Deuteronomy 12:18 You are to rejoice before the Lord your God in everything you put your hand to.
I think this is one of the most delightful commands in the whole Bible! In a sense it is a reversal of the curse of Eden: “Cursed is the ground because of you: through painful toil you will eat of it all the days of your life.” (Genesis 3:17) God is here telling us to delight in all our work! Paul echoes this, in a sense, to everyone and then specifically to slaves, who might have every excuse not to enjoy their work. “Whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17) “Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart, as working for the Lord, not for men.” (Colossians 3:23) The devil is doing all he can to tear down this “work ethic,” as it is called. Parents are misguidedly assigning chores to their children as punishment, teaching them that work is to be avoided. “Welfare” payments were conceived as a way to help those who had no other recourse, but they have grown into a massive subculture of avoiding work. Then in the recent lockdowns because of COVID, people were forbidden to work, and the economy was thoroughly trashed. Practically everyone has experienced the satisfaction of completing a job well done, but to have that in its fullness, there must be the risk of not doing it well. Again, parents who try to shield their children from all risk, of disappointment or anything else, are crippling them from ever having a fulfilling life. Risk for the sake of risk is a sad addiction, but no risk at all is hardly living. God created us in some ways to be like Him, (Genesis 1:27) and God gets satisfaction from a job well done. (Genesis 1:31) Through Moses here God is telling us to work and enjoy it!
Growing up in a missionary family I never developed a strong connection between work and money, but I certainly saw the connection between work and satisfaction. Pride of accomplishment was never kept from me, which of course also included the risk of failure. I was never good at sports, but it still felt good when, in physical education class, I was center in a football game and I managed not only to snap the ball accurately, I got one of the opposing players to trip over me and fall down! There were of course many other accomplishments of all sorts, and I discovered that there is indeed joy and pleasure in hard work, just as this verse says. As a pastor and teacher now, my “success” is largely dependent on how others respond to what I do, but I must still remember what Paul wrote to the Colossians and do it in Christ’s name, being thankful for the opportunity and giving Him the glory. That’s the key to a happy life!
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for enabling me to complete the first pass through all my pictures from the past year, pulling candidates for my photo show next month. That can be mind-numbing, but it feels good to have it done. Help me now work at narrowing it down to the 50 I can hang, so that they will be pictures that open people’s eyes to the beauty of Your creation and draw them to You. Thank You. Praise God!