As we consider how the family functions on a daily basis, work and rest can be observed from different points of view by different members within the family. Let’s say that as the father comes home from being at work all day which is in a different location from his home, the home can easily become a place of rest, but for the Mother who has been teaching her children, preparing food, washing clothes, etc, it becomes much harder to draw a distinctive line between where the work ends and where the rest begins.
What happens in the home
Since it is apparent that the home is a place of work and rest for the Mother and where the father might feel that he has done his day’s work, and now home, he is in a place of rest. The children can face the same tension as their Mother if educated at home, and they can feel the same as the Father if they have been out at school all day. The distinction which must be made is not just a distinction of time and activity, with a certain time and activity being devoted to working and the other being devoted to rest and recreation. That work is only that which happens outside of the home and resting is something which we only do in the home. If we define work and rest in this way, where work only ever happens outside the home, we can easily overlook the hard work which happens in the home and if we don’t recognise that the home is also a place of rest then those who come home from a hard day’s work can feel that their working day is always being extended.
There is a type of work within the home that all members must recognise and something to which they must contribute. There is also a type of work which Fathers, Mothers and Children will go out of the home to do and when this happens the temptation would be for each member of the household to fall into the trap of thinking that the home is only a place of rest, which it isn’t. Running a home takes a lot of work and it is a distinct work, therefore it is important that parents teach their children about the importance of work, the different types of work and the different locations that different types of work will be carried out. If the home has become only a place of rest, then many of those lessons which need to happen will not happen.
Preparing ourselves and our Children for work
When God created man and woman He created them to work and work which existed before the fall was easier that the work which would come after the fall, but the call to work remained. Adam was given lots to do and His wife also, as they engaged in work they understood that everything which God created was good but it was not complete. God created the world with the potential for many other things to be created, and as we have seen with the creation of machines, planes trains, cars, computers and a whole lot more, we have the creation of new forms of work. People are employed in ways today that they weren’t a hundred years ago but this doesn’t mean that all forms of work and employment have the purposes of God in mind.
As we think about the importance of work we are not to think about it as something which is to be separated from us bring glory to God through what we do. When Paul made an income through tent-making in order to fund the work of missions, we recognise Paul’s commitment to the work. what we should not conclude is that a comparison is being made between which type of work is more important to God. Therefore, it is important to know ourself and to teach children that the work which we believe God has called us to, whether that be the work of a nurse, carpenter, farmer or fisherman and many more, that this work is only serving the purpose of paying bills and providing us with an income to do our own thing. When in the eyes of God it is so much more, it’s more because He made us for this and whatever we do we are to do to the glory of God.
We learn from Genesis that work became much harder because of the fall, the ground is harder to farm and those who work do so with sin in their hearts and this will affect the work they do. This is why Paul in Ephesians gives clear instructions to employers and employees, it is also why we can hear the words “a bad workman blames his tools”. Sin is present in our work and it is, therefore, something which we must deal with. When we teach children about the importance of work and teach them the skills to work, they will need to learn where the problems are located. Those who blame their tools when there is nothing wrong with their tools are failing to locate where the actual problem is to be found. Blaming the tools you have for not getting the work completed is very different from not being able to complete the work because you don’t have the right tools. The difference between a reason and an excuse can be hard to see when you don’t see where the actual problem is located and what is actually the problem.
In Proverbs chapter ten we are taught that the slack hand causes poverty and the hand of the diligent make rich. The son who farmed the land with his father quickly learnt the connection between sowing and reaping, that the work completed in one month would be harvested in another and therefore if the work of sowing did not happen then there would be no harvest to look forward to. Work provided benefits and there were no benefits without work, and when the son inherited the farm, he understood that the wealth he was inheriting was something which would require him to continue in work. Therefore it was easy to see how the diligent hand-produced material blessings and how the slack hand-produced nothing.
The challenges today are different but the principle remains the same, those who work and find ways to complete as much work as possible will be those who have diligent hands, and those who have diligent hands will be those who will be blessed by the Lord in their work.
The birds and the ants
While it’s true that God provides for us by enabling us to provide for ourselves, this has to be understood within the context of the fallen world that we live in. Psalm 127 explains how the sons go out with their father to do business at the gate, they do this so that the father in his old age would not be taken advantage of in the trade. Work is what God has given to us in order to give many other things through our work, as this happens we notice how God takes care of the birds of the air, who neither sow nor reap but God provides for them. We should also notice that God calls us in wisdom to pay attention to the ant, who works without a ruler telling her to do so and in doing so she prepares and provides.
In this fallen world we will see those who prosper without really doing much work but the general rule is that “a little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest, and poverty will come upon you like an armed robber, and want like an armed man” (Prov 6:10-11). God made us to work and the work he gave us is what we use to bring glory to Him.