himself) had been with Adam. Jesus was the master teacher who used parables to teach his disciples. He used the familiar to teach the disciples, and through His word teach us, all about life and God’s character. He used examples like shepherd and their flocks, rich men vs. poor, salt, light, mustard seeds and many other familiar things to show us what God is really like.

One of the main problems with our societies view toward work is that we do not have a correct view of the purpose of work. We think of it as a way to earn money and buy things, but God’s view is clearly a form of fellowship with Him and allowing Him to have a part In the process of our work. God’s view of our work is to give us opportunities to serve him by serving others. He sees the job we do as a way to witness for Christ and to give us joy is seeing the change that comes from another person’s encounter with Christ through our lives. We are given the opportunity to be light and salt when we are on our jobs and that should give us pleasure.

I personally have always been the type of person who enjoyed working. I knew from a very early age that I wanted to be a teacher. I believe that the desire to teach was planted in me by God and I have been fulfilled by being allowed to do that. I know that God has been the major force in any ability to teach that I have had, because I really tended to be shy and afraid to get up in front of anyone when I was young and believe it or not, I still have that tendency. My teachers in school had no idea that the desire to teach was in my heart and certainly did not believe that I would ever be able to accomplish that goal. God knew and God provided the way for that desire to be fulfilled. I love the creativeness of teaching and seeing some student light up when they understand some difficult process in mathematics. But I also enjoy the creativeness of art and music and the creativity of crafts and seeing a dresser renewed by refinishing. Any ability I have in any area is from God; as I express those abilities I believe I am expressing the creative God that is in me, who gives me those abilities.

Each job that I have had over the years, whether homemaking or some professional job for which I have been paid, had been something that has been fulfilling for me. They have not always been easy, but God has blessed the work. When I homeschooled my children I can remember sending Greg a letter of resignation as teacher of our homeschool, because it was extremely difficult working with my own children at first. I was afraid of the authorities coming to our home and arresting us, since we were the only people in our county at the time who were home schooling. My children were used to thinking of me as a mother, but not as a teacher. We really struggled at first, but I realize now that nothing has been more valuable to us as a family as the time I spent getting to know my own children so well.

If we find ourselves miserable in our work there may be two reasons for the misery. One is we may not be in the right place. We may have taken a job only because of the money or the prestige it provides or because someone else pushed us into the position. Another reason for the misery is the lack of fellowship with God that should be part of the work we do. We cannot be in fellowship with God in a place where He does not want us to be. That fellowship with God should be the goal of every part of our lives, especially in our work.

We are rapidly becoming a society of non-workers, either by choice or not. What we are doing when we enable people to be paid without working is robbing people of the joy of seeing God work in their lives through the creative work they do with the Lord as their guide. We are no longer teaching our children the value of being creative in their play and in their school work. I heard a debate recently between two men who had total different views of the purpose of school. One man felt that school was designed to put information into the brains of children. He believed that because students are out of school in the summer, they miss out on valuable time of receiving this information for their future work and productivity in society. The other man felt very strongly that summer vacation from school was extremely valuable because it gives children time to have creative play and activities that bring out their best. School to him should be the time to teach children how to learn because learning is a lifetime activity. Twelve grades will never give students all the time they need to accumulate knowledge. Every day of our lives is a day of learning if we use it correctly. Yet, our society has come to a place where we are following routines that do not allow time for being quiet and communicating with the God of all wisdom and knowledge. We fill up our time with noise and activities that do not allow for creative thinking.

We were watching a program on television about a man named James Clerk Maxwell who came up with the formulas in mathematics that proved light, heat, magnetism and electricity were all parts of the electromagnetic spectrum that that were consistent and related to each other. This understanding paved the way for electricity in our homes, televisions, x-rays, cell phones – all electronics and probably was one of the most important discoveries in the history of science. I mentioned to Greg that I believed Maxwell must have been a Christian, because he made the assumption in the beginning of his experiments that God had created a consistent world with order, not confusion. Sure enough, when I looked on the Internet about Maxwell’s live, it stated very clearly that Maxwell’s mother was a devout Christian and had been his teacher before he went to the University in Scotland. He was also a very humble man and a devout Christian and remained one all his life. Other scientists who believed in God and worked with God to be creative were Isaac Newton, who created Calculus; Johannes Kepler, who came up with the three laws of planetary motion that we use for space travel; and many others. I am not trying to give a science lesson here, but I believe we need to realize that when God is at work in us and also in our work, we can be creative people who will be successful in the things we do. If science today were to make the correct assumptions to begin their work, I believe that they could come up with cures for many diseases like Pasteur or accomplish things that we cannot dream of. All the ideas for computers, for our communications systems, for the Internet came not as original ideas in themselves but are based on ideas that came before from many Christian men and women who had God at the core of their lives.

We should certainly be encouraging our children to know Christ and His creativity. I believe this would give them a purpose for their lives and a totally different attitude about work and its possibilities. Again, work should be much more than earning money. We must see it as an opportunity to serve God and fulfill His goals for our lives. God created each one of us for a purpose and we will only be at peace and content in our lives when we live our lives doing His will and fulfilling His purpose for us.