Man lives by bread.
His earthly, physical body is sustained by bread; and he must therefore receive a certain amount of that bread regularly, if he is to retain his earthly life. Take that bread away from him, and in effect you take away his life.
But man does not live by bread alone. He lives also by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God. The man who refuses to live by these words will find, as did the fool in Jesus’ parable, that although he has his barns full of that bread, God will require his life from him sooner or later. Likewise, long before this, Adam and Eve found that the wages of not living by the words that proceed from the mouths of God is death! Uzzah, who violated that word and touched the ark of God, also found that life was no longer his to enjoy. II Samuel 6:1-8.
This basic principle, which Jesus voiced to Satan in the wilderness, when He was tempted to seek bread apart from the words from God’s mouth, and which is a quotation from Deuteronomy 8:3, we will use in our consideration of the matter of membership in a labor union in the light of Holy Writ. Here, to begin with, is Scripture’s answer to the “bread question,” that is, “Man shall not live by bread alone, but by every word that proceedeth out of the mouth of God.” Matthew 4:4.
Those who are not willing to bow before this Word of God need read no further. Those who wish to place man’s word in the place of that which proceeds from God’s mouth will find no support in these lines. But if your soul is troubled, and you sincerely seek light in these dark and evil days and would have the “bread question” considered in the light of God’s Word, read on. And may God give strength and comfort and guidance to you and courage to walk according to His Word.
Let it be pointed out then from the outset that the words that proceed from God’s mouth are the words which we must heed. It is He Who gives us, our bread. It is He Who alone can and does give life. He is the one to Whom we must give account for all our deeds in this life. We can avoid His word; but we cannot escape Him. We can strive to live by bread alone; but we cannot flee from the words of judgment that will proceed forth from His mouth. Let us beware lest words from the mouth of man work a sinful influence upon us to cause us to dare to defy the Lord of life!
As we search His Word we find nothing that forbids us to organize into a labor union. We do find that Abraham was confederate with some of the Canaanites, and that Scripture in no way condemns this. Genesis 14:13. However, there are two qualifications which Scripture does make in regard to any such organizations. The union, society, organization or federation must have for its purpose the fostering and not the hampering of our Christian stewardship. Its purpose must not be to foster the satisfaction of our carnal covetousness. A man’s calling is to provide for the needs of his family; and to organize with others to insure this in a lawful way is not denied us by Holy Writ. But to join with others in order to strive for what others have, with a greedy eye and a desire for the lust of the flesh, the lust of the eye and the pride of life, is condemned by the tenth commandment. Let a man be sure that he is organizing or joining with others for his needs, honest needs before God, and not to keep up with the Joneses! A man’s life, Jesus says, does not consist in the abundance of the things which he possesses. And unless he is rich toward God, all his bread will bring him no more good than the rich fool in Jesus’ parable experienced, when God took away his life.
Another qualification of organizing. into a labor union, or of joining such an organization, is that we may not be unequally yoked with unbelievers. II Corinthians 6:14-18. We are one with unbelievers as members of a particular nation. We are born that way and cannot escape membership in a nation. This is the work of God’s providence; and it is unavoidable, for God will have man governed by those whom He invests with authority. But membership in a labor union is voluntary, and may not be sanctioned when it puts one in the position where he will have to behave contrary to the words that proceed from God’s mouth. Unequally yoked with the unbeliever he will have to do things the unbeliever’s way.
Indeed, a man may have to join himself to an ungodly man for his daily bread. His employer may be an unbeliever; and he may not be able to find any work except to work for the unbeliever as his employee, or he may have to ply his trade in the service of the unbeliever. This is not yoking oneself to that unbeliever. Joining a union of unbelievers, swearing loyalty to its constitution, voluntarily sitting down with them to make policy is agreeing to a program that will advocate going contrary to God’s Word.
But we hardly need say anything about this further, for according to governmental regulations this is the only kind of union that is possible anymore in our country. The possibility of a group of believers uniting on the basis of God’s Word to seek improvement of working conditions, salary, hours of employment and the like is limited only to those establishments where all the employees who organize a union are believers. The Taft Hartley law takes care of that in Section 9, (a), when it declares, “Representatives designated or selected for the purpose of collective bargaining by the majority of the employees in a unit appropriate for such purposes, shall be the exclusive representatives of all the employees in such a unit for the purpose of collective bargaining in respect to rates of pay, wages, hours of employment and other conditions of employment.” That simply means that the believers will have to be unequally yoked with unbelievers in these pursuits or get out of the factory, when there are unbelievers in the labor organization that represents ALL the workers in the establishment. If he joins such a society, he puts aside the words from God’s mouth in II Corinthians 6:14-18 and agrees to work with these unbelievers in their policies of collective bargaining, which will also be drawn up apart from and in conflict with the words from God’s mouth.
The unbeliever is exactly that: One who does not believe that he has to reckon with the words that proceed from God’s mouth. He does not and cannot sincerely say, “I believe in God the Father, Almighty, Maker of heaven and earth.” Rather does he with Pharaoh say, “Who is the Lord that I should obey His voice . . .?” Exodus 5:2. Or as Paul writes to the church at Rome, “The carnal mind is enmity against God: for it is not subject to the law of God, neither indeed can be.”Romans 8:7. He cannot see heaven and earth as God’s. He considers it all man’s to do with as he pleases. He knows no Christian stewardship. He never sees himself as God’s royal priesthood. And, what is more, for that is what Paul says, he sets himself up as God’s enemy. He opposes God in all his thinking, willing and acting. And essentially it means that he is still intent on becoming God, according to Satan’s lie, and take from Him the heavens and the earth of which He is the Almighty Maker.
Yoked with such, we must go along with them in their evil way. A little later we will be more specific and list the evil policies and practices which are characteristic of the so-called neutral unions. But at the moment we would simply point out that the policies of the unbeliever can only be contrary to the words that proceed from God’s mouth, and can only be those with which the believer cannot possibly agree. For the believer is one who believes in God, and that he is obliged to live for Him, even as he lives through Him with life that comes from Him. Entirely apart from the specific evil practices of the unbeliever, it is contrary to God’s Word for a man to join himself to the unbelievers by promising to go along with them in their “collective bargaining” and efforts for an honest wage, safe working conditions and hours of toil. If it is true, and it most emphatically is true, that we must live by everyword that proceeds from God’s mouth, then we simply may not join any organization of any kind that intends to ignore these words and sets itself up to make policies that defy that Word! Let us not, in our attempts to defend such membership in this very act depart from the words that proceed from God’s mouth and are recorded here in II Corinthians 6! For then we are trying to live by the words that proceed from, Satan’s filthy mouth. It was his evil word that first turned man from heeding God’s words. He moved man to believe that he could live apart from and in fact contrary to these words from God’s mouth. He wrought enmity in man’s heart against God. He deceived man into thinking that there was great profit in going contrary to these words of God and to hate Him for speaking words which frightened man from reaching the glory he “could” have.
And today it is a case of “either . . . or. . . .” There is this Word of God that we must obey Him in all things; and there is this word of Satan that we will live, truly live, only in the way of departing from and of walking contrary to God’s Word. The Word of God puts God and His glory first. Satan’s word puts man and the lust of his flesh, the lust of his eyes and the pride of his life first. God’s Word presents life as knowing God in His favor and covenant fellowship. Satan’s word lays all the stress on the physical existence of man with the satisfaction of his flesh. We agreed with Satan and chose to seek self and our flesh.
Thus it is today also that Satan’s word has gamed such a foothold and we hear the argument that it is man’s calling to provide for his family, and that this makes the yoke with the unbeliever right and necessary. This is but another way of saying that we need not heed every word from God’s mouth. It is the repetition of Satan’s lie, “Ye shall not die.” It proclaims that the wages of some sins is not death. It places all the value on the things of this life rather than on those of the life to come; and in fact teaches that we can attain to the things above by seeking the things below. This is but an echo of Satan’s lie that we can become like God by doing what God hates.
And let a solemn warning be given to all those who would try to hide behind this argument that providing for one’s family is one’s calling and makes such yoking with the unbeliever right and necessary. Such an argument is laying the groundwork for acceptance of the mark of the beast when the Antichrist appears. For, if we must go contrary to God’s word today for bread, the need will be far greater in that day when we will not be able to buy or to sell, unless we take that mark. But read Revelation 14:11, and you will see that though one may live a little longer on this earth by such violation of God’s Word, he loses his soul and will not have the joy of the everlasting life before God’s face in glory.
Today we are not in danger of starving to death, if we heed God’s Word and flee from all unequal yoking with the unbeliever. In the day of the Antichrist we will not only be in that danger but in that situation. But let us remember today, with a view to those evil days, that we do not live by bread alone but by every word that proceeds from the mouth of God.