Workaholism is a badge of courage that many wear. Often, we work hard just to show others how hard we work. Many people get their strokes from proving just how “devoted” that they are to their jobs. Others work so hard because of outside pressure that they feel from others. Some blessed individuals genuinely love their jobs to the point that their work is not “work” to them. Still others may drive themselves to the point of exhaustion because they don’t want to have to deal with the stress of a difficult marriage or a broken family.
But the question I want to deal with today is: “Does Jesus want you to burn out for Him?” Is He interested in you neglecting your health, restful sleep, a balanced diet, quality time with family and friends just so that you can serve Him without reservation?
Certainly, there are examples in Scripture of hard work. The apostle Paul himself wrote: “I worked harder than all of them–yet not I, but it was the grace of God working in me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). Paul worked incredibly hard but it was Christ in him that enabled him to do so.
Working as unto the Lord is a God-honoring, Christ-exalting habit. Yet, I DO NOT BELIEVE THAT GOD INTENDS FOR US TO KILL OURSELVES WITH WORK BY TRYING TO DO THINGS THAT ONLY HE CAN ACCOMPLISH. The parable of the growing seed expresses the point I’m trying to make:
26And (Jesus) said, “The kingdom of God is as if a man should scatter seed on the ground. 27He sleeps and rises night and day, and the seed sprouts and grows; he knows not how. 28The earth produces by itself, first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear…” Mark 4:26-28
On Sunday night I preached this parable from the book of Mark to remind us of what our responsibilities are as children of the Kingdom. Here, Jesus compares the way of the Kingdom to a farmer. The farmer has a specific duty—to scatter seed on the ground. He didn’t create the seed. He merely took the seed and scattered it on the ground.
The seed is the good news of the Kingdom. The way into the Kingdom is through trusting in Jesus and what He has done for us on the Cross and not through trusting in ourselves and in our own inherent goodness to get us into the Kingdom. The gospel is literally the Good News about what Jesus has done!
You will notice next in the parable that the farmer does not worry about the seed. He doesn’t dig it up to see what is happening underground. He’s not concerned about what he can or cannot see about the seed’s growth. He doesn’t lose sleep or miss meals because he is fretting over the progress of the seed or upon his responsibility to make sure it grows. No, he scatters the seed, and then he goes home and goes to sleep. He has done his job. He fulfilled his responsibilities, and then he rested.
He rested and waited. He doesn’t HAVE to know how the seed sprouts and grows, but the seed DOES sprout and grow. It is the EARTH that produces the growth by itself. The earth has the nutrients and the moisture needed to cause new life from the seed.
GOD represents the EARTH. God is the One who has all of the resources needed to insure that new life happens. 1 Peter 1:3 says, “according to his great mercy, (God) has caused us to be born again.” God is the One who creates new life in lost people. Like the earth that contains all of the nutrition needed for the seed to sprout and grow, God has all of the resources, controls all of the circumstances in our lives (even our frustrations & failures) and uses them in such a way that in His way and in His timing new life is produced.
Not only is God in charge of the new life, but He is also in control of ALL of the growth that occurs—“first the blade, then the ear, then the full grain in the ear.” Here, you see a progression of maturity, and God is the One who sovereignly controls it all.
That is why they farmer is not worried. He trusts God (the earth) to produce the growth. All the farmer has to concern himself with is spreading the seed. Our concern is in spreading the seed of the gospel, (working diligently in what we can control). Then we must TRUST God with the results of new life and growth.