Labor or Service? 

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Fall

“Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work.” (Deuteronomy 5:13)

The term “labor” to many seems to connote drudgery or routine, repetitive, demeaning toil. As used here in the fourth of God’s Ten Commandments, however, the Hebrew word abad means rather to “serve” and is so translated 214 times in the King James. Only one other time is it translated “labor,” and that is in the first rendering of the commandments (Exodus 20:9). Thus, the command could well be read: “Six days shalt thou serve. . . .”

Furthermore, the word for “work” (Hebrew melakah) does not denote servile labor but “deputyship” or “stewardship.” The one whom we are to serve or act as deputy for, of course, is God Himself when we do our work. In the ultimate and very real sense, the Lord is our employer, and we serve Him, not man.

Therefore, “whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men” (Colossians 3:23). Every honest occupation, if carried out for the Lord’s sake and to His glory, is “divine service,” and every Christian who holds this perspective on his or her work (be it preaching, or bookkeeping, or homemaking, or whatever) is in the Christian ministry—for “ministry” simply means “service.”

Note also that God has ordained not a four-day or five-day workweek: “Six days thou shalt labour, and do all thy work,” He says, thus commemorating the six days in which He worked in the beginning, “for in six days the LORD made heaven and earth” (Exodus 31:17).

One day, Lord willing, we shall hear Him say, “Well done, thou good and faithful servant: . . . enter thou into the joy of thy Lord” (Matthew 25:21). Then, throughout the ages to come, “his servants shall serve him” (Revelation 22:3) with everlasting joy. HMM