In the put-off and put-on section of this letter, the Apostle is contrasting a number of values. Instead of stealing you must work. Put off stealing and put on working.
Anyone who has been stealing must steal no longer, but must work … Ephesians 4:28
The word he uses is Kopiato. It means to work hard, to feel tired by working hard.
Paul says get like that. Get work-tired.
It doesn’t matter what the work is whether you are retired and you are tending your plants or you have just started in a new job as an apprentice and you have your whole work life ahead of you. Get tired from your work.
Get up early. Whether that is to pray or to work. I first began getting up early in my first church. It was a farming community and the families in the church were all awake before the sun rose for work duties. As their Pastor I felt obliged to get up when they got up. They taught me well!
There is a lot of talk about the need to rest. But you can only rest after you have worked. Otherwise it isn’t rest. Some people have rested for so long even to move is tiring and then some people cannot move because they are suffering and would love to trade places with those who cut corners, finish early, do as least as possible.
Have you ever heard someone say to you, “I’m so tired” in a negative way like there has been some scandalous persecution broken out on their lives? All along you are thinking ‘But you haven’t done anything?!”
Work/life balance is so important, but the first word is crucial because otherwise there wouldn’t be a need for balance.
We were created to work, to pour our whole energy and passion into whatever our hand finds to do.
I have the privilege of being on a board of people who pre-select candidates for ministry. I love it. I love looking through their profiles/CV’s and spending time with them in the 24 hours that we are with them. I am not as interested in whether or not they are gifted or how attractive their personality is. These are good things to look for. So is character. I get all that. But I want to know if they get work-tired. If they’ve been down the pit for 12 hours a day I know that when they get to 66 years of age they will be prepared to run a youth club in their church simply because there is a need to do so (as one of my loved Pastors does).
I wonder what would have happened if Adam replied to God’s request for him to work the garden, “Sorry God it’s not my gifting.”
Work-shy people have hid behind gifting for too long and nothing gets done.
I remember when we used to do many maintenance days at the Church and I would invite all the church members to come and work. Those who had already done 40 hours hard work that week would be the first to respond. One member said because their gifting was intercession they would stay at home and pray for us who worked! You can imagine perhaps my response!
At the moment my son is having his garden landscaped. It is easy to see through the daily pictures of the garden that the hired gardener has been working. It is easy to tell if every service provider you can think of is working hard. What’s the service like? I can tell if a Pastor is working hard by visiting their church. The Apostle will go on to talk about the fruit of our labours and why we should work-tired. The fruit is really important. There will be no impact, no fruit and no results without being work-tired.
So as you go to work today whatever it is and wherever it is you are going to get tired from doing it and that is good. You are an image of God. This is true discipleship. Let the work of God work through you today.