‘Six Days Shall You Labor’

Are you overlooking part of the Fourth Commandment?

“Remember the sabbath day, to keep it holy.” We keep this commandment by resting on the seventh day of the week. But what are we resting from? Examine the other side of the Fourth Commandment: “Six days shalt thou labour, and do all thy work” (Exodus 20:8-9).

This is not a suggestion. It is a command that is just as important as the first half of the commandment. If we don’t labor, we are breaking the Fourth Commandment just as surely as if we worked on the Sabbath. This commandment points us back to creation (verse 11) and our Creator who works for a living.

The spirit or intent of this law shows that people should be doing productive work for the first six days of the week. God did the labor of creation for the first six days; we are to follow His example.

When Adam was first created, God placed him in the Garden of Eden and commanded him “to dress it and to keep it,” which required him to toil even to receive sustenance (Genesis 2:15-17).

God could have created an environment and means of sustenance that did not require labor. But He designed us to work and to work hard!

Did you know that 30 percent of your life will be spent working? If God specifically created us to do so much of it, why does work seem boring and difficult for so many people? We have to grasp the spiritual principle behind it.

The Bible contains about 900 references to employment and work habits. It is God’s nature to work diligently, and He wants us to be just like Him. God is reproducing Himself—His character and nature, His drive and resourcefulness, and His diligent work ethic. Human nature is lazy, but a true Christian is a diligent, productive, hard worker (1 Timothy 5:8). Jesus Christ said in John 5:17, “My Father worketh hitherto, and I work.” God forbids being slothful (Romans 12:11). He says that hard work is the only sure, godly way to avoid poverty (1 Thessalonians 4:11-12). He even commands that anyone who does not work should not eat (2 Thessalonians 3:10). Also read Ephesians 6:5-6 and Colossians 3:22, which says, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God.”

We are responsible not just to our boss or customers to work hard, but to God. A good employee constantly feels pressure to obey Christ. Colossians 3:23-24 indicate that even the service we give our physical bosses is considered as service rendered to God.

“God is not going to settle for a cheap, sloppy, careless, inferior bit of workmanship,” Plain Truth founder Herbert W. Armstrong wrote. “He commands that we shall be ‘perfect, even as your Father in heaven is perfect.’ A careless workman once complained to me, ‘The trouble with you, Mr. Armstrong, is that you are a perfectionist!’ I guess he was right. He should tell God, ‘The trouble with you, God, is that you are a perfectionist!’ God is a perfectionist. And so am I. How about you?” (April 1965).

“Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest” (Ecclesiastes 9:10). This doesn’t say “whatsoever you are good at” or “whatsoever you like to do, do with your might.” It most certainly includes our daily work.

“I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day,” Jesus said, “the night cometh, when no man can work” (John 9:4). The return of Jesus Christ is drawing near. But instead of taking away our motivation to work, this ought to serve as a prod to work harder!

Some people criticized Mr. Armstrong for continuing to expand the work of God’s true Church by constructing new buildings when they thought Jesus Christ’s return was imminent. In an Aug. 28, 1967, letter to supporters of the Church, he wrote: “If we knew Christ should come tomorrow, and we needed a new building for His Work, and today was the day to start building it, I would break ground and start that new building on its way today! And I would be busy building it tomorrow as I would be caught up to meet Him!”

Christ said in Matthew 24:46 that His faithful servants will be the ones who are found working and building right up until His arrival! God doesn’t want us to just sit around and wait for His return. He wants us to continue working and building, physically and spiritually.

Imagine builders on top of their ladders, hammering away, working on a new building, and all of a sudden, Christ returns. Then they all just set down their tools and rise to meet Christ in the air. That’s the vision Matthew describes, and that’s the vision Mr. Armstrong had. He wanted to be found doing when Christ returns. And so should we.