This Is the Reason You Have Nothing to Show for All of Your Hard Work

You work hard, right?

Of course you do. You work forty, fifty, maybe sixty hours per week. Then you come home and do housework. You wrestle the kids. You do homework. You bathe and feed them. But when you actually have a moment to step back and just breathe it’s easy to get frustrated.

Vinoth Chandar (CC)

You feel like you're swimming against the current, and no matter how hard you try you can’t gain any ground.

Sound familiar?

There’s a good reason for this feeling. Something that, even if understood intellectually, is hard to follow in practice thanks to our fickle, demanding, needy flesh.

How to Be Less Productive

God was angry.

The Jewish remnant had laid the foundation of the new temple, but they stopped there at the threat of their enemies. They said “the time has not yet come” to rebuild the temple (Hag. 1:2).

So what did they do instead? They worked hard on improving their own homes complete with artisinal custom paneling. The spent time working in the fields sowing and sowing and sowing. But their yield was paltry in proportion to the work they did.

God wasn’t pleased with the remnant's priorities so he frustrated their efforts. He withheld rain so the crops wouldn’t grow. He made sure that whatever they did, they struggled to do it. And His words to the Hebrews through the prophet Haggai might just as well be spoken to you and me today:

“You expected much, but see, it turned out to be little. What you brought home, I blew away. Why?” declares the Lord Almighty. “Because of my house, which remains a ruin, while each of you is busy with your own house." Haggai 1:9

Judah’s priorities were all mixed up. She worked so hard to provide for herself that she neglected the house of the LORD. Classic mistake. And one we still make today.

The Paradox of Physical Needs

Our temples lie unbuilt too. Sure we’ve got the foundation in place. We may have even started work on the frame, but it remains unbuilt.

Temples? What temples?

When you bowed your knee and submitted your life to Christ—when you were born again—the Spirit of Truth entered your body. Christ is the foundation. Your body is the temple:

Do you not know that your bodies are temples of the Holy Spirit, who is in you, whom you have received from God? 1 Corinthians 6:19a

But unfortunately many of us get the foundation in place and leave it at that. We let the worries or desires of this world distract us from building up our spiritual selves. We work ourselves to death for wealth, for beautiful houses. We spend hours in front of the mirror combing, straightening, shaving, applying makeup. Consider what Paul had to say to the Romans:

Put on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make no provision for the flesh, to fulfill its lusts. 13:14 (NKJV)

When you neglect to pray, when you neglect to read God's Word, to fast, to forgive, to attend church, the lusts of the flesh take over. But when you make building your temple a priority, God will provide you what you need:

Seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. Matthew 6:33

God loves to bless his children, but he’s not going to do it when your priorities are mixed up. Because if He did, those blessings would turn into curses. This is the paradox of physical needs. The more you focus on the flesh, the less satisfied you will be.

When you seek to fill your belly, when you seek beauty, or when you seek riches you attempt to honor only yourself; you give in to the lusts of the flesh.

But when you seek righteousness, and when you build up the temple of God, you do so for His glory. What more could you ask for?

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