Study A: Does work matter more than God?
If someone asks you at a social gathering what you do, do you answer with your job title? I know I usually do! Are our identities wrapped up in our activity and accomplishments? In short, have we made ‘work’ our God? Tim Chester suggests, ‘We have made work an idol for workers, offering salvation (identity and fulfilment) through work.’ Whilst idols never satisfy, he reveals that the secret is to turn away from the ‘project of Self’ and turn back to God (repent).
What creates stress is the feeling that we cannot meet the expectations of others or of God. But Jesus offers us rest from the burden of self-justification – we are accepted by God. This is where we find meaning and value. For the following meditation, you may like to jot your thoughts and ideas down as you go along, to refer to during the closing time of prayer.
Meditation on Psalms 130 and 131
Read Psalm 130 v1-4
This is the psalm of a self-confessed sinner crying out for mercy. Draw up a mental record of your ‘wrongs’ over the last day, week, year. This record means that you could never stand before God. So treasure God’s promise in verse 4.
Read Psalm 130 v5-6
What is the answer to busyness? To wait on the Lord and put our hope in his Word. Think of all the ways you are busy trying to prove yourself or establish your identity. Think of the times you are busy trying to impress others. Let’s stop our frenetic activity and wait on the Lord.
Read Psalm 130 v7-8
God’s love never runs out and his salvation is wholly adequate. Every act of self-justification is a denial that with the Lord there is full redemption. When do you act as if God’s love will fail if we are not busy proving ourselves worthy? Unfailing love and full redemption set us free from self-justifying busyness.
Read Psalm 131
This is a ‘psalm of David.’ Think of everything you know about David. Was it a quiet life? Did he retreat from the world? Was it problem-free? This is a still and quiet heart in the midst of a fraught and busy life.
Re-read Psalm 131 v1
Think of the opposite of Verse One: ‘My heart wants to be valued. I’m looking for recognition. I’m concerned to be great and do wonderful things.’ Our biggest problem is proud self-will. Are you quiet inside? Is Psalm 131 your experience too? If your answer is “No”, what is the “noise” going on inside you? Where does it come from? Where do you get busy and pre-occupied? Why do you lose your composure? When do you get worried, wearied, irritable or hopeless? How can you regain composure?
Re-read Psalm 131 v2
Imagine a nursing child hungry for its mother’s milk. She is grouchy, irritable, restless until she can suckle. If you try to hold her, she wriggles, cries and squirms. But David is like a weaned child who is no longer restless. He has weaned himself off the noises of his heart. He has shushed quiet the desire to justify himself; to control his life; to achieve glory.
Re-read Psalm 131 v3
This is the secret of a still heart. Often we can do ‘for ever – we have hope that God will save us on the final day. But what about ‘now?’ What about tomorrow in your home or workplace? What about the next time you want to prove yourself? What about when you face the next deadline? What about when you feel you must make it up to God? Or when someone questions your commitment?
Identify now the truths you will cling to in those moments.
Follow Up Prayer
Praise God that we are justified by grace and not by works; for everything this reminds us about what He has done for us.Take time to confess in the stillness of your heart when you are guilty of self-justification. Thank God for where we can find our true identity and value. Ask Him to help you to have a still heart at all times in all circumstances. Bring Him your current struggles and lay them at the foot of his throne. MS