by Hugh Whelchel
[Consider the passage in] the book of Proverbs in the comparison between the ant and the sluggard (Prov 6:6-11). In this passage, we are encouraged to avoid the path of the sluggard and instead study the ways of the ant. The ant does the small things that are easy for him to do day after day.
Another similar principle found in the scriptures is the idea of sowing and reaping (Gal 6:7-8; Prov 11:18; 2 Cor 9:6; Luke 19:20-21; 1 Cor 3:6-9)
This biblical standard can be summarized in three simple statements:
- You reap what you sow
- You reap more than you sow
- You reap much later than you sow
The farmer doesn’t sow one day and expect to reap a harvest the next. He must continue to work the land throughout the cultivation process before he sees the fruits of his labor.
Running Life’s Long-Distance Race
Both the apostle Paul and the author of the book of Hebrews use the idea of a race as a metaphor for the Christian life (Act 20:23-24; 1 Cor 9:23-25; 2 Tim 4:7; Heb 12:1-3). The race we run is not a sprint but a marathon.
We must get up every morning, lace up our sneakers, and run the best we can. Some days the wind is at our back and everything seems easy. Other days, the wind is in our face, and it seems like our entire run is uphill.
Regardless, we are called to run the race every day—to do the work that God has set before us no matter how simple, mundane, or commonplace it may seem. (Eph 2:10)
As any athlete in training will tell you, the key to persistence, or what the Bible calls faithfulness, is driven by motivation.
We work not to prove ourselves to God or attempt to earn our salvation. Our motivation to obey God is out of love for him and in gratitude for what he has done for us in Jesus Christ. As Martyn Lloyd-Jones once wrote:
Love is not just a sentiment. Love is a great controlling passion, and it always expresses itself in terms of obedience.
Faithfulness is the key to living the Christian life, and nowhere is that more important than in the work we do. As Oswald Chambers writes in his devotional My Utmost for His Highest:
…if I obey Jesus Christ in the seemingly random circumstances of life, they become pinholes through which I see the face of God.
Through slow, faithful, daily acts of obedience and by God’s grace—this is the way we are transformed into the likeness of Christ and the way we transform the culture around us.
Lord, help me to see the daily details as Your details. Help me to be faithful in the small things, including the simple and mundane, and remind me that obedience brings me closer to you every day. Amen.
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CLS works with the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (IFWE) to provide thoughtful and inspiring devotionals to CLS members. IFWE is a non-profit, 501(c)(3) Christian research organization committed to promoting biblical and economic principles that help individuals find fulfillment in their work and contribute to a free and flourishing society.
Hugh Whelchel is Executive Director of the Institute for Faith, Work & Economics (www.tifwe.org) and author of How Then Should We Work?: Rediscovering the Biblical Doctrine of Work.