Transcribed By Connie Albers
July 4, 1946 – Reprinted July 7, 1977
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This week we will give the readers a sort of a sermon, using for a text the words of Paul in 2 Thes. 3:10. “For this have we commanded you, that if any would not work neither should he eat.”
In the beginning God said: “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground.” Gen. 3:19. This shows that the Maker of man expected him to work and labor and toil that he might have bread as well as the other things needed in this life. God is able to furnish us with all our temporal needs without work on our part if He so desires. In fact in the wilderness where farming was out of the question, God did rain down food from Heaven, and also made the clothing of the children of Israel to wear for forty long years. Deut. 8:5,4. We sometimes wonder how the women of that day and time managed to get along without a new dress, hat or shoes for forty years. We are sure that many of them must have complained bitterly if the nature of the “weaker vessel” has not changed greatly since that distant time, 3, 500 years ago.
But God does not now propose to feed people from Heaven nor to furnish clothing as he did to the first pair in Eden, after the fall. He plans now to let us all work for our living, to “eat bread in the sweat of our faces.” Now nothing in this article is to be taken as a reflection upon those who are not able to work, nor upon those who have labored hard in other year s and have been able to lay up for themselves such a competence that they are not longer required to work, although we do believe that such persons would be happier if they continued to labor and work rather than to idle away the rest of their days.
But we do wish to try to impress upon those who ought to work and we believe that every person physically able to work ought to work, the evils of not working, the evils of not working. The text says that it is a command that we work, and that those who will not work should not eat. This is a fair proposition and one that any reader of reasonable intelligence can understand. This I not merely what Gregory thinks about the matter, but it is first of all a fiat from the Almighty, and He has never revoked it and never will so long as time may last. Secondly, it is the command of an inspired man of God, Paul. Third, it is universally recognized that labor and toil are the means by which all the good that has been accomplished, and the property rightly accumulated, have been secured. A nation of loafers is a nation in name only and will soon fall. If nobody worked more than millions of our nation do, all of us would starve to death. We have the sorry picture of millions working, toiling, laboring until they are bent in body and worn out, while other millions are wasting their time in idleness, and living off the labors of somebody else.
Suppose we look through the Bible and see what else God has had to say about this matter of not working. Paul said that he worked day and night, not to be chargeable to any. But today practically half of our American people are chargeable to the other half, the working half. But it is surely a hard proposition to collect from the idlers, the loafers, the drones, the lazy and the shiftless what they owe to us who have fed them for years and years. There is perhaps no law in this world by which we can collect what our lazy and shiftless loafers have eaten off the rest of us, but we have a feeling that somewhere they will be called on to give an account of having taken the other fellow’s food and devoured that for which they never labored. Paul said he worked with his own hands. Even a minister ought not to be above laboring and toiling.
Paul further says that some “walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.” 2 Thes.3:11. The next verse reads: “Now them that are such we command and exhort by our Lord Jesus Christ, that with quietness they work, and eat their own bread.” So again we see that it is a command to work, just as much it is a command that we abstain from stealing, lying or other evils condemned in the Bible. Note that Paul said: “Eat their own bread.” This simply means that those who will not work and have not worked are eating somebody else’s bread. There are two ways in which one may eat the other fellow’s food. One is by stealing it and the other is by the gift or generosity of the man who made it. Most of the givers of their hard-earned food and other things to the lazy rascals of the world are getting mighty sore of have to work one day for themselves and the next day to take care of the sorry, shiftless, lazy, no account, able-bodied man or woman who is able to work, but had rather loaf than labor, whose motto is “Gimme.” Now somebody might doubt if the workers of today are laboring one day for themselves and the next day for loafer, the chiseler, the lazy and trifling. Well, it seems now that only about half our able-bodied men and women are at work, but this leaves the other half not at work. The non-workers are eating what they have not worked for nor earned. Whose labors produced what they eat? Theirs? Certainly not. Then whose? The laboring and working class have had to feed them. This is equivalent to working one day for one’s self and the next day for the loafer. It is a very unfair situation that curses us, a situation that is killing the industrious and bringing them to an early grave. If everybody worked and did his part, nobody would have to do on the average more than about half what the average worker of today does – that is, feed himself and one non-worker. Would that not be a fine situation if all the workers of today could work just half as hard, just half as long, just half as often as we do now. We could do it if all the lazy hordes of our country were put to work. They claim they cannot get a job. We do not believe their claim. We believe they had rather ride the backs of the laboring group than to get out and dig for a living. The steward of Luke 16:3, said: “I cannot dig.” This is the general theme along which runs the mind of the millions of our able-bodied non-working citizen.
Eph.4:28 says: “Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labor, working with his own hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.”
There is at least a hint in this verse that the man who eats that for which he has not labored and which he has not earned in a way, is guilty of stealing.
The Bible calls these non-workers who are too trifling to work, sluggards, sloths and perhaps other names equally as odious. Rom.12:11, says: “Not slothful in business.” 1 Thes.4:11 says: “And that ye study to be quiet and to do your own business, and to work with you own hands as I commanded you; that ye may walk honestly toward them that are without, ant that ye may have lack of nothing.” Here we are reminded again of the commandment of God to work, and further, that as followers of the Lord, able to work and needing to work, but will not, does not walk honestly before the world. In other words, the world counts him dishonest.
Perhaps Solomon, the wise man, had more to say about laziness and unwillingness to work than any other writer in the Bible. Here are some quotations from what he said. Prov. 18:9. “He that is slothful in his work is brother to him that is a great waster.” Prov. 19:24, “A slothful man hideth his hand in his bosom, and will not so much as bring it to his mouth again.” Prov. 21:25-26, “The desire of the slothful killeth him; for his hands refuse to labor. He coveteth greedily all the day long; but the righteous giveth and spareth not.”
Prov. 22:13. “The slothful man saith, ‘There is a lion without, I shall be slain in the streets.’” Prov. 26:13-16, “The slothful man said, ‘There is a lion in the way; a lion is in the streets.’ As the door turneth upon his hinges, so doth the the slothful upon his bed. The slothful man hiding his hand in his bosom; it grieveth him to bring it again to his mouth. The sluggard is wiser in his own conceit than seven men that can render a reason.”
Prov. 6:6-10, “Go to the ant, thou sluggard; consider her ways, and be wise; Which having no guide, overseer or ruler, Provideth her meat in the summer, and gathereth her food in the harvest. How long wilt thou sleep, O sluggard? When wilt thou arise out of they sleep? Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep: So shall they poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.” Prov. 10:26. “As vinegar to the teeth and as smoke to the eyes, so is the sluggard to them that send him.”
Prov. 19:15, “Slothfulness casteth into a deep sleep, and an idle soul shall suffer hunger.” Prov. 20:4. “The sluggard will not plow by reason of the cold; therefore, shall he beg in harvest, and have nothing.” Prov. 24:30-34, “I went by the field of the slouthful, and by the vineyard of the man void of understanding; and lo, it was all grown over with thorns, and nettles and covered the face thereof, and the stone wall thereof was broken down. Then I saw and considered it well. I looked upon it and received instruction. Yet a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to sleep; So shall thy poverty come as one that traveleth, and thy want as an armed man.”
Ec. 10:18. “By much slothfulness the building decayeth; through idleness of the hands the house droppeth through.” Prov. 10:4-5, He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand; but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. He that gathereth in summer is a wise son; but he that sleepeth in harvest is a son that causeth shame.” Prov. 28:19. “He that tilleth the land shall have plenty of bread: but he that followeth after vain persons shall have poverty enough.”
Prov. 20:13, “Love not sleep, lest thou come to poverty; open thine eyes, and thou shalt be satisfied with bread.” Prov. 21:17, “ He that loveth pleasure shall be a poor man.”
The reader should not forget that slothfulness is the Bible name for laziness and indolence. And you are requested to remember that the above quotations are not ours, but they set forth in part what God thinks of the lazy, shiftless, indolent group that eats, but does not work; that lives but on somebody else’s sweat.
Our government has done much in the past few years to encourage an attitude of do nothing. There are, today, far more inducements offered by the government to quit work and become a government dependent, than the government offers by way of encouragement to those who believe that man shall eat bread in the sweat of his face, and who have the pride of making their own living, and who have backbone and guts enough not to sit down on the other fellow and ask to be supported by him while such “Supportees” play through life’s brightest opportunities, fold their hands and sleep and slumber and rise and eat the other fellow’s hard earned grub.