Those who are prepared to work tirelessly will definitely receive the payoff. The songs, poems, speeches, and old adages that echo this belief that hard work is the path to prosperity, are innumerable. Children of the 80's should certainly remember Barrington Levy's hit song 'Work' as an advocate of hard work. Truth be told, when the going gets tough and I need to find the grit to persevere, even I recite a quote that was taught to us by our Standard 5 teacher, Mrs. Edwards in preparation for the Common Entrance exam (now Secondary Entrance Assessment). I reminiscently smile about our bursting enthusiasm to raise our voices in unison, and recite this poem in the catchy sing-song melody that we created:
“The heights by great men reached and kept
were not attained by sudden flight,
but they, while their companions slept,
were toiling upward in the night."
- Henry Wadsworth Longfellow
At that tender age we could not completely comprehend its deep meaning because we had not yet been served with any summons to appear before the trials of life that would eventually sentence many of us to toil through test after test, year after year.
Pearls of wisdom such as ‘the early bird catches the worm’ and ‘don’t let the sun catch you in your bed’, were drummed into us as children. I am drawn to ponder whether this mindset may be the culprit for the grandiose self-sufficient posture of the affluent, who credit their accomplishments to their talent, ability and hard work. If that sentiment bears any truth then it is not far-fetched to understand why some people believe that those who are poor and struggling, simply do not work hard enough. After all, the book of Proverbs does say that “lazy people want much but get little, but those who work hard will prosper. (Proverbs 13:4)
However, if hard work was the only criterion to attain fulfilment, how would you describe the situation of that vagrant, colloquially termed ‘piper’ or ‘spranger’, who is always busily going somewhere and doing something. I mean, you won’t see more purposeful steps anywhere than a diligent vagrant. He or she is usually willing to undertake the most difficult tasks and never appears to be unwilling or short on energy. Sure, he or she might be motivated by a hunger to satiate an addictive and self-destructive craving. Still, though each person’s motivation to exert or over-exert him/herself may be different, the vehicle is the same: work, and a lot of it, to achieve fulfilment.
It doesn’t take very long though, to notice that the causal link between hard work and success is weak, since busyness or hard work does not guarantee advancement.
Conversely, Jesus’ favour AND diligent work will result in success.
“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.” (Psalms 127: 1-2).
This passage of scripture for me, repaired a distorted perspective that may have been created by free market thinking, and realigned work in the context of God’s anointing, and His enabling grace. I am convinced that our work will result in progress and prosperity when it is blessed by God, and that our work will yield success when it is propelled by God. I am encouraged by Joseph (Gene 39:3), David (1 Sam 18:14), Rahab (Joshua 2) and Uzziah (2 Chro 26:5) who were all successful because God was with them and blessed them.
Believers and even non-believers are quick to recite, “by the sweat of your brow will you have food to eat” (Genesis 3:19). However, God carefully reminds us in Psalms 127:1 - 2 that whatever we do, God must be in it so that He could be the one to bless it and prosper it.
Busy work is not necessarily beneficial work.
Hard work is not necessarily diligent work.
Excessive work is not necessarily anointed work.
Work, but ensure that it is blessed work!
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‘My Favourite Scriptures: A Devotional For New Believers” contains reflections on fundamental principles about God’s love, His forgiveness, your new character/nature, submission and obedience to God, His blessings and provision, and His protection. I use deeply personal experiences to make the scriptures relevant to you. This book is a reflection of the grace that God showers on me, having used my lowest points and all my failures to increase my compassion so that I can spread the message of His love to the world.
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