The Signs of the Times


October 9, 1884

The Benefits of Industry


Those who look upon work as a curse are cherishing a mistaken idea. God appointed labor as a blessing to man, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop his faculties. Adam toiled in the garden of Eden, and found it to be one of the pleasures of his holy existence to do so. And when, as the result of his disobedience, he was driven from his beautiful home, and was forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread, that very labor, although far different from his pleasant occupation in the garden, was a protection against temptation, and a source of happiness. ST October 9, 1884, par. 1

For thirty years Jesus was an inhabitant of Nazareth, and his life was one of patient industry. He walked the streets clad in the simple garb of a common laborer. He toiled up and down the mountain steeps, going to and returning from his humble work. He did not employ his divine power to lessen his burdens or to lighten his toil. He lived in a peasant's home; he mingled with the lowly, and shared their daily toil. His example shows us that it is man's duty to be industrious, that labor is honorable. ST October 9, 1884, par. 2

The life of Jesus should encourage the poor and lowly to be contented with their lot. Honest labor has received the sanction of Heaven, and men and women may hold the closest communion with God, while occupying the humblest positions in life. Jesus was as faithfully fulfilling his mission when working at his humble trade as when he healed the sick or walked upon the storm-tossed waves of Galilee. ST October 9, 1884, par. 3

Those who divorce religion from their worldly business are reproved by the example of Jesus. Although he could command the entire angel host, he dwelt among the hills of Nazareth, a simple carpenter, working for wages, and living a godly life. He called no attention to himself as a marked personage; yet his life is a lesson that mankind should copy to the end of time. It was a mystery to angels that Christ should condescend, not only to take upon himself humanity, but to assume its heaviest burdens and most humble occupations. But this he did that he might become like one of us; that he might be acquainted with the toil, the sorrows, and the fatigue of the children of men, and thus be better able to understand their privations and sympathize with their trials. ST October 9, 1884, par. 4

The essential lesson of contented industry in the necessary duties of life, however humble, is yet to be learned by the greater portion of Christ's followers. Though there may be no human eye to examine our work, nor voice to praise or blame, it should be done just as well as though the Infinite One himself were personally to inspect it. We should be as faithful in the minor details of our business as we would in the larger affairs of life. ST October 9, 1884, par. 5

Our varied trusts are proportioned to our various abilities. Where much is given, much will be required. God expects corresponding returns for the talents he has intrusted to his servants. It is not the greatness of the talents possessed that determines the reward, but the manner in which they are used, the degree of faithfulness with which life's duties are performed, whether those duties are great or small. Whoever does his work conscientiously and well, whether in the shop, in the field, or in the pulpit, will be rewarded according to the spirit in which he has worked. It requires more grace and discipline of character to work for God in the capacity of mechanic, merchant, lawyer, or farmer, carrying the precepts of Christianity into the ordinary pursuits of life, than to labor as a minister of Christ, where one's position is understood, and half its difficulties obviated by that very fact. It requires strong spiritual nerve and muscle to carry religion into the work-shop and business office, sanctifying the details of every-day life, and ordering every worldly transaction according to the Bible standard; but this is what God requires of his people. ST October 9, 1884, par. 6

Judicious labor is a healthful tonic for the human race. It makes the feeble strong, the poor rich, and the wretched happy. Idleness is the greatest curse that can fall upon man, for vice and crime follow in its train. Satan lies in ambush, ready to destroy those who are unguarded, whose leisure gives him opportunity to insinuate himself into their favor under some attractive disguise. He is never more successful than when he comes to men in their idle hours. ST October 9, 1884, par. 7

Among the evils resulting from wealth, one of the greatest is the fashionable idea that work is degrading. Says the prophet Ezekiel, “Behold, this was the iniquity of thy sister Sodom; pride, fullness of bread, and abundance of idleness was in her and in her daughters, neither did she strengthen the hand of the poor and needy.” Here are presented before us the terrible results of idleness, which enfeebles the mind, debases the soul, and perverts the understanding, making a curse of that which was given as a blessing. ST October 9, 1884, par. 8

The glory and joy of life are found only by the working man or woman. Labor brings its own reward, and the rest is sweet that is purchased by the fatigue of a well-spent day. But there is a self-imposed toil that is utterly unsatisfying and injurious. It is that which gratifies unsanctified ambition, which seeks display or notoriety. Pride of appearance or the love of possession leads many to carry to excess that which is in itself lawful,—to devote the entire strength of body and mind to those interests which should occupy but a small portion of their time. They bend every energy to the acquisition of wealth or honor; they make all other objects secondary to this; they toil unceasingly for years to accomplish their purpose; yet when the goal is reached, the coveted prize secured, it turns to ashes in their grasp; it is a shadow, a delusion. They have given their lives for that which profiteth not. ST October 9, 1884, par. 9

God is watching the character we develop in our daily lives, weighing our moral worth. Those who ignore the claims of God in their business life, as carpenters, lawyers, or merchants, are unfaithful in matters of eternal interest, since it is the life that indicates the spiritual advancement, and registers upon the books of Heaven the unchangeable figures of the future. Those who are unfaithful in little things, cannot be intrusted with the true riches of the kingdom. Yet all the lawful pursuits of life may be safely followed, if the spirit is kept free from selfish hopes and the contamination of deceit and envy. The business life of the Christian should be marked with the same purity that held sway in the work-shop of the holy Nazarene. It is the working man or woman who sees something great or good in life, and who is willing to bear its responsibilities with faith and hope. ST October 9, 1884, par. 10

God designed that all should be workers. The toiling beast of burden answers the purpose of its creation better than does the indolent man, who does not develop his physical and mental powers, but neglects the tasks which God has set for him to do. In the cause of reform the indolence of the many necessitates the overwork of the few earnest and devoted laborers. Because these are allowed to do the work of others in addition to their own, they often fail beneath the burden. But though the path of the Christian reformer may be hard and narrow, it is honored by the footprints of the Redeemer, and he is safe who follows in that sacred way. ST October 9, 1884, par. 11

The angels are workers; they are ministers of God to the children of men. Those slothful spirits who look forward to a Heaven of inaction will be disappointed; for the economy of the Creator prepares no place for the gratification of sinful indolence. But to the weary and heavy-laden, rest is promised. It is the faithful servant who will be welcomed from his labors into the joy of his Lord. He will lay off his armor with rejoicing, and forget the noise of battle in the glorious rest prepared for those who conquer through the cross of Calvary. ST October 9, 1884, par. 12