In recent days it’s become known that many parents bribed college officials to admit their children into prestigious universities. This was done by arranging scholarships for a sport their child didn’t play or paying to give test scores a boost. The idea was that for their child to have the best chance at a good life, such steps were worth it.
The most obvious ones hurt in this, of course, are the students who put in the time and sacrifice to have a shot at their dream school, only to have the dream pulled away for someone with more money who was less deserving.
The other side of that are the students who – it would seem – initially benefitted from the scandal. They went to the college of their choice. In the worldly scheme of things, they will probably rebound and live a comfortable life. In the grandest of perspectives, though, there’s a solid biblical lesson they’re missing.
Do the work.
The concept of work is mentioned in Scripture as early as Adam in the Garden, prior to the Fall. In Psalm 90 Moses wrote a prayer extolling God’s magnificence and ends it with a call for the Lord to “establish the work of our hands!” Proverbs talks about the benefits of “diligent” hands (12:24) and that “mere talk tends only to poverty” (14:23).
Doing the work comes in many forms: getting up early, completing that assignment, or saying “no” to the harmless, fun thing you want to do and “yes” to the less-fun-but-more-necessary thing you need to do.
While many in Jesus’ time may have questioned his choosing a brood of blue-collar guys for his disciples; it makes sense. They were accustomed to doing the work. The Resurrection motivated them to go throughout the world and establish the Church, of course. But in those times when things got tough, I think their background of getting things done, helped get things done.
This concept of “work” goes beyond what we see. It does more than bring a paycheck or seemingly comfortable life. Jesus addressed this in John 6. Verse 25 tells us that people had been looking for Him. Having witnessed Him feed the five thousand the day before, they were shocked when they sailed across and found the Lord on the other side of the Sea of Galilee (unaware of Him walking on water the previous night). On seeing Christ, they asked why He was there.
Jesus got to the heart of their motives, pointing out that they sought him not because of what He could teach them, but because they had (physically) eaten their fill the day before.
“Do not labor for the food that perishes,” he said, “but for the food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give to you. For on him God the Father has set his seal” (v. 27 ESV).
Our work brings material benefits, sure. But it also brings us humility. It brings us pride. The Christian’s “work” that brings “the food that endures to eternal life” comes about through spending time in things such as prayer, study, and serving others.
Currently I’m an assistant coach on my son’s baseball team. During games, my primary responsibility is keeping the scorebook. Want to know how many times I had done that prior to opening day last weekend? That would be a zero. Had no idea how do it. It showed in how the book looked at the close of the first game.
But I won’t get better by not keeping the book. So, I’ll do it again. It’ll become more familiar to me. In time, I might even enjoy it. Maybe.
As I mentioned earlier, the students involved in the scandal will probably be okay by the world’s standards. When your parents are willing to fork over $500,000 in bribes or $75,000 for someone else to correct your test grade scores, they’ll find a way to keep you comfortable. But there are other, darker effects. One parent, the New York Times reported, paid up to $5,000 for a psychologist to write a report stating his daughter had a disability. That, in turn, gave her special accommodations to take the test.
I don’t see how such a life can’t affect you. The benefits of work laid out in Scripture are clear. It’s one of those biblical truths those who spend any amount of time reading their Bible can see but gets missed by everyone else. To them, putting in the effort can almost seem foolish.
Do the work.