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Usually we associate hard work with sweat on the brow and perhaps aching muscles, and there is certainly a lot of that kind of work to be done. There are houses to be built, crops to be planted and harvested, there are roads to be repaired, cars to be built, yards to be mowed, you know what I mean.
There are other people that work hard every day who never break a sweat, they work in offices or in stores, they sell insurance or help us buy houses. Some of these folks work long hours in front of a computer screen, talking on the phone or even teaching in our local schools.
As a pastor, I am largely a part of that second group; I talk to people a lot and work at a desk quite a bit. But, I have to admit, I also like working hard. There is something to be said for working up a sweat in the yard or helping build a church in Mexico. But really hard work is not about sweat or aching muscles.
Hard work is about effort and attitude. If you are sitting in an office and giving your best effort, thinking through problems, investing in your job, then you are working hard. By the same token, you may hold a hammer in your hand without caring about your work. If you don’t care about what you build, about its quality and value, you may be sweating, but you are not working hard. A lot of times we confuse the two.
Proverbs tells us that “All hard work brings a profit, but mere talk leads only to poverty.” (Proverbs 14:23 NIV) All hard work, whether in an office, in a field, whether holding a phone or holding a hammer, can be valuable. It gives us a sense of our own self worth and value in the community. When we work hard, at even the simplest tasks, God builds our character. We become better people when we learn to work hard. Another important benefit is that our hard work is seen by others. Hard work in the simplest jobs can often lead to bigger opportunities.
So this week, as you are working, at home, in the office, the factory, or the farm, give it your best. God gave us his best when he sent Jesus to us. God continues to give us his best every day as he continues to work in our hearts and lives. Another passage reminds us, “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men…” (Colossians 3:23 NIV) Work hard every day, give your best, as if serving the Lord, and he will bless you for it.