The Signs of the Times


May 4, 1882

Labor as a Blessing


Many look upon work as a curse, originating with the enemy of souls. This is a mistaken idea. God gave labor to man as a blessing, to occupy his mind, to strengthen his body, and to develop his faculties. Adam labored in the garden of Eden, and he found in mental and physical activity the highest pleasures of his holy existence. When he was driven from that beautiful home as the result of his disobedience, and was forced to struggle with a stubborn soil to gain his daily bread, that very labor was a relief to his sorrowing soul, a safeguard against temptation. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 1

Judicious labor is indispensable both to the happiness and the prosperity of our race. It makes the feeble strong, the timid brave, the poor rich, and the wretched happy. Our varied trusts are proportioned to our various abilities, and God expects corresponding returns for the talents he has given 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 the duties of life are performed, be they great or small. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 2

Idleness is one of the greatest curses that can fall upon man; for vice and crime follow in its train. Satan lies in ambush, ready to surprise and 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 May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 3

The greatest curse following in the train of wealth is the fashionable idea that work is degrading. “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, in the words of Holy Writ, the terrible results of idleness. It was this that caused the ruin of the cities of the plain. Idleness enfeebles the mind, debases the soul, and perverts the understanding, turning into a curse that which was given as a blessing. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 4

The rich often consider themselves entitled to the pre-eminence among their fellow-men and in the favor of God. Many feel above honest labor, and look down with contempt upon their poorer neighbors. The children of the wealthy are taught that to be gentlemen and ladies they must dress fashionably, avoid all useful labor, and shun the society of the working classes. They dare not shock their fashionable associates by putting the gifts of God to a practical use. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 5

Such ideas are wholly at variance with the divine purpose in the creation of man. What are the possessions of even the most wealthy, in comparison with the heritage given to the lordly Adam? Yet Adam was not to be idle. An all-wise Creator understands what is for man's happiness; and this is why he gave to Adam his appointed work. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 6

The Son of God honored labor. Though he was the Majesty of Heaven, he chose his earthly home among the poor and lowly, and worked for his daily bread in the humble carpenter shop of Joseph. Christ is our example. He came to earth to teach us how to live. Does it require too great humiliation for us to follow where the King of glory has led the way? ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 7

Misguided parents are trying to improve upon God's plan. Many send their children away from home influences and home duties, to some boarding-school or college, to obtain an education. There, deprived of parental care, the youth squander precious hours in novel reading, in frivolous amusements, or in studying the adornment of the person, that they may outrival their companions. For such pursuits, their duties to their fellow-beings and to God are neglected. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 8

This false education leads young ladies to regard uselessness, frivolity, and helplessness as proofs of gentility. Fashionable butterflies, they have nothing to do for the good of others, at home or abroad. Here may be found the secret of many of the unhappy marriages and flirtations ending in shame, that curse our world today. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 9

Those who are in the possession of wealth and leisure, and yet have no purpose in life, have nothing to arouse them to either mental or physical activity. Thus many a woman loses her health, and is sent to some medical institution for treatment. Here attendants are hired, at great expense, to rub, stretch, and exercise the muscles, which have become powerless by inaction. She hires servants, that she may live a life of idleness, and then hires other servants to exercise the muscles enfeebled by disuse. What consummate folly! How much wiser and better for women, young or old, to brave the sneers of fashion's votaries, and obey the dictates of common sense and the laws of life. By the cheerful performance of domestic duties, they might become useful and happy members of society. Such labor affords a more efficient and profitable “movement cure” than the best inventions of the physicians. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 10

Young men, as well as young women, manifest a sad lack of earnest purpose and moral independence. To dress, to smoke, to talk nonsense, and to indulge their passion for amusement, is the ideal of happiness, even with many who profess to be Christians. It is painful to think of the time which is thus misspent. Hours that should be given to the study of the Scriptures or to active labor for Christ are worse than wasted. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 11

Life was given for a true and holy purpose. It is too precious to be thus squandered. I entreat those who have taken the name of Christ to examine their own hearts, and pass sentence upon themselves. Do you not love pleasure more than you love God or your fellowmen? ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 12

There is work to be done. There is the mind, with all its capabilities, to strengthen and store with the treasures of divine wisdom. There are souls to save. There is a Heaven to win. There are battles to fight. You may come to the front and join in the warfare against the hosts of evil. In the strength of God you may do a good and noble work for the Master. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 13

God designed that all should be workers, and upon those whose opportunities and abilities are greatest, rest the heaviest responsibilities. Upon them, also, will fall the heaviest condemnation if they are unfaithful to their trust. The patient beasts of burden put to shame that indolent do nothing, who, endowed with reasoning powers and a knowledge of the divine will, refuses to perform his allotted part in God's great plan. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 14

The indolence of the many, occasions the overwork of the few. A large class refuse to think or act for themselves. They have no disposition to step out of the old ruts of prejudice and error; by their perversity they block up the way of advancement, and force the standard-bearers of the right to more heroic efforts in their march forward. Earnest and devoted laborers are failing for the want of a helping hand, and are sinking beneath their double burdens. Their graves are waymarks along the upward paths of reform. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 15

The true glory and joy of life are found only by the working man and 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 which is utterly unsatisfying and injurious. It is that which gratifies unsanctified ambition, that which seeks display or notoriety. The love of appearance or possession leads thousands to carry to excess what is lawful, to devote all the strength of mind and body to that 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 unflinchingly for years to accomplish their purpose; yet when the goal is reached, and the coveted reward secured, it turns to ashes in their grasp; it is a shadow, a delusion. They have given their life for that which profiteth not. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 16

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 men and women—those who are willing to bear its responsibilities with faith and hope—who see something great and good in life. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 17

Patient laborers, remember that they were sturdy working men whom Christ chose from among the fishermen of Galilee and the tent-makers of Corinth, to labor with him in the work of salvation. From these humble men went forth a power that will be felt through all eternity. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 18

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 Creator has prepared no such place for the gratification of sinful indolence. But to the weary and heavy-laden, rest is promised. It is the faithful servants who are welcomed from their labors unto the joy of their Lord. Gladly will they lay off their armor, and forget the noise of battle in the peace that shall be the inheritance of the saints. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 19

The path of the Christian laborer may be hard and narrow, but it is honored by the foot-prints of the Redeemer, and he is safe who follows in that sacred way. ST May 4, 1882, Art. A, par. 20