Work is an eternal principle and is the subject of our gospel discussion for this Sabbath Day. We know that work is important in heaven and on earth because of the examples and teachings of Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ. Jesus Christ, under the direction of Heavenly Father, worked to create the heavens and the earth. He worked when He caused the seas to gather in one place and the dry land to appear. He worked when He caused the grass, herbs, and trees to grow on the land. He worked when He created the sun, the moon, and the stars and hung them in the heavens. He worked as He created every living thing on the land or in the sea. When He placed Adam and Eve on the earth, He commanded them to take care of the earth and gave them dominion over all living things. (See Genesis 1:1-28.) We also know that Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ work because the Savior said, "My Father worketh hitherto, and I work" (John 5:17). The Savior also said, "I must work the works of him that sent me" (John 9:4).
When Adam and Eve left the Garden of Eden, work became the way of life on earth. The Lord said to Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). Adam and Eve worked to provide for their own needs and the needs of their children (see Moses 5:1). When the Lord gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, He said to the people of Israel, "Six days shalt thou labour" (Exodus 20:9). In the early days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the Lord said, "Now, I, the Lord, am not well pleased with the inhabitants of Zion, for there are idlers among them" (Doctrine and Covenants 68:31). President Heber J. Grant said, "Work is to be re-enthroned as the ruling principle of the lives of our Church membership" (Teachings of Presidents of the Church: Heber J. Grant , 115).
Parents have the responsibility to teach their children to work as they labor together to provide for the physical, spiritual, and emotional well-being of their family. Parents should never expect anyone to take care of this responsibility for them. The Apostle Paul wrote, "If any provide not for his own, and especially for those of his own house, he hath denied the faith" (1 Timothy 5:8).
Mothers and fathers can establish individual responsibilities for family members as they seek inspiration from the Lord and follow the counsel of the prophets. Just as providing the basic necessities of food and clothing are important, creating a home where principles of the gospel are taught daily and where love and order abound is also important.
Children should be taught to do their share of the work in the home, and children learn best when they receive work assignments that fit their abilities as well as receive praise for their successes. Children can develop good work attitudes, habits and skills through successful experiences in the home.
A good attitude toward work is very important because attitude affects feelings. Some people find work to be an exciting part of life while other people find work to be drudgery. It seems that the happiest of people enjoy their work. We lighten heavy loads when we help each other in our work.
The following story shows the difference that attitude can make in our daily labor: A traveler passed a stone quarry where he saw three men working at the same job. He asked each man what he was doing. The first man answered, "I am cutting stone." The second one said, "I am earning three gold pieces per day." The third man replied with a smile, "I am helping to build a house of God."
We can serve God in any honest work. King Benjamin, a righteous Nephite prophet, taught, "When ye are in the service of your fellow beings ye are only in the service of your God" (Mosiah 2:17). We are still helping some of God's children if our work provides only for ourselves or our families.
The Lord made plain that He is not pleased with anyone that is lazy or idle when He said, "The idler shall not have place in the church, except he repent and mend his ways" (Doctrine and Covenants 75:29). He also said, "Thou shalt not be idle; for he that is idle shall not eat the bread nor wear the garments of the laborer" (Doctrine and Covenants 42:42).
From the earliest days of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the prophets have taught the members to be independent and self-sustaining as well as avoiding idleness. No self-respecting person will voluntarily shift the burden of their own support to another person. They will supply the necessities of life to themselves and their families as long as they are able to do so. In addition, family members should accept the responsibility to care for their relatives who are unable to provide for themselves.
As important as work is, it is also important to maintain a balance between work, recreation, and rest. Work makes rest and relaxation more meaningful. We have six days every week to complete our work and participate in hobbies, recreation and other activities to refresh our bodies and minds. We are commanded to rest on the Sabbath day (see Exodus 20:10; Doctrine and Covenants 59:9-12) after working the previous six days to refresh our souls for the coming days.
Honest work brings many blessings into our lives. God told Adam, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread" (Genesis 3:19). This was not only a temporal law, but it was also a law for the salvation of souls because there is no division between spiritual, mental, and physical work. Work is a necessity for each of us to grow and develop character; it also brings many satisfactions that the idle will never know.
President David O. McKay said, "Let us realize that the privilege to work is a gift, that the power to work is a blessing, that the love of work is success" (Pathways to Happiness , 381).
The ancient prophet Lehi told his family that "Men are, that they might have joy" (2 Nephi 2:25). Work is the key to a fullness of joy in God's plan of salvation. Those who live righteous lives will one day return to live with Heavenly Father where we will have more work to do. As we grow and become more like our Heavenly Father, our work will become like His work, which is "to bring to pass the immortality and eternal life of man" (Moses 1:39). Thus, we can honestly agree that work is an eternal principle.