Archive for November, 2021

Living on Level Three – Part Two

Dr. Kohlberg of Harvard described life on three levels. Level three begins anytime after the late teens.  At this level one isn’t trying just to please self or others, but what matters is what is right.  Internal convictions become important.  Morality is based on principles, not force, as in level one or acceptance as in level two. Honesty is now based on values, not what a parent has said or others think.

Conduct will not be based on who I am with, but on who I am and what I believe. Let’s look at life on level three.


If you live on level three, you will do whatever you do based on principles.  You won’t change your mind simply because something makes you feel better or others approve.


This reveals our realized oneness with Jesus.  A team that wears a school’s uniform represents all for which the school stands.  As a Christian you represent all for which Christ stands.  His “name” stands for His character and being.

“In the name” means “in vital relationship with him,” that is:
a. in harmony with His revealed will.
b. in subjection to His authority.
c. dependence on His power.


Are you able to give God thanks for being able to say or do what is contemplated?

Do you live up to the principles you profess?  When you became aware of your need for salvation, and you received Christ as Savior, a principle was established.  You invited Christ into your life.

Let’s parallel this with an imaginary situation in which you invite a special guest into your home.  Upon his arrival you say, “I want you to make yourself at home.  My house is your house.  Make yourself comfortable.”

The next day you come home and your guest has out all of your financial records and is going through them. You are outraged, “What are you doing?” you ask.  “I am looking over your financial records,” is the reply. Incensed you say, “those are my private records. You shouldn’t be looking at them.”  Then your guest reminds you of your statement, “Make yourself at home. My house is your house.”

Did you really mean it?  Did you really mean it when you said to Jesus that you wanted your life to be His?  Are there areas of your life not being lived according to His principles? This is a good time to review the characteristics of life on level three and resolve to live by them.

Living on Level Three – Part One

Colossians 3:17

Dr. Lawrence Kohlberg of Harvard has led the way in research in moral education and development.  He found that a healthy mature person develops through three levels of moral thinking.

LEVEL ONE extends from birth to about age ten.  This is the totally self-centered stage.  All issues and choices are viewed in terms of personal physical or pleasurable results.  The rules of the game are:  If I am rewarded as I desire my conduct is good.  If I don’t get what I want then my actions are bad.

There are adults still living at this level. They are self-centered-egotist.

Interestingly psychologists have concluded there are three motivational factors in life: Self-preservation, Self-gratification, and Self-glorification.

Note, in each instance the use of the word “self.” What is in it for me?

LEVEL TWO, Dr. Kohlberg says, begins sometimes between age ten and fourteen.  At this stage persons consider others as well as self.  Choices are based on whether they please others or are they approved by others.  Peer pressure and idols exert an enormous influence.  The status quo becomes important.

There are people of all ages still hung up at this level.  “Everybody is doing it,” becomes the mandate for mediocrity.  “Chicken” is a game such a person can dare to play even if they lose their life trying to win.

LEVEL THREE begins anytime after the late teens.  At this level one isn’t trying just to please self or others, but what matters is what is right.  Internal convictions become important.  Morality is based on principle not force as in level one or acceptance as in level two. Honesty is now based on values not what a parent says or others think.

Conduct will not be based on whom I am with, but on whom I am and what I believe.

Dr. Kohlberg estimates that only about 20% of adult Americans reach level three when a person chooses to do something because it is right in and of itself.

Living on level three is life’s most satisfying peek.

Job evidenced he lived there when in his hour of extreme pain he revealed he lived by principles when he said, “Yay, though He slay me yet I will trust Him.”

David revealed he had moved to the third level by saying, “When I am afraid I will trust in Him.”

Joshua gave away his level of living by saying, “As for me and my house we will serve the Lord.”

Martin Luther, when on trial for his life declared: “Here I stand, I can do nought else.”

William Penn spoke of level three when he said, “Right is right though all men be against it, and wrong it wrong though all men be for it.”

If you are not yet on level three you can be with the help of the Lord. Evaluate your growth level. Level three is where God desires persons to live.

Anna: A Consistent Plodder 8/1/99

Luke 2:36-38

Jesus Christ knows you. Not only does He know you, He loves you. Today you are invited to know Him and to know Him better.

His birth was almost a covert act of God. Being born of peasant parents, in a innocuous village, in a unpopular part of the world did little to popularize His birth.

He could have come with regal pomp, With the herald of the archangel’s trump. With a peal as loud and dread As that which shall someday wake the dead. But for that herald gem The star that stood over Bethlehem Not even the angels on His natal morn Would have known that the Son of God was born. As was the custom of the era the infant’s parents took Him to the temple to be dedicated. This is where our story begins. It is a story to inspire all. There He was met by a wonderful woman worth your knowing, a true plodder.

The term “plodder” as used in these messages is used in a most complimentary manner. It means persons who have “stick-to-itive-ness.” They aren’t quitters. They encounter puzzles and problems and work through them. They are confronted by challenges and deal with them constructively. A plodder doesn’t have give up in his or her makeup. I would like to be worthy of being considered a plodder.

Some of the greatest achievers of all times have been plodders.

Beethoven, one of the greatest composers of all times, was totally deaf for the last eight years of his life. During that time he composed what is acclaimed as his greatest musical work, the stirring Ninth Symphony. Yet, he never heard it. Attending its first public presentation he had no idea of the audience approval until he saw them stand and engage in prolonged applause.

John Milton considered one of England’s greatest poets wrote his magnificent epic, “Paradise Lost” after 12 years of blindness.

See a dwarf-like cripple named Charles Steinbeck having to stand and lean on his work station. He became one of the most outstanding electrical geniuses of all times. He holds patents on over 100 inventions. An indomitable will guided him to accomplishments seldom matched.

Come now and meet one of the first female plodders of the New Testament. She should be an encouragement to all. Hopefully you will find her a motivating influence in your life.

Waiting there in the temple when Mary and Joseph arrived with the infant Jesus was the aged Anna. Her very name means “grace.” It is estimated that there are over one-half million persons with that name today.

Let’s learn from the Biblical plodder and respond positively.


After only seven years of marriage sorrow struck her young life. She was widowed from then to the end of her eighty-four years. In her youth grief gripped her like a vice. Uncertainty surrounded her.

Sorrow can make us bitter or better. It can uproot our faith or produce the fruit of faith. It can cause a person to turn from God or turn to Him. Her responses turned her scars into stars of hope.

She was aged, 84. Age inevitably robs the body of vitality. It can do worse, it can take away a persons heart and rob them of hope. The decline of the body doesn’t have to diminish ones spirit.

She was inspired to keep plugging away by three primary influences. She worshiped regularly, prayed often, and lived expectantly. This kept hope alive.

Abraham Lincoln said, “We are as young as our hopes and as old as our fears. I have known some old teens and some youthful aged individuals.


She knew the prophecies related to the coming of Messiah. Knowing them and being sensitive to the signs of the time she had great expectations regarding Him coming in her life time.

“Thy word have I hid in my heart” is an expedient today.

I heard it asked recently, “What is the most unread book in the world?” The answer, the car owners manual. Who wrote it? The manufacturer. The very one who knows the car best put in it information as to how to get the most out of your car. Yet, we simply want to get in and drive. You can and it likely will run well, at least for a time. You can get more out of it if you digest the manual. It will function better and longer if you do.

The Bible is the manual provided by the manufacturer of life, your life.

She knew the Scripture and knew when it was fulfilled.

“There shall come forth a Rod from the stem of Jesse, And a Branch shall grow out of his roots” (Isaiah 11:1).

Many “Far Side” cartoons fascinate me. One showed a game show in progress. One of the three contestants was God. As you tune in on the contest the host is saying, “That’s right, Wisconsin! And so it looks like God has 500 points while Norm, our current champion, has zero!”

It is a superb depiction of the wisdom of God compared to our foolishness. You would not want to go on Jeopardy with God. Anyone who contests Him is in jeopardy.

To be a successful plodder and have inspiration for life get to know God’s Word, the Bible.

Our life should be based on this couplet: God said it, I believe it, That settles it!

Imagine the young widow Anna when she first went to the temple. Hope ran high. Expectancy bubbled over. Messiah is coming. A year lapsed and He had not come. Well He will! Two years, no Messiah. Surely time would dim her hope. It didn’t. She was a plodder.

The only reason she had of expecting Messiah was God’s Word. That alone stimulated her unfailing faith. If she had your temperament would she have begun to waver and criticize God for not acting. After about forty years she might have had cause to give up on the project.

She lived ready for glory.

“Night and day” she was in the temple. Plodders hang in there.

Anne Scheiber was a 101 year old plodder when she died in January 1995. For years she had lived in a tiny, run-down, rent-controlled studio apartment in Manhattan which rented for $400 a month. She had retired in 1943 and lived on Social Security and a very small retirement check. As an IRS auditor she had not done well and the agency had not done well by her. Despite being a lawyer and doing good work she had not been promoted. When she retired at age 54 she was making only $3,150 a year. Her neighbors admired her thrift in her struggle to survive. She didn’t spend money on herself. As things wore out she didn’t replace them. Instead of subscribing to the paper she went to the public library once a week and read “The Wall Street Journal.”

Imagine the surprise of Norman Lamm, President of Yeshiva University in New York when this unknown lady left her estate to the school. The estate this plodder, Anne Scheiber left Yeshiva was worth $22 million.

In the temple Anna kept investing her faith in God. She never cashed out in the good or bad times.

Are you an Anna plodder, a day and night servant of the Lord. Faith waited ….

She is depicted as praying and fasting. Fasting is a picture of crucifying the flesh. Our appetites for food is a strong basic one. Fasting shows the ability to control ones appetite and that is an indication of a will to control all appetites. Galatians 5:23 speaks of self-control. It is an evidence of a Spirit filled life.

Without self-control she would not have been in the temple day and night for years.

Then one day it happened. Mary and Joseph entered the temple with their infant Jesus. In a moment we will consider her expression, but first consider her emotions. Has there ever been someone or something for which you have patiently waited for what seemed to be a long time? Such were her emotions. Then it happened. She saw Messiah and in that instance she gave thinks to God.

She “spoke of Him to all those who looked for redemption in Jerusalem” (Vs. 38). She shared the good news. She was demonstrative.

Her many years of plodding faithfulness began with a single act one day. It resulted in a life- time commitment.

You can attest to your faith in Christ and thereby witness of Him by the act as your Savior.

You: A Work In Progress 4/2/00

Jesus Christ said, “I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work” (John 9:4).

If that be true of Christ it is also true of us. Therefore, once His will is determined do it heartily as unto the Lord. Pour yourself enthusiastically into what you do.

It was said of Joan of Arc, the Maid of Loraine: “She discovered her path and went down it like a thunderbolt.” That is commitment. Can your lifestyle of service be so described or is it better depicted by fits and starts?

The Apostle Paul penned an exhortation to people he loved that the Holy Spirit has directed to people the Father loves. “Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling” (Philippians 2:12). Is a proof text improperly used by some who support the spurious belief that a person is saved and kept by works. “Work out your own salvation” is asserted to mean you have to devise your own means of salvation by the work you do.

The text doesn’t say work FOR or AT your salvation, but OUT.

Salvation by works makes man and God look bad. It makes man look like everything he does is to get something. It leaves no room for acts of gratitude. It makes God look bad because it makes Him look like He can be bought off.

The text is better understood when interpreted using language of the math classroom. When an equation is written out the instruction regarding the math problem is often “work it out.”

A teacher went to the chalk board and wrote out one of those long equations, such as, X to the 10th power, plus Y, etc. Then she wrote at the end “Find X.” A not so promising math student went to the board, drew an arrow pointing to the X and said, “There it is!”

To assume our text means work to earn your salvation is just as inadequate as that response to the math equation.

All the elements of the math problem were there but the teacher wanted the pupil to carry it to its logical conclusion. To do so in our spiritual life we must work throughout the period of our salvation. We are to do it with “fear and trembling,” which means with “reverence and a healthy respect.”

The Greek verb for “work out,” KATERGAZESTHAI, always has the idea of carrying to a logical conclusion. This is an appeal to “DON’T STOP HALFWAY.” Go on to the very end exercising faith and faithfulness. When exhorted to “work out our own salvation” the appeal is to carry it to its logical conclusion. That is, work through out the time you are saved to reach the end intended, to accomplish the purpose God had in mind for you.

Nearby the Dematiaceae Chapel in Florence, Italy is the Academy of Art. Florence is the location of one of Michelangelo’s most magnificent works, David. As a sculptor he produces such great works as Moses, the Pieta, and David. His highly acclaimed work is incomparable.

A large chamber in the Academy building houses what are known as Michelangelo’s slaves. They are incomplete works of art that were in progress at the time of his death.

He always started with a piece of stone which yielded to his will as his skilled hands freed from it the intended work of art. Until the moment of completion each was always an incomplete work of art in progress. These incomplete works are called “slaves” because they have not yet been completely freed from the stone.

One is of a man whose upper torso and head are complete. The lower part is still the block of unhewn stone. It appears as though the man is standing in stone. In another the lower extremities of the body are complete and the unfinished block of stone rests on the person’s shoulders. It is as though he is struggling to free himself from the stone.

These incomplete works lack the quality of the completed works principally because they are unfinished. Do they mirror your life? Have you stopped part way in your spiritual pilgrimage? Don’t stop half-way. Let our Lord finish the work he began in you the moment of salvation. Let Him free you from spiritual enslavement.

To carry your salvation to its logical conclusion God is willing to help. “For it is God who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13).

Pray for Him to reveal His will to you knowing He will once He sees in you the will to do it. Pray:

“Lord guide me, the sea is so big and my boat is so small.”

Often God guides through long and uncertain pathways. However, if we will follow He will guide.

Young Kurt’s world was turned up-side-down when at age 4 his dad left home. Fortunately there were Christian male role models that came into his life. Some were coaches who saw potential in little Kurt as he developed. He played football at Cedar Rapids High, and earned a scholarship to Northern Iowa where he warmed the bench for four years before becoming a fifth year starter. He got a try out with Green Bay but lasted only two weeks in preseason camp.

He went back to Cedar Rapids and took a job as a stock boy in a Hy-Vee Grocery Store paying $5.50 an hour. Their slogan is “A Smile In Every Aisle.”

While working there he got a call offering him an opportunity to play for the Iowa Barnstormers in the Arena Football League. This eight man game played indoors on a field about half the size of a normal field, but that was better than nothing for a competitor. After a few seasons he was offered a chance to play for the Amsterdam Admirals in the Netherlands.

In 1992 Kurt Warner married a Christian who stimulated his own faith. Their shared faith in God is summed up in this statement by Kurt: “I never lost hope, He had a plan for me.”

Last year shortly before the NFL season began Kurt Warner was signed by the St. Louis Rams to play back-up quarterback. His wife Brenda reminded him, “If you have faith in God’s plan, things will work out for you.”

An injury to the franchise quarterback put Kurt in the starting role. It was a fabled season. He threw 41 touchdown passes and amassed 4,353 yards to lead the leagues Number 1 ranked offense and be named the leagues MVP.

This past season at age 28, in the Georgia Dome, he led the Rams to the Super Bowl championship and became the games MVP.

In the post-game interview in the Dome and on global TV he said, “Let first things be first! I want to give all the glory and all the praise to the Lord and Savior above. THANK YOU JESUS.”

His coach, Dick Vermeil said of Kurt Warner: “He is a classic example of what we would all like to be – on and off the field. He has persistence and a deep faith.”

We can’t all be Superbowl MVP’s but we can show the same faithfulness to God’s calling upon our lives. Kurt’s example is a living appeal to pray:

“Lord, free me from the pressure of doing great
things in the world by being great in doing small things for you.
Help me to persist even though I want to give up.
Help me to keep trying even though I can’t see what good it does.
Help me to keep praying although at times I’m not sure You hear me.
Help me to keep living in a way that seeks to please You.
Help me to know when to lead and when to follow.
Help me to know when to speak and when to keep silent.
Help me to know when to wait and when to act.
Lord, please help me to hang on.
Please don’t let me give up.
Help me to remember that, like the sun in the morning,
You come when it is time.”

“It is God who works in you both to will and to do…” The same Greek word is translated “works” and “to do.” It is ENERGEIN. In it we can hear our word for energy. This word is only used in the New Testament as a reference to action of God. It is effective action because it is action of God. His actions are not to remain half-finished. Carry your salvation to its logical conclusion.

Observe, this Bible and glove.

I might say to the glove, “I want you to pick up the Bible. It is my will for you to do it!” Nothing happens.

I might appeal, “Please pick up the Bible. I really want you to.” Still no response.

I might order the glove to pick up the Bible, “Pick it up and do it NOW!” If it does —- that door is mine.

I might even demonstrate how to pick up the Bible and appeal to the glove, “Now, do it like that.” Still no action.

I might preach to it, “Pick up the Bible, it’s the thing to do. There is great joy in picking up Bible. Now is the time.” Nothing! It can’t pick up the Bible.

BUT if I put my hand in the glove —– then the will, power and ability of my hand becomes the will, power and ability of the glove. When that happens the glove can do what my hand wants to do and the Bible is picked up easily.

It is Christ who works in you both to will and to do His good pleasure.

The illustration only breaks down when it is realized that we unlike the glove have the will to resist the Hand. We in our will must be willing to say, “Thy will be done.” When we do it is done by His enabling grace.

Without your consenting help even the actions of God are not completed.

He enlightens and empowers us. He reveals His will and He gives resources for doing it. Therefore, don’t argue with God: “Do all without murmuring and disputing” (Philippians 2:14).

Instead of arguing with God work with the conviction that the promises of God are true.

A logical conclusion of our salvation is that our life should be a sacrificial life of servanthood. Paul uses his life as an illustration: “I am being poured out like a drink offering” (Philippians 2:17). This was a process used in making sacrifices by the Jews and pagans. At a time in the ceremony of worship a drink that would have been a tasty refreshing beverage was poured on the sacrifice as a sacrifice itself. Paul depicted his life as perpetually being sacrificed to and for Christ.

That depicts our biggest problem as Christians. We evidence an unwillingness to give up control of our lives, to abandon them in faith to become Christ like. We give the impression that our lives can’t be good unless we control them. Our trust of Christ must bring us to the point where we are willing to be poured out as a sacrifice knowing the future belongs to God.

Talking about abandonment is beautiful and easy. Doing it is right and responsible — but also challenging.

The statement “work out your own salvation” is an imperative moral command to be obeyed. Don’t downgrade your responsibility as some do. They refer to believers as passive objects, such as, clay and branches, forgetting the Bible also calls us ambassadors, soldiers, servants, watchmen, and children of God.

God works IN and we work OUT. Christianity isn’t a matter of ups and downs but ins and outs.

Look at the linkage in Philippians 2:12 and 13: “…work out your own salvation … for it is God who works in you both to will and to do…”

The Lord works in our thought processes. He works in us to will. We can either dismiss His thoughts and neglect them or let them become ours and result in our actions.

Make sure your thoughts are Christ’s thoughts
because they become your words.
Make sure your words are Christ’s words
because they become your actions.
Make sure your actions are Christ’s actions
because they become your habits.
Make sure your habits are Christ’s habits
because they become your values.
Make sure your values are Christ’s values
because they become your destiny.

It all begins with a thought and ends with a destiny. When inspired and aware of His will do it. Your destiny is at risk.

Thus, we are depicted as the engine and He as the fuel. Both are required if the proper function is to be performed. He is the in filling, unfailing, empowering, and enabling Source.

He is our inspiration. He provides the will, that is, the knowledge as to what to do. He doesn’t quit then. It isn’t as though He gives us a grand
revelation and not the capacity to do it. He works in us to do His good will.

A person suffering from a deadly disease may be offered an absolute cure for the disease that is certain to be fatal. However, the cure is of no effect unless the patient takes the medicine.

A mentor may have the answer to a perplexing question causing great difficulty but the solution isn’t achieved if the student stubbornly refuses the scholars wisdom.

So God offers salvation that works but it is of no effect if the persons won’t respond positively to His offer.

Whistle While You Work 9/3/00

II Thessalonians 3:10-13

JESUS CHRIST said, “I must work the work of Him that sent me…” (Acts 9:4).

He also said, “My father worketh hitherto, and I must work.” (John 5:17).

If Jesus worked, who am I to think I shouldn’t?

If Jesus worked because the Father worked, who am I that I should not emulate my Heavenly Father.

If America fails as a society it will be because a vital principle in our text is neglected. It will be because we have forgotten that all persons are responsible for their own welfare and accountable for their own moral behavior.

Not only is it important that we work but that we work with the right motive and spirit.

Recently we traveled along the Rhine River in Germany through the mountains where the legend of Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs originated. That popular fairy tale became the subject of Walt Disney’s first feature length animated film in 1937. Anyone who has ever heard it has to like it. My imagination is so fertile that I could envision the little characters which never existed as though they still live in those German mountains — the Wicked Queen, the Prince, Snow White, and of course Sleepy, Bashful, Grumpy, Dopey, and all the rest. The thing that amazed me was that they whistled on their way to the mines where they worked. Remember them singing…

“Just whistle while you work… So, hum a merry tune. It won’t take long where there’s a song to help you set the pace… whistle while you work.”

That is the attitude with which we Christians should approach all of our work.

There is morality in work. God’s instructions to Adam and Eve set the standard for humanities work ethic. He told them to “dress” the garden. The Hebrew word meant to cultivate by labor. He then said “keep” it. This meant to protect it. He concluded by saying this should be done by the
“sweat of the brow.” By this is meant a living is to be earned by working.

Have you figured out why you are tired so much of the time.

The average person works 1/3 of a day, 8 hours.
That is, they work only 122 days a year.
There are 52 Sundays they don’t work.
52 from 122 leaves only 70 work days each year.
There are 52 Saturdays they don’t work.
52 from 70 leaves only 18 work days a year.
There are two weeks of vacation each year, 14 days.
14 from 18 leaves only 4 work days each year.
The average worker takes off 3 sick days a year.
3 from 4 leaves only one work day a year.

No wonder you are so tired. You are the only one working.

In the New Testament era there were believers in the church at Thessalonica who believed in the second coming of Christ so intently that they quit their jobs and sat around waiting for His glorious return. Aspirations regarding Christ’s advent is admirable. However, it should motivate action not apathy. In light of their attitude, Paul, under the leadership of the Holy Spirit issued the Thessalonian Welfare Reform Act which stated: “If anyone will not work, neither shall he eat.” Simple isn’t it?

A good work ethic is rare today. To succeed a good work ethic is essential. The fact many don’t have a good work ethic reduces the competition for those who do. Climbing the ladder of success isn’t difficult. The challenge is getting through that muddled mass at the base of the ladder.

Ethics on the ladder are hard to find also. There are those trying to climb the ladder of success who are licking the shoes of those above them and stomping the hands of those under them. Don’t lick, don’t stomp, to succeed just climb. That is, do your job and do it well.

Some people are as lethargic at work as one girl described her blind date. She told her friend she had to slap her blind date six times. Her friend asked if he was overly aggressive. “No,” she said, “I thought he was dead.”

In appealing for a good work ethic I want to caution against becoming a work-a-holic. Don’t make life a rat race. After all if you win the rat race you are still a rat. The rat race for some persons is so demanding they are now making cheese flavored tranquilizers.

Dr. Nelson Braley, Chief of Psychiatric Studies at Lutheran General Hospital in Chicago, said, “We deplore all forms of addiction except that of the work-a-holic.” He continued, “Put enough pressure on any person and they will become an addict.”

Many people put pressure on themselves. There is a vicious cycle: we want things —- things costs money —- money costs work —- and work costs time.

When you are up to your neck in alligators it is hard to remember your job is to drain the swamp. Avoid the alligators of personally imposed pressure so you can more effectively drain the swamp.

Dr. Braley concluded: “Any change must come from within. We can attack addiction with rules about work and vacations, but the only answer is religion. A new set of values.”

Our goal of happiness is reached only when there is “godliness with contentment.”

My dear friend, Wallace Johnson, one of the co- founders of Holiday Inn was asked why with all his resources and wealth he continued to work so energetically and expressed such strong faith. He replied, “When you have them, then you know that’s not where contentment is found. It is only through Jesus Christ.”

Money will buy:
A bed but not sleep
Books but not a brain.
Food but not an appetite.
A house but not a home.
Medicine but not health.
Luxuries but not culture.
Amusement but not happiness.
A crucifix but not a Savior.

Let’s make application of this text first to the world of your career and profession, and then to your service for our Lord within His church.

Keep three things of importance in mind:


Whatever your ability is use it to the fullest to the glory of the Lord. Manifest the spirit of the magnificent sculptor Michelangelo who said: “It is only well with me when I have a chisel in my hand.” Thus, he was only happy when productive. You will also find your greatest happiness when you are productive. In the church or the working world you will never be happy and productive if all you seek are your rights and your entitlement.

God doesn’t expect you to be the best at everything you do, but to do your best at everything you do.

It is important that we notice what our text does not say before we observe what it does say.

The word translated “work” is ERGAZOMAI. It does not relate to the disabled or legitimately unemployed. It is not possible for them to work. It targets those who “will not work”. The word for this is THELO meaning they don’t “wish to work”. Thus the passage means if there are those who do not aspire, desire, or intend to work they should not be fed. It is aimed at those who are able but unwilling to work.

John Calvin writing on this verse said, “Paul censures those lazy drones who live by the sweat of others, while they contribute no service in common for aiding the human race.”

As unimaginable as it seems to industrious people there are many such people in our society. They are so far removed from the work ethic that they think manual labor is second baseman for the Mets.

Every person shall someday give an account to the Lord. Know what you are to do and do it. A teammate once told Hank Aaron that most batters held the bat in such a way as to be able to read the label. He said, “I don’t go up there to read.”

A theme text of my life is Colossians 3: 23: “Whatever you do, do it heartily as unto the Lord.” Do it with enthusiasm.

A person is capable of enjoying his or her leisure time in direct proportion to the extent they know they have earned it. That is one reason so many
people are discontent even in their leisure. They know they haven’t earned it.

You have an audience of one, the Lord. Please Him and you can be pleased yourself.


In the word “obedient” is inherent the idea of listening carefully to instructions and following them.

Work “not with eye service, as men-pleasers,” that is don’t require a lot of supervision in order to be productive. Let your attitude toward your job be: “The Lord gave me this job, therefore, I am going to perform it in a way that would be pleasing to Him.”

A person with a good work ethic needs little supervision. No amount of supervision is adequate for a person who doesn’t have a good work ethic.

Now let’s make application of the Christian work ethic to the Christian community called the church. Are there those within the church who do not work for the Lord? That is, they render no service for the Lord.

With all the service that needs to be rendered in the church, what are you doing.

As an infant I slept in a church bed I didn’t pay for. On sheets I didn’t buy. I was heated and cooled by utilities I didn’t provide. Through age 16 I contributed little or nothing to the church.

There are in every church spiritual infants who are contributing nothing. Just as someone provided for us until we had grown to the point we could contribute so we must provide for them.

READ: Ephesians 2:8, 9 and 10. We are His workmanship created to do good works. I want to call you to service. I want to call you to service with a whistle on your lips. That is, I want to appeal to you to serve the Lord with gladness.

Service for Christ’s church.