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.