God Approves Your Work - Ecclesiastes 9:7

Work with What You Have

His master said to him, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master.’ – Matthew 25:21 ESV

He also who had received the one talent came forward, saying, ‘Master, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you did not sow, and gathering where you scattered no seed, so I was afraid, and I went and hid your talent in the ground. Here you have what is yours.’ But his master answered him, ‘You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? … For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. And cast the worthless servant into the outer darkness. In that place there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.’ – Matthew 25:24-26, 29-30 ESV

In this crazy world of people telling you what you should do and how you should live and manipulating you out of your money, we sometimes want to throw in the towel and say that nothing matters. We can lose track of what’s important in our work when we think that how other people treat us or react to us impacts what we should be doing. Your work matters and you should be doing it to the best of your abilities, no matter what.

In the Parable of the Talents (Matthew 25:14-30), Jesus gives us an example of three people who were given things to be responsible for, as they had ability to do. The first two were faithful and worked hard, took risks, and, as a result, they had more to give back than what they started with. They are the good and faithful servants. The final servant protected what he had and gave back only what he’d been given. He was cast out as a disobedient servant.

There are four things we can pull from this parable. First, what we have has been given to us based on our ability. God isn’t going to ask you to be a brain surgeon and then not give you the intelligence to handle the job. We’re also not given everything equally. God gave out as He saw fit, not as would make sense to us. We need to accept what we have as a gift and a responsibility.

Second, we have to take risks and work hard. The first two servants invested the money and made more. Any type of investment, whether it be simply interested based loaning or market trading or business investing, all of these things take risk. There might be ups and downs, but we have to keep believing in the gifts and abilities we have and we have to keep working hard.

Third, staying as you are is an act of disobedience. Money is what is used in the parable as an example, but money isn’t the only things that we’ve been given to take care of and grow. We have many talents and responsibilities that we have to take care of and learn to improve at. It can be anything from taking care of our families to leadership abilities or business growth. Whatever it is that we have, we must use and improve or we are being bad stewards of our gifts.

Finally, the fourth thing we can learn is that God won’t always spell out in a step by step direction what we’re supposed to be doing. In the parable, the landowner gives these talents to the stewards because he is going away for a while. God never leaves us (Hebrews 13:5), of course, that’s not what the parable is saying. It’s saying that we are able to do what we need to do without constant guidance. Part of accepting the work that God has called us to do requires us to believe that we have everything we need to accomplish it, including the abilities to complete our work.

Ecclesiastes 9 talks about the toil that each one of us has before us to do. In verse 9 it says about this, “Go, eat your bread with joy, and drink your wine with a merry heart, for God has already approved what you do.” God wants us to work hard and what He’s given us. Don’t spend time worrying about your lot in life or the things that you wish you had or didn’t have to deal with. Pray about finding you “merry heart” in regard to what you’re doing and learn to enjoy the moment in your life as you work every day to be who He made you to be.

The Valleys Sing For Joy - Psalm 65:13

Purpose Is a Joy

The pastures of the wilderness overflow, the hills gird themselves with joy, the meadows clothe themselves with flocks, the valleys deck themselves with grain, they shout and sing together for joy. – Psalm 65:12-13 ESV

When I think about a picturesque view and see fields full of wildflowers and valleys full of crops, I don’t often think of joy as the emotion that I associate with it. However, when I stop and think about what these nature scenes represent, I can completely relate to the emotion of joy.

When a field is full of grain, whether it be in the middle of the season or full or ready to harvest plants, that field is living in to the utmost what God made it to be. These two verses show the earth allowing God to bring about good work and fulfilment out of them. They are achieving the things that they were created to achieve.

For me, I can relate to this in times when I’ve felt connected with what I’m doing. I’ve had moments when I knew that I was where I was supposed to be doing what I was supposed to do. These moments are so joy filled that it completely passes circumstances. Allowing God to fill my moments and direct my days means that He is directing my time and energy to fill up with the things that He uniquely created me to do. There is no greater joy than that!

As pleasant as these moments are, I hope to continue to grow in this awareness so that, like the scripture verse, I can put on joy (vs. 12) and I can join in the chorus of praise to God for His oversight and His blessings.

God Finds Joy in Doing Good - Jeremiah 32:41

God Finds Joy in Doing Good for Us

I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land. – Jeremiah 32:41 NLT

I will find joy doing good for them and will faithfully and wholeheartedly replant them in this land.

I love places in the scripture where we see the joy and love that God has for us. It’s so easy to get caught up in “being good” or theological truths and miss the personality that is behind it all. In Jeremiah 32:41 God tell us that he finds joy in doing good. Chastisement comes because He loves us (Proverbs 3:11-12) and wants us to understand how to be more like Him (Hebrews 12:6). What He finds joy in, though, is doing good for us.

Now that I have a daughter, I can relate to the Father/Children dynamic and a different way. I understood it before, but now I can feel and experience the parent role instead of just the child role. I love doing good things for my baby girl! I also love seeing the result of her learning to make the right choices. At 20 months old the looks like listening to mommy when I tell her not to eat the crayons (or all the other many things she tries to chew through). In the times when I’m having to discipline, I don’t feel the warm fuzzies, but I do feel good knowing I’m keeping her best in mind. Then, when I see her choose to make the right choice (starting to put the crayon in her mouth and stop before it gets there. Hey, it happened once…), I feel so good about having done the right thing for her. On top of that kind of feeling good, I love to give her things that she likes and are good for her. So much feeling good (assuming we all have had our nap… 😀 )

I can also take this and see how the Lord is doing good things for me. I would love to see that He gives me anything I want as soon as I want it, but that’s not truly giving me good things. He finds joy in making sure I’m getting the best possible things, including discipline. When something happens that I’m not excited about, I can still say, “Thank you Lord for this, because I know you find joy in giving me good things. I hope someday I can understand it more, but for now, I’ll just say thanks and know that I can trust you.”

That feels good!