God Gives Us What We Need.
“Except the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it; except the Lord keeps the city, the watchman wakes but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to take rest late, to eat the bread of [anxious] toil – for He gives [blessings] to His beloved in sleep.” Psalm 127 [The Amplified Bible]
Before I begin to discuss this topic, let me remind you that one of the most important reasons for reading the Scriptures is to learn how we should think, to learn what attitude we should have about our life and circumstances, and to gain the proper perspective on life’s trials and challenges as they come upon us. Battles are won or lost based on what happens in people’s minds. Faith is a function of our inner man and therefore is very much a matter of how we think. The Bible contains many examples of what was in the minds of various men and women of faith, so that we can follow their pattern of thought as we walk in faith. The Bible’s teachings and instructions show us not only how to act, but also how to think and the attitude we should project. In contrast, the people who are entrenched in the world system, functioning without faith, have a completely different way of thinking than the Christian believer.
We must understand that there is no neutral position; our way of thinking is either influenced by the world system around us through television, movies, various media, educators, etc., or it is influenced by the Word of God as revealed in His Scriptures as we are guided by the Holy Spirit.
One of the dangerous mistakes that Christians make is to carry over their old way of thinking from the world into their new Christian walk. Be aware and be on guard to avoid this mistake. For some Christians, the old way of thinking creeps back into their lives as they allow these external worldly influences to affect their thoughts, and their time spent prayerfully reading and meditating on the Word of God and the things of God is decreased.
Note that the Scripture quoted above from Psalm 127 is very much contrary to the mindset of the world today, and is therefore considered to be foolishness in the light of the world’s advice and wisdom. Although the Psalm is specifically about a person building a house and a watchman who is watching a city, the general concept is about a person working hard to attain something that they want by “rising early and working late with anxious labor.” Let’s look closer at the world’s attitude and mindset in this area.
The wisdom of the world regarding our attitude towards getting the things that we want is that people must focus on their dreams and pursue them, that they must establish their goals and work hard to make them become a reality, not allowing failure or setbacks to lessen their determination.
As a result of this attitude, people end up getting the things that they want, for the most part. It may take a long time but eventually they get it. Unfortunately, in many cases the results are disappointing when they find out that the “grass isn’t greener” or that the thing they wanted isn’t what they expected. You have most likely heard the expression, “Watch out what you wish for because you just might get it.” People who say this have learned that getting what they wish for is very much different than what they expected and can even become more of a hardship and curse rather than a blessing as expected.
As I have stated earlier, people in the world, who are apart from God, are taught that they need to come up with a plan for their lives, and then they need to work hard to make that plan a reality. People are told that they should never just sit idle and wait for things to come to them – this would be a major error. When people have it in their minds that they want something, then they will work and work until they get it.
Many times the result of getting what they want is that they are very soon not satisfied and so they move on to the next thing that they want or that they think they need. Much of their stress and anxiety is the result of their striving to get these things.
The Psalmist in Psalm 127 said it this way, “they labor in vain” meaning that all of the hard work is futile and a waste. Why? It’s because our information is limited. We don’t know the future, and we don’t even know our own hearts and what we really need – but God does.
To be clear, I am not suggesting that the Scriptures are promoting laziness. On the contrary, it is clear from the Word of God that we all must work and do our part.
“Now we command you, beloved, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, to keep away from believers who are living in idleness and not according to the tradition that they received from us. For you yourselves know how you ought to imitate us; we were not idle when we were with you, and we did not eat anyone’s bread without paying for it; but with toil and labor we worked night and day, so that we might not burden any of you. This was not because we do not have that right, but in order to give you an example to imitate. For even when we were with you, we gave you this command: Anyone unwilling to work should not eat. For we hear that some of you are living in idleness, mere busybodies, not doing any work. Now such persons we command and exhort in the Lord Jesus Christ to do their work quietly and to earn their own living. Brothers and sisters, do not be weary in doing what is right.” 2 Thessalonians 3: 6-13
The Lord will show us the work that we need to do and it will not be a burden on us, and will not cause anxiety and stress.
The issue here is about the focus of our work, and about the direction of our life, or maybe more specifically, who is directing our life. Our labor is in vain when it is focused on what we want and not on what God is directing us towards. Instead of patiently waiting for the Lord to direct us towards what He wants for us, we stress and push towards what we think we want (or even think that God wants for us but in reality it our own desires).
When we first came to the Lord we most likely had the proper attitude about this. We had made God our God and recognized that we had made a mess out of our lives and it was easy for us to turn it over to Him. We liked to say things like, “God is in the driver seat and I’m just a passenger.” Over time, as life went on and challenges arose, we soon took on our own wants and desires and slipped back into the driver seat. My exhortation now is that we need to make sure that God is directing our life completely.
Here is the truth that we need to allow to sink deep into our minds and hearts: God is working out the plan for our life. All we need to do is allow Him to do so without getting in the way. We must patiently wait for Him to give us clear direction. We must restrain from running out ahead. God is working out all of the angles and is preparing all of the details for what we need. He is putting all of the pieces of the puzzle together. He is working things out for us even as we sleep! All we have to do is wait for Him to open the door for us, and then we just walk through.
You would think that it would easy to do nothing and to wait for God to move, but it turns out that this is the most challenging thing for us especially when we are pressured from the people of the world around us and from our old self and old way of thinking. We need to “Let go and let God!” (This is another saying that we most likely used as young Christians.)
Here’s the irony:
The unbelievers in the world work hard at getting what they want, with stress and anxiety destroying their health, and when they finally get it they are disappointed, upset, and confused. Many times they have to lie to themselves and convince themselves that they are happy with what they have worked so hard for, but deep down they know that it’s a disappointment.
The child of God rests peacefully in the guidance of their heavenly Father, waiting for Him to establish their path and direct their life, working only for what their immediate needs are and entrusting the future to Him, and as time goes on they find that they get what they really need (as only God knows best) and they are satisfied and content.
Our focus should be on the promise of heaven and eternal life, storing up riches for heaven, and looking towards the things that make us rich towards God and not rich in this life. It is the desire for riches in this life that ensnares us to shift our focus to this world and to pursue our worldly desires to our own hurt.
“Of course, there is great gain in godliness combined with contentment; for we brought nothing into the world, so that we can take nothing out of it; but if we have food and clothing, we will be content with these. But those who want to be rich fall into temptation and are trapped by many senseless and harmful desires that plunge people into ruin and destruction. For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, and in their eagerness to be rich some have wandered away from the faith and pierced themselves with many pains.” 1 Timothy 6: 6-10
Let us be content with our circumstances. Let us allow God to direct our life as we patiently wait for Him to open doors for our future, trusting that He knows what is best for us. Let us be focused on the next eternal life, and not on this temporary life here on earth. Resist the stress and anxiety that the world is trying to push onto us, suggesting that we launch out on our own to pursue our own wants and desires. God is good and as we look to Him we will see that our labors will not be in vain, but He will give to us what we really need for both this life and for the next.
“But as for you, man of God, shun all this; pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, endurance, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith; take hold of the eternal life, to which you were called and for which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses. In the presence of God, who gives life to all things, and of Christ Jesus, who in his testimony before Pontius Pilate made the good confession, I charge you to keep the commandment without spot or blame until the manifestation of our Lord Jesus Christ, which he will bring about at the right time—he who is the blessed and only Sovereign, the King of kings and Lord of lords. It is he alone who has immortality and dwells in unapproachable light, whom no one has ever seen or can see; to him be honor and eternal dominion. Amen.” 1 Timothy 6: 11-16
Remember also that God will supply our needs for this life also, food and clothing, so we don’t need to be anxious for these things, but should seek first the things pertaining to the Kingdom of God.
“And do not seek what you should eat or what you should drink, nor have an anxious mind. For all these things the nations of the world seek after, and your Father knows that you need these things. But seek the kingdom of God, and all these things shall be added to you.” Luke 12: 29-31