I’ve been thinking about the role of work in a person’s life: work is a necessity… you have to work. Some people overwork, other people are lazy. Some people view their work as their identity… their means to attaining status, others view it as something they have to do in order to do what they want to do.
I read Psalm 127 tonight. The opening line of the Psalm reads “unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain, and unless the Lord watches over the city, its watchmen stand guard in vain.” Some people would take this to mean that Christians don’t have to do any work… don’t have to follow any rules, uphold and standards, or pressure themselves to put any effort into living a life of love. The New Testament teachings though paint a different picture about work. Jesus, one time, made this statement: “my heavenly Father is always working and I also am working.” 5 times Paul, in his letters, writes that the believers ought to “make every effort” to live according to certain standards.
So on the one hand, “unless the Lord builds the house, its builders labor in vain.”
… and on the other hand, “make every effort” …
how are these reconciled?
I don’t think the Bible teaches that the answer is in abandoning you work and living a life of laziness. Nor do I think its in pouring all your time, energy, and efforts into your work as if it all depends on you to get ahead in the world. The heart of what the Psalmist seems to be writing is : don’t do your work without God! Don’t pretend to do God’s work for Him! If you do, you are doing it in vain!
Disaster comes from the two extremes. Letting work drive our lives leads to the Tower of Babel…men building for their own glory. Abandoning work leads to laziness and apathy. But working as if God is sovereign over all the resources, people, and purposes in the world leads to gratitude, joy, generosity, and faithfulness. Colossians 3:23 seems to sum it up: “whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as if working for the Lord, not for men.”
These thoughts are what keep me going at my job that I don’t want to be at. 🙂