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Most of the articles on these WebPages have been written by godly men with a central belief in the Lord Jesus Christ. However as with most of us, they may have different beliefs concerning some particular doctrines. These articles have been made available for the purpose of “gleaning the good” where good can be found. I do not necessarily endorse all that is written by others, anymore than I expect others to endorse all that I write.

   Morning Thoughts by Elder Philip Conley

Genesis 3:19, "In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground; for out of it wast thou taken: for dust thou art, and unto dust shalt thou return."

This morning, the discussion of "rights" very often is a counterfeit for laziness. When people discuss their "human rights," they are speaking of entitlement or things perceived as deserved on the part of the individual. However, discussions about just desserts and human rights fail quite often on the point that man must work at things to gain things in this life. For the farmer that plants the fields, he understands that the crops do not come forth without effort. For the man that works in other fields of endeavours, he understands that his family will not eat without effort and diligent labour put forth. The people that discuss their rights fail to see that the only "right" we have in this world is to do what is right. Try to steal for your groceries and see how many rights you really have. Try to undercut others to gain more fortunes and see what rights are yours when the discovery of the action is made. Therefore, the discussion of rights
(which are really more aptly termed privileges) is a shield for people to be lazy and do nothing at all.

The verse before us is another verse most often misquoted. Firstly, the text is quoted many times as, "By the sweat of thy brow." Notice that God is in the midst of a pronouncement of many different curses. The ground is cursed, the woman is cursed, the man is cursed, and the serpent is cursed. Thankfully, there is a great promise of the woman's seed in the midst of all that cursing, but the man's curse is to eat bread in the sweat of his face. Consider for a moment if the text did read "brow" instead of "face." What is the difference? The difference is that it takes more work to make the sweat appear all over the face, and it takes very little to make it pop out on the brow. During a hot Mississippi summer day, I can have sweat on my brow moments after walking outside. Just walking across the parking lot can make me sweat, but my face is not covered by it. The diligent effort it takes to make the face sweat is what the Lord pronounced upon
man to be able to make bread and other things come forth from the ground.

There is effort involved in keeping the thorns and thistles out of the field. There is much labour in keeping watch care over the tender plants so that they will come to fruition. The amount of labour necessary will come with great sweat that covers the individual, and not a little labour that makes for a little sweat. Sadly, many today are benefiting in not working at all, which Paul affirmed out not so to be. (II Thessalonians 3:8-10) For us to be able to eat, we must work. For our food to come forth, we must work diligently and consistently. Now, let us transition to the spiritual plane for just a moment and then go back to the text at hand.

While we understand that the immediate thought here is natural labour for natural food, consider the parallel between that and spiritual labour. Paul makes the analogy for such in Galatians 6 in discussing sowing and reaping. How do we labour in spiritual fields of service? How are we to eat from those fields that we serve in? The amount of labour in natural fields for food is great (sweat of the face), and the amount of labour in spiritual fields is great (sweat of our soul). How many times do we pray once for something and then give up when we feel the supplication unanswered? How often do we come to worship, feel not to be blessed, and think about not going anymore? How often do we read the Scriptures and not glean anything and stop reading? My own experience is filled with such occasions and miserable circumstances. Just as natural fields need continual tending for the fruit, so our spiritual fields need continual nurturing to bear fruit
for the Lord's glory.

Weeds must be constantly uprooted. Plants must be watered, sunned, sometimes fertilized, and pruned at times for the abundant, luscious fruit to come forth. Finally, the fruit takes time from planting to reaping. The harvest does not come overnight, but the time invested by the farmer is finally realized in manifest fashion when the fruit comes off the vine. Our efforts are realized in manifest glory when we labour patiently, do not grow weary in well doing, and reap in due season if we faint not. Let us therefore patiently endure until the Son of our Righteousness rains His merciful showers upon us for a rich harvest in our lives.

Getting back to the text at hand, notice also that the text does not read, "By the sweat of the face," but rather, "In the sweat of thy face." Again, what is the difference? Let us examine the remainder of the text to discover the difference. The Lord goes on from that to speak of Adam's eventual outcome according to nature. We, as creatures of the dust (Adam's descendants), will one day be laid to rest in the ground if the Lord does not return first. While our soul and spirit (changed by the hand of God Himself) go back to God, our mortal remains go back to the dust from whence they came.

The Lord says that the labour will transpire until that day that the body returns to the dust. The sweat continues until the body is laid to rest. The difference between "by" and "in" from the verse is that we must still labour even while eating. There is a continuation that never ceases until our bondage here is over. Should the text have read "by," one might declare, "I have laboured, and my face has sweat. Now it is time to eat." The labours here do not cease; even after harvest time, more work remains. Even when we are blessed to eat, the labour must continue on as one cycle of sowing, labouring, and eventual reaping is not sufficient. Our bodies must have food continually, and the labour must continue for the food until our bodies no longer need it (death).

Likewise, our efforts in spiritual fields continue until the warfare between the spirit and the flesh is laid to rest. One harvest in God's house is not sufficient to carry us through the further scenes of life. One feeding from God's bountiful storehouse will not give strength for all our remaining days. One sermon on grace will not bring experiential peace for a lifetime. As one piece of bread is not sufficient bread forever, one grace sermon is not sufficient for the course of our journey. We need these things continually. Most importantly, we need the Lord's abiding presence continually to avoid the pitfalls and snares of life and the devil. May our faces sweat naturally to show forth the diligent effort required to feed our families here, and may our souls sweat and labour in God's vineyard to feed our brethren here with the growth and glory for the labour going to the One who giveth the increase.

In Hope,

Bro Philip