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Christian Living

Spiritual Life

Unless the Lord Builds the House

Unless the LORD builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; Unless the LORD guards the city, the watchman keeps awake in vain. (Psalms 127:1a NASB)

Recently, I had a day on my job that was an exercise in futility. I executed a change in my work schedule that I thought would be productive. When the desired results were not forthcoming I pressed even harder. I initiated subsequent strategies to try and make my plan work, but to no avail. I worked longer and harder than usual but accomplished even less than I did on most days.  When God is not working with us we actually labor in vain.

The next morning, part of my daily reading was Psalms 127. God is always right on time. As I read this passage I wondered why my efforts the previous day seemed so futile. Then it dawned on me that I had been trying to “build the house,” so to speak, without God’s help. God had choreographed this little incident so I could read this portion of Scripture at just the right moment. What an amazing God.

Sometimes there's a very fine line between diligence and striving. Of course God wants his people to be diligent. But God exhorts us to not strive. “Cease striving and know that I am God” (Psalm 46:10 NASB). So the pertinent point is how do we distinguish between hard work and nervous effort? It is simply the one that is accompanied with peace.

Looking back on that day, I had a restless spirit. God gave me a sign, but because I was not looking for it, I did not see it. Peace has been referred to as the barometer of the soul. It’s the indicator of how well our efforts are aligning with God's will. It is not the absence of struggle but the presence of calm or tranquilly in our daily battles. Our Heavenly Father is concerned about his children's daily life and peace is the compass that guides us.

The pivotal question in this process is whether we believe God wants to take care of us in the mundane aspects of our lives. Sometimes as Christians we can act like deists who believe that God created the universe and then sort of let it play out on its own. As you know the Bible says, “Faith without works is dead.”  But some of us practice that as work without faith.

Maybe I should have taken a few moments alone with God and asked him why I was so restless that day? He may well have revealed to me the source of my unrest. When we give way to the temptation to frenzied activity, it never lends itself to obedience to His will. When we feel that compulsion to work longer and longer days, sometimes we should just shorten our workday and retire early.  This may be the most diligent, obedient, and productive thing to do; “For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep” (Psalm 127:2c NASB).

Copyright 2016 Ken Barnes. Used with permission.

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