Working, working, happy working.. I love to work…. Okay I will confess, my name is workaholic. You could say… I am like Giselle in the Disney movie, Enchanted.
The problem with being a workaholic is… if you aren’t one, you could say, “How could there be a problem with working too much… busy hands happy heart”… we love to be working so much that most often our attention has been so misdirected and we spend too much time and effort and resources on many unworthy projects. We totally miss the best… for God’s glory and settle on the good or even on the worst. But thanks be to God, Psalms 127 comes to our rescue. It says, 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.
One of the gloriously important words in these two very short, yet powerful verses is the word ‘vain’. It is so important for us to see that God mentions it 3 times for us. Redundancy, Yes! Redundancy is helpful. The word ‘vain’ has several definitions that are extremely enlightening for the Giselle’s of this world. It literally means destructive ruin, but also denotes uselessness as in deception and falsehood. But this kind of vanity can be figuratively used in conjunction with idolatry. So, basically, God is telling workaholics that ‘the work’ that we love and hold so close and tenderly in our hearts can be a form of idolatry – false worship, motivated by pride and deception. Yikes!
We don’t have to look very far in the bible to find an example of this. Take for instance the tower of Babel. In Gen 11:4, the people said, “Come, let us build ourselves a city and a tower with its top in the heavens, and let us make a name for ourselves, lest we be dispersed over the face of the whole earth.”
Gods response? The LORD said, “Behold, they are one people, and they have all one language, and this is only the beginning of what they will do. And nothing that they propose to do will now be impossible for them. Come, let us go down and there confuse their language, so that they may not understand one another’s speech.” So the LORD dispersed them from there over the face of all the earth and they left off building the city. Therefore its name was called Babel, because there the LORD confused the language of all the earth. And from there the LORD dispersed them over the face of all the earth (Genesis 11: 6-9).
In vain they toiled and the Lord’s face was against them. Conversely, when Solomon determined to build a house for the Lord, it was a very different scenario. God aided him in this great undertaking; even the non-believers were at Solomon’s disposal, enabling him to build the temple for the Lord. It is noteworthy that in the same way, God blessed Solomon in the construction of his own palace. This verse evidently applies to all sorts of building.
Without God, our work is for naught. Great works have been painstakingly designed and built by ambitiously working people, but without God, they lay in ruins with scarce a stone remaining to tell where once they stood (The Treasury of David).
Obviously, I am not a builder of buildings, yet when I search my heart, I know the analogy stands. Strategies and programs are my work, my buildings. But these too, must reflect a focus on God rather than a focus self. Pride, vanity and deception must not lead the work. We must submit wholly to God and allow Him to lead the endeavor. Obviously, if God is not acknowledged, how can we expect His blessing, and without His blessing all is worthless, vanity, nothing. The best-laid projects will fail unless God leads.
The bible gives us another great example. When people are self serving, self centered and of the flesh (Galatians 5: 16-23) as the Edomites were in this situation, they will find enmity with God. The verse says, ‘If Edom says, “We are shattered but we will rebuild the ruins,” the LORD of hosts says, “They may build, but I will tear down, and they will be called ‘the wicked country,’ and ‘the people with whom the LORD is angry forever (Malachi 1:4).'” God tells us of His contempt for carnality as He declares His hatred of the Edomites, of the people like ‘Esau”. However, it isn’t just the man or a particular people that God finds detestable; it is the “Esau-like” character. We are Edomites when we are prideful; vain; idolatrous; fleshly; self-loving (Malachi 1: 3; Romans 9: 13; Hebrews 12: 16). As an Esau we must humble ourselves, confess and turn from this, and back to God.
Those that love God will be beloved by Him as Solomon was. Solomon was not a perfect man and yet God did love him and called him Jedidiah – Beloved of the Lord (2Samuel 12:25). So, it comes down to this…. we workaholics, have a choice. Who will we choose to follow? As for me, this day call me, Jedidiah.