We try so hard to gain approval; to prove to the world that we are worth the air we breathe and worth far more than anyone gives us credit for. Yet we stoop to the level of following the crowd; always wanting to feel accepted by one group or another, one person or another.
It is a never ending battle to be loved and to find meaning in life. But doesn’t that sound exhausting; to always try, but never be satisfied with what we have or with what has already been done? That sounds like a restless, fruitless, and purposeless life.
If we cannot rest and enjoy our labors without thinking of something else to gain or do, then what is the reason for our labors?
A friend and previous coworker of mine told me once, “I work really hard, so that I can be lazy.” Perhaps that is a bit of a hyperbole, but the point is that when a company creates more efficient processes, it frees up those whose plates were too full. They can finally find time to spend with family and to cherish all the gifts God has given and/or they can find time to devote to more projects at work. For those who already didn’t have enough to do, more efficient processes may mean searching for a new job or taking on new responsibilities, but there is always a sense of improving; moving forward and never looking back.
In the workplace, as well as in life, there tends to be a mentality of always trying and never being fully satisfied; either “succeed, or die trying.” Well, most people die trying without ever realizing that they had succeeded. Joy and prosperity are always at hand, but it takes open eyes and an open mind to see them and perceive them. I am not preaching laziness, but an appreciation for both work and rest and an acknowledgement that both of those things are necessary in life. And I am also not preaching the Gospel of Prosperity and Peace, because God does not promise such things in this life; but each of us can learn, in whatever state we are, to be content. (Philippians 4:11) Whether rich or poor, healthy or strong, we can always find a reason to rejoice and a reason to persevere.
Gratitude is a choice; a way of life. Now, just because we are grateful does not mean that we don’t strive to be better people or try our best to live for the glory of our Father. What it means is remembering the Sabbath; that quiet and rest is just as glorifying to God as work, because that is one of the things He commands us to do. We should take time to enjoy what God has given us and those He has placed in our lives. Rest and worship should always be a part of our to-do lists.
Gratitude is obedience, rather than sacrifice; trusting that God will provide, and that some things are more important. Sometimes, going to a family get-together is more important than having dinner with the boss, or sometimes it is more important to spend time with your grandparents than to watch the big game. The treasures we store up in Heaven cannot be weighed by hours spent at work or even in a church building. Rather, our eternal treasure is measured in how well we loved, trusted, and served our Savior.
All our works, when weighed in the balance of eternity, account for nothing… unless they are wrought in Christ and for His glory.
Do you think it glorifies God to always strive for a higher position at work and neglect time with your family? Do you think it glorifies God when you strive to attract a marriage partner, while neglecting God’s call on you to be pure, holy, and set apart? Do you think it glorifies God when you choose every other pursuit rather than taking time every day to read His Word, worship Him, and pray to Him?
Too many of our pursuits and dreams are not wrought in Christ and do not bring glory to His name.
We have not been called by God to try really hard to be the best people we can be according to the world’s standards. He calls us to seek His Kingdom first and be holy as He is holy. And with His Holy Spirit within us, it is possible for us to be the best people we can be according to His standards.
Pursuing the glory of God may not bring popularity or riches, but it will bring peace to our souls and rest to our bones.
So, examine yourself and your pursuits. What do you strive for the most? Why do you work? Obviously, we must all work to provide a decent living for ourselves, but the way you work can either bring glory to your Heavenly Father or shame. You can strive to be the best athlete, mom, dad, CEO, janitor, or laundry folder, but if you are not striving to first be the best son or daughter of God, then all you strive for will inevitably fall short.
I know some people who are rich in this life and rich in Christ, and I know some who are rich in this life, but cannot find rest for their souls. I know some people who are poor in this life and rich in Christ, and I know some who are poor in this life and destitute in their souls. Ultimately, money and position will not bring you rest or peace. Even poverty does not dictate righteousness or a life of peace and rest. Only Christ gives rest. Only He brings peace. But we must also expect that riches, prosperity, and feeling loved by everybody are not synonymous with rest and peace. Today, Jesus has both rest and peace, but He was first abandoned by His friends and beaten until He was unrecognizable. If you profess Christ as your Savior, then you must reconcile this in your mind; try as you might, you can never be as holy and good as Christ, and just because you are saved does not mean that you won’t suffer just like He did. The blessing and hope is that our labors are not in vain. The Lord of the harvest walks with us, bringing comfort, strength, and a steadfast love.
Try, but don’t let the trying kill you. Take time to pray, rest, and enjoy what God has given you. As your faith grows, may you find that your labors bear fruit. But whether or not your trying leads to great wealth or position, persevere in your labors for the glory of your Heavenly Father. May His blessings rest upon your labors, and may He grant you eternal success and rest.
I tell you this, brothers: flesh and blood cannot inherit the kingdom of God, nor does the perishable inherit the imperishable. Behold! I tell you a mystery. We shall not all sleep, but we shall all be changed in a moment, in the twinkling of an eye, at the last trumpet. For the trumpet will sound, and the dead will be raised imperishable, and we shall be changed. For this perishable body must put on the imperishable, and this mortal body must put on immortality. When the perishable puts on the imperishable, and the mortal puts on immortality, then shall come to pass the saying that is written:
“Death is swallowed up in victory. O death, where is your sting? O grave, where is your victory?”
The sting of death is sin, and the power of sin is the law. But thanks be to God, Who gives us the victory through our Lord Jesus Christ.
Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, unmovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, forasmuch as you know that your labor in the Lord is not in vain. – 1 Corinthians 15:50-58
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