Monday, October 27, 2014

1 Corinthians 9:7-10 -- On Working in Hope

"Who goeth a warfare any time at his own charges? who planteth a vineyard, and eateth not of the fruit thereof? or who feedeth a flock, and eateth not of the milk of the flock?
Say I these things as a man? or saith not the law the same also?
For it is written in the law of Moses, Thou shalt not muzzle the mouth of the ox that treadeth out the corn. Doth God take care for oxen?
Or saith he it altogether for our sakes? For our sakes, no doubt, this is written: that he that ploweth should plow in hope; and that he that thresheth in hope should be partaker of his hope."
1 Corinthians 9:7-10

This is interesting.  In this chapter Paul is making a specific point about not charging people for preaching or missionary work, but it also reminded me of something in Isaiah 65:22 that we read in Sunday School this week.  Talking about the Millennium, that verse says in part: "They shall not build, and another inhabit; they shall not plant, and another eat."  To me, these messages seem to be about choice and hope.  These verses start out asking us who goes to war and commands himself, or pays his own way.  Same with vineyards and flocks.  Who chooses to do something and doesn't benefit from it?  These aren't necessarily rhetorical questions.  Slaves do, and for sure in the modern day we have a lot of people doing things that are very far removed from the natural rewards of their labors.  We might start building a house and because of a tragedy never be able to finish it or live in it.  Or we might work for a company that builds houses, or plants or serves food, and even though we get paid, it might not be enough to actually enjoy a house or feed our families, especially if we're working on luxury accommodations or in luxury resorts.  I think it is a common worry... to know that we can work and work and work, and even when it is on something exciting and cool, we might not be able to make ends meet, let alone get ahead.
I like the idea here that we should be able to choose our work, and do it "in hope" ... and, from the Isaiah verse, that in the Millennium our labor will be directly tied to our rewards.  What we work on will be what we get.  That might not always be a good thing, if we slack off and do almost nothing, but it follows the gospel ideals of becoming what we work at... reaping what we sow, getting the reward that we offer to others.  Today, let's choose our work wisely, and pour ourselves into it, knowing that God will reward our righteous efforts.

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