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.
He was unhappy where he was in life, and he was looking for a way to “level up”, as they say. In his search for the answer to his discontent, he stumbled across some videos about this new thing called hustle culture. As he watched these men and women detail their rise to professional fulfillment and autonomy, the story was the same for each. They simply outworked their competitors. So, he decided he would do the same. He spent the next several years hustling about every waking moment. He did exactly as they said, but he did not reach their heights. In fact, all he was left with was very little sleep. He simply could not sustain this momentum for as long as it might take for him to make it, If he ever did.
We all face the temptation of living this life our own way. We live in a world in which certain trends are perpetuated, and it can be very easy to fall into these cultural patterns. Perhaps there is a certain way to measure success, and we want to be successful. Maybe we think we need to compete the way everyone else competes if we want to do well professionally. The problem is that we can spend a lot of time and energy chasing after something we never were meant to have. God’s word promises that He will give us rest, but we need to stop first. We need to know the difference between good fruitful work and anxious labor done in vain. One of these helps us sow into the kingdom, and the other is simply waste.
We often hear people talk about achieving a work-life balance. This principle is actually not far from what the word teaches. We are to have wisdom in our work, and part of that wisdom is knowing when to stop and enjoy the Lord’s rest. The great promise is that this rest is available for us when we need it. Actually, He makes it available for us because we need it. Even He rested when his work was done, and there is a lesson in that for us. [Gen. 2:2-3; Heb. 4:9-10] Be diligent, make the most of your days, work hard, but take the necessary time to enjoy his rest. Father, give us the widsom to do work that is good and fruitful, not to work in vain and not to forego your much-needed rest.