WORK AND WAGES AND MORE
Jesus laid down the principles. But what if no work exists?
by Jennifer Slattery
I grew up in a non-Christian home filled with tension and
fighting. My parents divorced after I left the house, but our
family had fallen apart long before then. Things began to unravel
when my dad, a teacher in Oregon, lost work. We lived off credit
cards for a while, then turned to state assistance. Without
Christ's love to unite us, we began to lash out at each other.
Dad found a job up north within a year, but the seeds of
bitterness planted during his unemployment bore fruit. Anger
filled our home. Family meals turned hostile, then were
abandoned. We became strangers in passing. I blamed our broken
family on my dad's job loss.
If only he'd been able to stay teaching in Oregon, everything
would've been fine.
When I married, I determined not to allow my family to go
down the same destructive paths of my parents' home. I had it
down to a carefully fixed schedule. If my husband and I went on x
number of dates, spent y number of hours in family activity, read
our Bibles each night, led regular family devotions, and watched
our budget, our family would be unbreakable. The habits I worked
so hard to create and maintain were good in many respects, but I
allowed them to dominate our lives.
Despite my plans, everything unraveled in a flash when
unemployment came again. I felt like a scared, lonely child,
certain it was only a matter of time before my worst fears came
true and my family fell apart, just as my childhood family had.
Our savings dwindled, and I grew increasingly depressed. My
husband and I took temporary jobs, but they didn't keep up with
our expenses. We realized we needed to sell the house, quickly.
As we loaded our belongings into storage units and put our house
on the market, my depression deepened and painful memories from
my childhood merged with fears of the present.
One day while I stood in the kitchen recovering from a fit of
tears and about to launch another, my husband turned me to him
and said, "I need you to be strong." His eyes were moist with
unshed tears, and in that moment I realized I had been so wrapped
up in myself, I had failed to see my husband's pain and how badly
he needed me to stand beside him.
A few days later, I came across Proverbs 14:1: "The wise woman
builds her house, but the foolish pulls it down with her hands."
I realized God was giving me a choice: I could continue to spiral
further into depression, tearing my family down with my own
hands, or I could turn to God and trust in Him, showing my
daughter what it means to live by faith.
From that moment on, I determined to draw near to God and be
strong for my husband. It is amazing how much more man-
ageable fears are when you place them in God's hands and quit
feeding them with one negative thought after another. The fears
didn't go away entirely, but when they'd arise, I took my
thoughts captive and focused on God's truth instead. My fears
weakened and my faith grew.
For the next few months, we turned to one another and to God. We
clung to Bible verses that spoke of God's faithfulness, and
openly talked about His power and love. As a result, the same
event that had destroyed my childhood family actually
strengthened my adult family.
Today, five years later, my husband and I are stronger than ever,
as is our family, because Christ held and continues to hold us
together. But what is more, having relived the events that caused
me such pain as a child, I experienced God's deep healing. He
removed the fear of family failure that had consumed me for so
long and placed in its stead a deep peace.
The reason my childhood family fell apart wasn't because my dad
lost his job or we had to move. It was because we tried to walk
through our trials alone. My husband and I committed ourselves to
not make the same mistake. We still cherish date nights and
family time, and we still seek to raise our daughter on God's
Word. But we do so with a deep sense of peace, knowing that no
matter what happens, God will see us through.
Jennifer Slattery writes from Kansas City, MO.
And that is what it takes friends, putting your faith and trust
in God, knowing He will give you the strength to march on, to
fight the good fight, to figure things out, when the figures are
messed up. I think of the many, thousands of blacks in America,
who went to church, sang about God, gave Him praises, and had
faith that one day they would have a better home in the USA, that
they would be recognized as the creation of God just as much as
the whites. It was not easy for them, it took time, it took
patience on their part, it took faith, it took their effort also
to move in the right directions, it took leaders like Martin
Luther King and others, who through peace, did move in the right
directions. And the God of heaven heard their cries to Him, and
He answered. So whatever your situation now, look to Him who is
able to help and guide you through what this physical life may
throw at you.
LABOR DAY, GOD'S WAY
Seven Bible teachings regarding work.
1. Rather than having a punitive purpose, manual labor in
Scripture is a positive element of God's best plan for man
in His image: "the LORD God took the man and put him in the
garden ... to tend and keep it" (Genesis 2:15).
2. Only after sin entered human experience was routine work, both
manual and mental, experienced as difficult, tedious, painful,
and failure-prone: "Cursed is the ground for your sake ..."
3. A person's due diligence and best effort should be given to
his/her work; laziness and sloth lead soon enough to poverty and
destruction: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your
might" (Ecclesiastes 9:10; see also Proverbs 10:4; 13:4; 14:23;
18:9; 19:15; Romans 12:11; 1 Thessalonians 4:11).
4. Human labor that is unrelated to the higher values of God's
kingdom and righteousness leaves the worker empty and
dissatisfied: "Do not labor for the food which perishes ..."
(John 6:27; see also Ecclesiastes 1:3; 2:11; Isaiah 55:2).
5. Those who regularly toil for the benefit of others should
receive prompt and proper compensation, for "the laborer
is worthy of his wages" (Luke 10:7; see also Leviticus 19:13;
Jeremiah 22:13; Malachi 3:5; Matthew 10:10; 1 Timothy 5:18b;
6. Beyond providing for oneself and one's family, another purpose
for diligent labor is for the worker to be generous with those
who cannot work: "By laboring like this ... you must support the
weak" (Acts 20:35; see also Ephesians 4:28; 1 Timothy 5:8).
7. Six days of labor in the interest of others, followed by a
seventh day of rest, reflect the divine pattern. God began this
rhythm and blesses it still: "Six days you shall labor and do all
your work, but the seventh day is the Sabbath of the LORD your
God. In it you shall do no work" (Exodus 20:8-11; see also
Genesis 2:1-3; Deuteronomy 5:13; Hebrews 4:4-11).
An exclusive BA interview with the Family and Senior Homeless
In our Denver hometown, the BA learned of a new effort to help
those who don't have a place to call home - the Family and Senior
Homeless Initiative (FSHI). We asked director Brad Hopkins these
BA: Your approach to homelessness focuses on families and
seniors, instead one single males, who are the stereotypical
chronically homeless. Why?
Hopkins: FSHI helps homeless families and seniors secure stable,
long-term housing through faith community mentoring and first
month's rent and deposit assistance. We focus on families, in
particular, because family homelessness is currently at epidemic
proportions. Our recent studies found that 62 percent of the
total homeless in Denver are families, while only about 10-12
percent are single males. Children, moms, and dads on the
knife-edge of poverty need a boost to attain stability again.
Most of these families are disconnected from healthy, supportive
relationships [that the church can offer].
BA: How does FSHI operate?
Hopkins: FSHI pairs mentor teams from the faith community with a
homeless family or senior to provide the first month's rent and
deposit, as well as mentoring with the goal of sustainable
permanent housing. Trained mentors offer the family physical,
spiritual, financial, and emotional assistance for four to six
months, over a minimum of seven meetings.
BA: FSHI's model started in Denver and spread to other cities.
Is it working?
Hopkins: The FSHI program, resourced by the Denver Rescue
Mission, was adopted into the city's ten-year plan to end
homelessness in 2005. As of May 31, 2011, mentor teams have
partnered with 888 families and seniors who have moved into
permanent housing. With the efforts of 315 congregations of
faith, 2,089 individuals have been placed into housing, and 85
percent of families who had been mentored are still in housing
one year later. Other cities - Las Vegas, Portland, Dallas,
Boise, Knoxville, and more - are also catching the vision and
making progress. Local governments are thrilled about new,
creative ways to partner with local faith communities to help
solve real social problems, and the faith community is drawn to
the idea of helping in the name of Christ.
Readers with interest in the topic of
homelessness are invited to visit www.fshi.org.
From "The Bible Advocate" - September/October 2011 - a
publication of the Church of God, Seventh Day, Denver, CO.USA