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A Spiritual Work Ethic

By Sister Shannon Shafer
For Our Young People

Work. It is a necessary thing, but how many of us like the sound of that word? Some people will do anything to avoid having to do work, but without work nothing will get accomplished. Though doing work is not always enjoyable or pleasant, there is a sense of satisfaction and fulfillment that one can only feel who has been willing to put some effort into a task that needs doing and get their hands dirty.

Spiritually speaking, in order to succeed in staying saved, we must work at it. Staying saved is not for the lazy.

Work is repetitive. It is many times, doing the same thing over and over again that a certain result may be achieved.

Some repetitive things are:

  • Reading
  • Studying God’s Word
  • Praying
  • Attending services
  • Attending young people’s services

We may not always emotionally feel like doing these things, but we must cast feelings aside and do them to maintain our relationship with God.

Do you have a spiritual work ethic? 

The term “work ethic” is defined as: a set of values centered on the importance of doing work and reflected especially in a desire or determination to work hard.

Jude 1:20-21 says, “But ye, beloved, building up yourselves on your most holy faith, praying in the Holy Ghost, Keep yourselves in the love of God, looking for the mercy of our Lord Jesus Christ unto eternal life.”

When we got saved, we laid the foundation, but we must work and continue to build ourselves up in our relationship with God.

Peter tells us of some of things we must add to our experience if we want to be successful. 2 Peter 1:5-7, “And beside this, giving all diligence, add to your faith virtue; and to virtue knowledge; And to knowledge temperance; and to temperance patience; and to patience godliness; And to godliness brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness charity.”

Staying saved is a building project with eternal consequences.

I want to liken our building project with that of Nehemiah’s in Nehemiah, the fourth chapter. Just as we are working on building our experience with God, Nehemiah was also engaged in a very important building project: rebuilding the walls of Jerusalem. Many of the oppositions that he faced can be likened to those that we face today. 

When Nehemiah arrived in Jerusalem, it was in a deplorable condition. The walls were broken down and the gates burned. As Nehemiah and his crew began to work, they were soon harassed by enemies.

Nehemiah 4:1-2, “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat heard that we builded the wall, he was wroth, and took great indignation, and mocked the Jews. And he spake before his brethren and the army of Samaria, and said, What do these feeble Jews? will they fortify themselves? will they sacrifice? will they make in end in a day? will they revive the stones out of the heaps of the rubbish which are burned?”

Isn’t that like the devil? He wants to mock us and make us feel feeble and unable to build. Sometimes mocking can come from unbelieving friends or family, which is the hardest to bear. 

Remember this: God said in Philippians 4:13, “I can do all things through Christ which strengtheneth me.”

In response to the mocking, Nehemiah prayed and then continued to build. He knew that he could continue through the strength that God would give him, not by his own strength.

Nehemiah 4:6, “So built we the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto the half thereof: for the people had a mind to work.”

Nehemiah and those helping him were determined to keep going no matter what. They had a mind to keep working.

Verses 7-8, “But it came to pass, that when Sanballat, and Tobiah, and the Arabians, and the Ammonites, and the Ashdodites, heard that the walls of Jerusalem were made up, and that the breaches began to be stopped, then they were very wroth, And conspired all of them together to come and to fight against Jerusalem, and to hinder it.”

Sometimes hinderances come our way. Hinderances come in many forms, perhaps in the form of temptations, accusations, or some difficult situation.

What happens when hinderances are allowed to work? Discouragement.

Verse 10, “And Judah said, The strength of the bearers of burdens is decayed, and there is much rubbish; so that we are not able to build the wall.”

But Nehemiah said (verse 14), “And I looked, and rose up, and said unto the nobles, and to the rulers, and to the rest of the people, Be not ye afraid of them: remember the Lord, which is great and terrible, and fight for your brethren, your sons, and your daughters, your wives, and your houses.”

Remember God when you are discouraged. Allow prayer and His Word to give you courage. Do not be weakened by hinderances.

Nehemiah and the people then resorted to building with a weapon in hand.

Verse 17, “They which builded on the wall, and they that bare burdens, with those that laded, every one with one of his hands wrought in the work, and with the other hand held a weapon.”

Ephesians 6:17 tells us that the “sword” of the Spirit is the Word of God. “And take the helmet of salvation, and the sword of the Spirit, which is the word of God.”

It is necessary to keep our sword (or our promises from the Word of God) by our side to use against the enemy as we build.

Nehemiah 6:15, “So the wall was finished in the twenty and fifth day of the month Elul, in fifty and two days.”

As an example to us of great perseverance and a powerful work ethic, Nehemiah and the people sweated, suffered and endured much opposition and fear, but because of their steadfast trust in God and hard work, they in the end achieved their desired result.

Our desired result is heaven. Let us continue to work at building our experience with perseverance and at all costs, so that we may be successful, just as Nehemiah was.

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