“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.” (Ps. 127:1–2)
In this Psalm, Solomon reminds us of the need to depend on God, as we labor and as we rest.
In verse 1, we are invited to depend on the Lord in our working and in our watching.
We read of the danger of overconfidence. Solomon himself serves as a warning to us. He ruined the kingdom through his pride, self-reliance, and rebellion.
- Unless the Lord add to the church, we evangelize in vain
- Unless the Lord establish the church, we plant in vain
- Unless the Lord teach the class, we prepare in vain
- Unless the Lord guide the ministry, we plan in vain
- Unless the Lord restore the family, we counsel in vain
- Unless the Lord bless the writing project, we write in vain
- Unless the Lord expand the organization, we market in vain
- Unless the Lord protect us on the mission field, we travel in vain
- Unless the Lord guard us in the urban centers, we secure ourselves vain
- Unless the Lord look after the church, we pastor in vain
An overconfident life is a disastrous life. Meaningful and significant work for the King involves dependence on his power, remembering the words of Jesus, “Apart from me, you can do nothing.” (John 15:5).
In verse 2, we are called to depend the Lord instead of worrying and overworking. We’re called to rest—physically and spiritually—in the Lord.
Some people play the sluggard: failing to work hard. That’s unacceptable. The problem here is being enslaved to one’s work, and working without a proper trust in the Lord, and a proper rhythm of work and rest.
We should remind ourselves of at least three truths when they go to bed: 1) we aren’t God; 2) we need God; and 3) we are loved by God. “He gives sleep to the one he loves.”
Church planters must work hard. Most of them I know, do. Regularly in my interactions with church planters I hear, “This work is hard!” Most church planters I know need to be exhorted to rest more and work wiser.
We work hard because Christ is worthy. And we can rest because he is sovereign. There are many reasons why we don’t rest well and why we’re prone to overworking.
Today we’re going to discuss these things with Bob Thune.
You can listen to this podcast episode here.