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.
It is vain for you to rise up early,
To retire late,
To eat the bread of painful labors;
For He gives to His beloved even in his sleep. (Psalm 127:1-2)
The line between striving and laziness is very fine. I used to think that living on the correct side of the line was a matter of knowing God’s will for my life. So I started striving to know the exact details of that will.
Of course, it’s true that any effort that conflicts with the will of God is ultimately futile. We cannot construct or preserve anything in life if God says otherwise. Long days of sweaty brows and aching muscles will be wasted if we ignore God. However, we sometimes make a sad mistake about knowing God’s will for our lives.
Although God loves the fact that we desire to do His will and to please Him, He does not want us to succumb to the paralysis of analysis. The symptoms of that condition include vast lengths of time doing little or no ministry or service. Instead, we strain to find God’s direction for us but receive no answers. Months and even years can go by with little fruit borne. There is a difference between desiring to do God’s will for His glory (healthy) and desiring to know God’s will so that we guarantee our own success (not so healthy).
The key to avoiding either striving or laziness lies in the last line of verse two. The Hebrew can be read in two different but complementary ways. God makes His loved ones fruitful even during their sleep, or God’s loved ones can sleep well, knowing that He is blessing their labors. It does not suggest that we can spend lazy days in bed while the Lord does all the work—we have a part to play. Neither does it imply that we will never have long hard days. However, in general, we can rest assured that God will prosper those who are in relationship with Him. The key to a productive Christian life is that word “beloved.”
Love is a two way street. God wants us to grow beyond a relationship where we beg to know His will as if we are desperately reading a map at an intersection. Instead, He wants the traffic on the street to start moving. In a love relationship, two individuals savor their knowledge of each other and build on that knowledge. What does it mean for you to be God’s beloved? It means to explore what the Bible says about His love for you and to experience His care and protection as you involve Him in your life. What does it mean for God to be your beloved? It means to reflect on His wonderful acts and attributes that are recorded in Scripture and to praise Him for all He does in and around you. Of course, God is more faithful to us than we are to Him, but there is no reason why the traffic of love cannot flow like a busy highway.
When we walk with the Lord in a love relationship, we will know His desires as well as those of any human lover. We will want to serve His purposes, and He will gladly bless our efforts.
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