Do Your Own Business

Ellet J. Waggoner

Advent Review, and Sabbath Herald 15, 7 | January 5, 1860 | p. 54

“AND that ye study to be quiet and to do your own business, and to work with your own hands,” “that ye may walk honestly towards them that are without; and that ye may have lack of nothing” (1 Thes. 4:11, 12).

It is to be feared that there are comparatively few who sufficiently heed this admonition; or at least that of coupling together industry and quietude. They may exist separately, but cannot appear so graceful. Were they not both exemplified in the life of Jesus who is our example? Is it not written of him, “He shall not cry nor lift up nor cause his voice to be heard in the street?” (Isa. 42:2). And did he not work with his hands for his own support and that of his parents for nearly thirty years? And what was all this for? Doubtless for our example, and that he might be a merciful High Priest, having himself passed through all the toils and privations to which fallen man is subject. He knew very well that God had said to man. “In the sweat of thy face shalt thou eat bread, till thou return unto the ground” (Gen. 3:19). Therefore both he and his apostles were particular to teach, not only by example, but by precept, also that we should be both “diligent in business, fervent in Spirit, serving the Lord.” May we not with the mind serve the law of God, while our hands are employed in the busy cares of life? Surely we can if our adorning is that of a meek and quiet spirit which is in the sight of God of great price.

I believe the time has come when the Lord has seen proper to let increased light shine out upon these minor duties as well as greater ones; and that by the neglect of them we may as certainly incur his displeasure or grieve away his Spirit as though he had called us to occupy a prominent place in the church, and we failed to discharge our duty. I have seen so much of this spirit of do nothing in the world, which never fails to bring with it confusion and every evil work, that I am sick of it, and look upon it as a grievous sin, one that the church of God should carefully guard against and endeavor to be entirely free from.

In passing through this world I have observed some of my own sex who unhappily had the faculty of busying themselves week after week in doing nothing more toward supplying the wants of a family, than merely to attend to the daily demands of nature. I will relate a little incident, which I particularly noticed some years ago.

A woman of my acquaintance sent her little girl to school to me for weeks with a piece of calico tied over her head, out of which she intended to make her a bonnet as soon as she had leisure. She also suffered her husband to go without socks because she could not find time to finish a pair, which had been on the needles for months. At the same time she was a healthy, industrious woman, having nothing requiring her attention but her household affairs for a small family. But she had not the faculty of working to any advantage. “Never be unemployed,” is a good motto, but, always be profitably employed, is a better one. What then is the duty of commandment-keepers in this respect? Read, “Six days shalt thou labor and do all thy work.” Do we get all our work done in six days? Do we not sometimes carry the work of the six days into the seventh, or lay it over for the coming six days? I have had some solemn reflections while observing this state of things, and wondered if Jesus would not come to gather his people and find many of us as unprepared for his coming and kingdom as we are for the weekly return of the Sabbath. If he should, we should not come off so well as we do while from time to time we continue to desecrate his holy rest day. Every family has its toils and cares. Jesus knew this, and he knew also that the natural heart was inclined to be entirely taken up with the cares of this world. Therefore we find him repeatedly giving caution against this very thing. His gentle reproof to Martha may serve as an example of the light in which he regarded those who were so careful about many things, to the neglect of answering the great object of our creation, which is to glorify God and enjoy eternal life in his kingdom. But while we do as the world does in any respect we can but expect a confused state of things. We must dispense with many things that they occupy time upon, must be more quiet, spend the time that they spend in foolish and vain conversation in meditation and prayer, work by the rule of the wise man, “Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might,” remembering also that Jesus has said, “Every idle word that men shall speak shall they give account thereof in the day of Judgment.” O, solemn thought!  Then let us be careful, and in the language of a minister to me when I first set my heart to seek God, “Place God before us in all that we say” (Matt. 12:36).