The Sexton and the Wagon Driver

The children of Rabbi Shmuel of Lubavitch, the fourth Chabad-Lubavitch Rebbe, once debated Judaism’s contribution to “living life.” Their father, weighing in on their discussion, summoned his simpleminded sexton, Bentzion. The Rebbe inquired: “Bentzion, did you get a chance to eat yet today?” “Yes.” “And did you eat well?” “I’m not sure about the meaning of ‘eating well,’ but I am satisfied, thank G‑d.”
“I’m not sure about the meaning of ‘eating well,’ but I am satisfied, thank G‑d…””And, why, might I ask, did you eat?” “Why, in order to live!” “And for what purpose do you live?” “In order to be able to serve G‑d.” “Thank you Bentzion, you can go now,” said the Rebbe.

The Rebbe then sent for Ivan, their Russian Yiddish-speaking wagon driver. “Ivan, have you eaten today?” “Sure!” “Have you eaten well?” “And how!” “Tell me, Ivan, why do you eat?” “In order to live!”
“And why do you live?” “Well, I’d say it boils down to a good drink.” With that, Ivan was off.

The Rebbe then turned to his young children who had listened in fascination to the exchange, and said: “This is the Jewish contribution to life; we work to live, and we live for a higher purpose.” – Likuttei Diburim, vol. 3, pg. 421a.

Our sages teach that after studying Torah in the morning a person “should go to work, for all Torah which is not accompanied by work is destined to be nullified and in danger of causing transgression, because excessive poverty may cause him to deviate from the will of his Maker. But even so, a person should not make his work primary, but secondary, and his Torah the center; in this way both will succeed” (Code of Jewish Law, Orach Chaim 156).

Exo_23:12 Six days thou shalt do thy work, and on the seventh day thou shalt rest: that thine ox and thine ass may rest, and the son of thy handmaid, and the stranger, may be refreshed.

2Th_3:10 For even when we were with you, this we commanded you, that if any would not work, neither should he eat.

Col_3:17 and whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Col_3:23 And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

It’s September and we celebrate Labor Day! For many years, kiddos went back to school the day after Labor Day and I think the parents celebrated the Day more for that than to honor the American worker.
Work defines us as one of the first questions we ask a new person is about where and what kind of work they do.

Yet, work is the one thing most of us are unhappy about our jobs. One report I read said that at least 85% of us are not in the career field of our dreams and many are not even in the career for which they trained.

Man was made to work. We are created in the image of God and we read about His work in Genesis and His many other works all the way through to the last word of Revelation. God rested on the seventh day and we also are to have one day in seven where we rest and worship. Many people suffer burnout from going more than six days at a time or working some odd shifts requiring too many long days in a row with many too many days in a row off. Our clocks are divinely wired for six on and one off. In order to circumvent the curse we have come up with all sorts of ways to make work different, but not always better. Our technology has made us earn our bread by the furrow of our brow and not the sweat. Stress kills quicker and we have made work more stressful while making it less physical.

Adam and Eve were required to dress the Garden, so work is God ordained. They had the best and probably easiest job ever since there was no time clock or pressure even if it was physical. They worked together with no jealousy or competition. They topped off the day spending time with God. Work does not get any better than that.

Sin messed it all up. No more walking with God and the curse made earning their food harder. As more people came forth the sin nature created all kinds of greed, pride, laziness, etc. that made work rough on the individual and whatever team or organization involved. Yet, God says that a man who WILL not work, not CANNOT work, doesn’t get to eat and a man professing faith who doesn’t provided for his own is worse than an infidel/unbeliever.

Most of us will never get the ideal job, salary or Boss so how do we keep from getting depressed? By making God our Boss and working for Him, we get past much of the things that drag us down at work. When I worked for K-Mart right after college a manager commented that I worked too hard for the money I was getting. I told him that if I worked for K-Mart, I might agree, but since I worked for God my best is required regardless of my paycheck.

God is the best employer because He knows all your needs and He sees when you have been treated unjustly at work or are under appreciated. He is able to reward and promote better than any organization. Indeed, be thankful to Him that you have a job or He may give it someone else. Live with Him in the moment as retirement may not come to you so wishing your life away for the weekend or for retirement will create unnecessary anxiety, boredom and even anger or bitterness. Do well with a grateful heart and you may find you are in your dream job!

Happy Labor Day! Maranatha!

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When Things Get Smelly!

August 22, 2014


When I was around eight, we were visiting some cousins out on the farm and as all kids back then we played tag.  I went zipping around the barn and stepped in a slick patty.  I fell, slid and rolled through a copious amount of bovine excrement.  When I was able to stand up I went to the porch and yelled for Mom as the other cousins laughed in consolation.  Mom came to the door and was horrified to see her son’s new version of playing cowboy.  She ordered to me to strip, in front of the cousins, and hosed me down.  Fortunately, one of the cousins was male and my size so I was not forced to wear a dress home.  I was embarrassed, but clean and Mom still took me home.

As I look back on that now, I am reminded of how many times as a Christian that I was either running from the devil or playing tag with the world that I have slipped and fallen into as much manure as that day.  As I ran to God for help or confessed, His mercy stripped me and  hosed me off as the devil and his minions laughed.  Sometimes it was embarrassing as others saw me spiritually naked, but in the end I was clean and God still called me Son.  Like Mom, He took care of the offending substance and smell because He loved the boy covered in it more than He abhorred the filth.   It is good to have a loving mother, but far greater to have such a loving Father in God and a savior like Jesus Christ.