“No longer will you need the sun to shine by day, nor the moon to give its light by night, for the Lord your God will be your everlasting light, and your God will be your glory.”
This season of life has been filled with anxiety for the unknown and undone. I’m halfway through college, burdened with debt, working a part-time job, and planning a wedding. There are times when I’m consumed with fear over one of those tasks, and there are times when the pressures of life hit me like a tidal wave. I have an acute strength for worrying. The slightest change of plan can seem to irrevocably shift the course of my life, in a span of five seconds. I’m becoming an adult in an Instagram culture, where every image and post that I see sends the message that everyone else is more successful, happy, wealthy, secure, polished than me. This is the era of the social media model, when a woman with decent photography skills can make thousands of dollars for every like on a painstakingly posed picture. This is the era of the Etsy shop owner, when a mom with Adobe Photoshop can create journals, prints, and accessories from the comfort of her toddler-laden home. This is the era of the #girlboss, when women are encouraged to climb the corporate ladder and shatter the glass ceiling in the pursuit of recognition and respect.
None of these pursuits are inherently bad. None of these women are necessarily wrong or behaving in an unbiblical manner. The problem lies in the pressure to compete, the pressure to prove yourself or establish security for yourself based on your own accolades and skill set.
“But on the judgment day, fire will reveal what kind of work each builder has done. The fire will show if a person’s work has any value.”
1 Corinthians 3:13
The word of 2016 seemed to be HUSTLE. Delayed gratification is all but nonexistent as people buzz like bees to meet their goals in the quickest manner possible. Working hard certainly isn’t wrong, but Paul poses a counter-cultural perspective in 1 Corinthians 3. The problem with hustling isn’t the hustling itself, but the motivation behind it. Oftentimes, I find myself hustling because I’m filled with fear at the double-digit number in my checking account. College students around me lose sleep over assignments that they have two hours to do because their day was filled with class, work, sorority meetings, and Bible studies. The pressure to build your resume as a college student is high. The pressure to make connections that will potentially help you in your career field is high. The pressure to raise children who make the world a better place all while being incredibly photogenic and accomplished is high. Pressure, pressure, pressure, all for fairly temporal goals. The Bible encourages hard work for an entirely different reason:
All for the glory of God.
Too often, the motivation for working yourself to the bone is to build your own security instead of trusting God to secure you. When you begin to believe that your efforts are your safety net and provision, you’ve launched yourself out of the Father’s hands and into your own flimsy butterfly net. We hustle to earn money for a bigger house, more clothes, and less anxiety all while forgetting that the house will crumble, the clothes will be donated, and the anxiety will stay unless we get right with the heart of Jesus. Jesus denied earthly comforts for the sake of heavenly rewards, and his confidence rested in God alone. Jesus was less concerned about the hustle, and more concerned about the eternal. You don’t see Jesus worrying about whether people would show up to hear his sermons. Open scripture, and you’ll see a man who did what his Father asked of him, each and every day. Jesus didn’t work tirelessly to gain followers and establish himself in the community. He worked tirelessly to represent his Father in every move, big or small. He put more thought into his responses than into his next preaching location. Jesus was concerned with the responsibilities directly in front of him, and trusted God to lead him to the next chapter and season of ministry.
“The master was full of praise. ‘Well done, my good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in handling this small amount, so now I will give you many more responsibilities. Let’s celebrate together!’ “
We too, are meant to handle what’s directly in front of us before looking five years into the future. If your only task for today is to love your spouse well, then the Lord will give you more opportunities to love them as He does. If your only task for today is to see the people that Jesus sees, then your slightly awkward conversation in the dining hall may plant a Gospel seed in a stranger’s life. If your task for today is to write a blog post that gives glory to God above men, then He will bring readers to your page. In the picture above from my time as a camp counselor this summer, my only tasks were to serve and love. I served my head counselor by blowing up kiddie pools for an hour. I loved babies who most likely don’t remember me now, six months after camp. If God can trust us with today’s blessings and opportunities, then greater things will come to us. We serve a Father who longs to give his children good gifts, but He can only give to those whose hands are open to Him. God wants us to trust HIS provision more than our own because His perspective is always eternal. He knows what tomorrow holds, and He knows what guides our motives from our past.
“In your strength I can crush an army; with my God I can scale any wall.”
2 Samuel 22:30
If we work by the Spirit’s strength rather than our own, we can accomplish great things for God’s glory. Not for our fame, finances, or security, but for GOD’S GLORY. Working by the Spirit requires total surrender to God’s will above your own, total surrender of your own strengths and comfort so God can shine through your weaknesses and humility. When you glorify the Lord, joy is found. When you direct praise back to Christ, your strength will be renewed. When you give your time, energy, and resources to the Father, you’re laying bricks in heaven’s walls.
As the holidays wind to a close, and your normal schedule resumes, leave with these promises from the Father. Consecrate your hustle to the Lord, and remember where your worth is found: not in your accomplishments, but in your creation.
“I pray that from his glorious, unlimited resources he will empower you with inner strength through his Spirit.”
“And this righteousness will bring peace. Yes, it will bring quietness and confidence forever. My people will live in safety, quietly at home. They will be at rest. Even if the forest should be destroyed and the city torn down, the Lord will greatly bless his people. Wherever they plant seed, bountiful crops will spring up. Their cattle and donkeys will graze freely.”