Blessed is every one who fears the Lord, who walks in His ways. When you eat the labor of your hands, you shall be happy, and it shall be well with you. —Psalm 128:1-2
These first verses speak of fear of the Lord and joyful labor. “Fear” means “to be afraid” or to have “moral reverence.” If we fear the Lord, we should also fear becoming irreverent in our jobs and in our lives, realizing the poor legacy we would leave. Our founding fathers described the United States as a people endowed by our Creator with certain unalienable rights, including life, liberty, and the pursuit
of happiness; but a quick glance at the news reveals that few Americans have been successful in that.
This would have to mean that people aren’t really following God’s instructions for happiness. What does He tell us should be our attitude? “Whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ” (Col 3:23-24). But it appears that many have decided that “what we do,” and not “how we do it,” is the key to happiness. God tells us that as believers who serve the Lord first of all, whatever we do we are to do it heartily as unto Him.
Obedience will always be blessed, and blessings begin with fearing the Lord, which will show itself by our walking in His ways. This will result in contentment when we eat the labor of our hands. Here’s something to consider: Work is meant to feed you, not fulfill you. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t have a sense of fulfillment in our labors, but I am talking about a point of identity—what satisfies our life and our heart’s desires? Listen, God isn’t anti-education, anti-success, or anti-wealth. But He is anti-“finding your identity” through any of those things! In fact, fearing the Lord and walking in His ways makes the fruit of your labors, no matter what those labors may be, a source of happiness and success—or, as our psalmist writes, that “it shall be well with you.”
The fact is, far too many people are looking for a sense of “wholeness,” a sense of fulfillment, from their labors, when those things are only truly found in serving the Lord. “Do not overwork to be rich; . . . cease! . . . For riches certainly make themselves wings; they fly away like an eagle toward heaven” (23:4-5). Paul wrote: “Godliness with contentment is great gain. . . . [H]aving food and clothing, with these we shall be content. Those who desire to get rich fall into a temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.
For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil . . . ” (1 Tim 6:6-10). The word “contentment” means “A perfect condition of life in which no aid or support is needed; sufficiency of the necessities of life, and a mind contented with its lot.” We need to ask ourselves some serious questions at this point. Do we truly believe that we have all we need if we have Christ in our lives? Is His grace sufficient for us? Is our mind content with the things we have? Or are we “chasing the dream,” thinking that at the end of the pursuit lies something that we’ve been thus far able to attain: true happiness?
Do you realize that work is a source of provision and not your true identity? Do you understand that no matter what we do, if we do it as unto the Lord, we will always find blessings in our lives? Your job title may be “Dr.” It may be District Attorney or Professor or something else. But your true calling as a disciple of Christ is to preach the gospel to every creature, and your identity is in Him, not in your career! Your true calling is as a servant of God. It’s a good idea to stop and search our hearts in these matters from time to time, and if we gain a godly perspective on working for a living and working for the Lord, we can truly head off for both jobs singing in our hearts!
Excerpt from “Beside Still Waters” now available on Amazon.