Today is traditionally a day to celebrate the workers in our country. It’s supposed to be a holiday, but in 2020 with our 24/7 mindset, it’s impossible for everyone to have this day as a holiday. But it is a day when we can be thankful for all the hard workers that keep our country flourishing.
Solomon had some advice/sayings in Proverbs for those who work hard:
Wise words bring many benefits, and hard work brings rewards. (12: 14)
Good planning and hard work lead to prosperity, but hasty shortcuts lead to poverty. (21: 5)
Work hard and become a leader; be lazy and become a slave. (12: 24)
Lazy people are soon poor; hard workers get rich. (10: 4)
Lay people want much, but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. (13: 4)
Wealth from get-rich schemes quickly disappears; wealth from hard work grows over time. (13: 11)
It’s obvious that Solomon admired hard workers and was sure that they would be successful. And we would probably agree with the statements he made.
However, I was interested in Solomon’s thoughts when I read Psalm 127 – a Song of Ascent attributed to Solomon. Gotquestions.org explains what a Song of Ascent is:
“The city of Jerusalem is situated on a high hill. Jews traveling to Jerusalem for one of the three main annual Jewish festivals traditionally sang these songs on the “ascent” or the uphill road to the city. According to some traditions, the Jewish priests also sang some of these Songs of Ascent as they walked up the steps to the temple in Jerusalem.
Each of the psalms in this collection begins with the title “A Song of Ascents.” While perhaps they were not originally composed for this purpose, these psalms were later grouped together for use in travelling toward Jerusalem for the yearly Jewish festivals.” (Psalms 120 – 134)
Here is what Solomon said:
“Unless the Lord builds a house, the work of the builders is wasted. Unless the Lord protects a city, guarding it with sentries will do no good. It is useless for you to work so hard from early morning until late at night, anxiously working for food to eat; for God gives rest to his loved ones.” (Psalm 127: 1 – 2 NLT)
Solomon may admire hard workers, but down deep he realized that God was at the root of success. It’s not just ‘working your head off’ that makes you productive. It’s putting our trust in God that brings results – and rest.
Does God work hard?
David talks about that in one of his psalms: “I remember the days of old. I ponder all your great works and think about what you have done.” (Psalm 143:5) One of the first mention of God’s work is in Genesis 2.
“So the creation of the heavens and the earth and everything in them was completed. 2 On the seventh day God had finished his work of creation, so he rested from all his work. 3 And God blessed the seventh day and declared it holy, because it was the day when he rested from all his work of creation.” (2: 1 – 3)
The creation of this universe was an incredible piece of work. And then God rested, and declared this seventh day was to be a holy day – a day of rest. This idea of balance in life between work and rest has been there from the beginning of creation, and it’s something we need to remember. In our culture today, we seem to find scarce time to rest. Many of us have jobs that require us to work on Sundays, and that seems to take our rest day away from us. But, we can still make it a priority to find that one day in a week where we have time to rest, to think about God, to take time to pray.
Some other ideas about work came to my mind. Some of us think that to please God, we need to work hard at it, that our work will make us acceptable to God. Our acceptance by God actually has nothing to do with our work. Romans 4: 5 says, “But people are counted as righteous, not because of their work, but because of their faith in God who forgives sinners.” Ephesians 2: 8 – 10 says, “God saved you by his grace when you believed. And you can’t take credit for this; it is a gift from God. 9 Salvation is not a reward for the good things we have done, so none of us can boast about it. 10 For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.”
See! Our acceptance by God does not rest on how hard we work to impress Him. But God does help us to live well; we don’t just sit back and do nothing.
“And I am certain that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished on the day when Christ Jesus returns.” (Philippians 1:6)
“For God is working in you, giving you the desire and the power to do what pleases him.” (Philippians 2:13)
So … all of you who are working hard – at your jobs, in your homes, at your church, in your neighbourhood – wherever God has placed you:
Remember to take some rest time and soak in God’s love for you
Remember you don’t have to work hard to be accepted by God
Remember that God is helping you to live well and please him. It’s not all on your shoulders.
“The humble will see their God at work and be glad. Let all who seek God’s help be encouraged.” (Psalm 69: 32)
Our song for today is The Goodness of God by Bethel Music