“Unless the LORD Builds…”
One of the most admired attributes in our world is a good work ethic. I don’t know too many people that don’t want to be known as a “hard-worker” or a “good employee.” Because of this many of us spend our days trying to be as productive as possible. We do all we can to remain busy. Who wants to be seen wasting their time? No one wants to be thought of as being lazy!
I think most of us would agree that a good work ethic is an honorable and wonderful thing for us to strive for. Especially as followers of Jesus, we want to honor God with the work of our hands and with how we represent Christ in our work.
However, we also need to be careful.
I say this because, if we aren’t careful, we will let this desire for productivity lead us to a place of self-reliance. We will charge at the tasks of our day at full-steam and forget to seek after God and His wisdom and His strength. We will get so caught up in doing “something” that we will forget that Jesus tells us that apart from Him we can do nothing. (John 15:5)
The reality is, no matter how productive we think we can be, or how much “work” we are getting “done”, if God isn’t in it and behind it – then ultimately it is destined to crumble or to yield any type of lasting benefits for anyone.
Sadly, even as a pastor I still need to re-learn this lesson quite often.
One my greatest fears, and a fear that is shared by many in ministry, is to be thought of as someone who is idle. I want to be productive. I want to be doing things that “move the needle.” I want to labor, and I want to see metrics that tell me that my labor is not in vain! Because of this, I often find myself pushing, and working, and striving. I often find myself questioning if I’m doing enough, or if I could have done more.
Because of these fears, far too many times in my life and ministry I find myself foolishly charging ahead in my own strength, and in my own wisdom, apart from the Lord. This never turns out well. As a pastor friend of mine says often, we have no business trying to do anything for God without first drowning it in prayer.
But the reality is, this isn’t just true for pastors or for those in ministry. This is the reality for ALL OF US. No matter what we do, if the Lord isn’t in it, then all we do is in vain.
This past week, as I was dealing with a bit of frustration, my daily Bible reading happened to take me to Psalm 127 and I read these words:
“Unless the LORD builds the house, those who build it labor in vain. Unless the LORD watches over the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep.” (Psalm 127:1-2)
I happened to be reading these words at 3:00 am because I couldn’t sleep and was feeling a bit anxious. God has a way of getting our attention, doesn’t He?
Friends, don’t get so caught up in trying to do so many “good things” that you forget that what you are actually called to do is the “God-things.” Unless God is directing you, and leading you, and giving you His strength to accomplish your tasks, no matter how good you think what you’re doing is – it’s going to crumble, and it’s going to be done in vain.
This will only lead you to frustration. This will only lead you to a life of anxious toil, and a whole lot of sleepless nights. Nobody wants that.
Seek the God who is your strength. (Psalm 73:26)
Seek the God who is your wisdom. (1 Corinthians 1:30)
Seek the God who is, and in whom you find your peace. (Psalm 119:165, Ephesians 2:14)
Trust in this God and find your rest in Him. (Matthew 11:28-30)