While ordering my overpriced coffee this Saturday morning, the person taking my order unwittingly asked me a poignant question: “What are you up to today? Just hanging out?” On the way in, I’d observed a handful of people sitting outside and within the shop, staring off, doing exactly that: just hanging out. Those lazy people. How dare they enjoy their weekend!
My response was that I planned on getting work done — namely, writing in some form — and I said this with the image of those people spacing out in the back of my mind. I didn’t want to be like them; I have stuff to do!
I’ve convinced myself that my work is very important. I recognize the urgency of now, the need to accomplish, not so that I might get something in return, but so I might make some impression on this world or on the people around me before I’m done here on earth. And this is all noble stuff, one might agree. One might call me a driven, determined-type, I guess.
After reading today, however, I concluded that my comparison between myself and the idle people is quite dangerous. Apart from the obviously unfounded judgment I passed on those hapless people upon walking in, I discovered I have a false idol: the work of my hands.
I confess that the more tense I get, the suckier my writing becomes. If I relax, the natural flow of speech and thought blend together and form actually comprehensible prose. This is fleshly liberty, fleshly freedom, to know there’s nothing to worry about. Oxygen from breathing helps as well.
The tension I’m alluding to comes from focusing on that work of my hands. This is not a new human problem — it’s been happening since the beginning. I think all men and many women have this issue: they find their significance in the deeds and accomplishments they’ve managed to perform in a given day. And this is a false idol.
God condemns the “worship of the work of your hands” at the end of Micah — specifically, the Lord is referring to the false gods introduced by surrounding nations that began permeating Israel’s traditions. The vast majority of Israel and Judah’s kings had a serious problem with this.
But really, the idol is the satisfaction of worshiping a hand-made work, possibly representing something greater than yourself, that removes due praise unto God. For Israel and Judah, which at the time were supposed to be operating as theocracies, it created fragmented allegiances and bore corruption under the leadership. For us today, it eliminates our “need” for God, and shatters real fellowship with God.
Do you feel disconnected with God? Is it possible that your work and your pride in it burden you, that your intent is not to serve God, but to serve yourself? The start of 2 Corinthians 3 asks a question we should always ask ourselves: “Do we begin again to commend ourselves?”
If this is a struggle, know that there is liberty in Christ. We can be free of this, if we just learn to relax and let the Spirit take over. On the surface, we must stop comparing our work with others’, because God has set aside a work specifically for your purpose. So don’t stress it! Do your work, and let God take care of the results. He has already manifested Himself in you; how much more will He work through you as you depend on His Spirit!