Beloved, are you stuck in the rut today of trying to earn everything from the Lord? If so, I believe the Lord will use this word about “Too many employees, not enough sons” to set you free today.
So … are you stuck in a rut of trying to earn everything from the Lord?
I mean this question seriously. I am really asking you to examine yourself to see if you're slaving away at being who you are, doing what you do, and receiving what you need from the Lord–slaving away trying to earn everything; trying to deserve everything.
Because if you are stuck in that rut, that rut is going nowhere. And neither are you, if you don't get out of that rut.
Here's a key: Only employees have to earn everything.
When you get up and go to work every day, you are going to your job because you're earning money. You do the best work you can; you arrive early; you stay late–all so you can get favor with your boss or bosses, so you can earn more money. You work overtime and extra hours so you can earn more money. Right? That's how the world works.
But too many of us in the Kingdom have a messed-up paradigm. We have an earning complex, not a receiving complex.
The fact is that you can't earn from the Lord. You can comply with His principles and receive His blessings–a system also known as obedience and reward. And of course we should all do our work heartily, for the Bible says:
“Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you are going” (Ecclesiastes 9:10).
“Bondservants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh, not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers, but in sincerity of heart, fearing God.
And whatever you do, do it heartily, as to the Lord and not to men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the reward of the inheritance; for you serve the Lord Christ. But he who does wrong will be repaid for what he has done, and there is no partiality” (Colossians 3:22-25).
But there is a big difference between doing things (doing your work and doing everything else) as is pleasing to the Lord–doing everything with all your might–VERSUS trying to earn everything.
The difference is a heart issue.
And it's a heart issue I struggle with, frankly.
When you try to do everything as is pleasing to the Lord, you're doing so to honor the Lord. You're working and serving Him because you love Him so much.
It's just the same way you would cook your spouse a lovely, candlelit dinner when they've had a hard day at work. Or, better yet, when you pay for your spouse to have a nice, long massage at a local spa when they're stressed.
Wives, it's also similar to picking up your husband's dirty socks and underwear off the floor without saying anything to him about it.
Hey, if that's you, then I bet the reason you didn't say anything is because you decided to let it pass–just this once–without again reminding him to please put his dirty clothes in the hamper. Right? And you decided to let it pass because you love him, and you decided to just bless him by picking up his clothes without saying anything–even if he didn't notice–as a silent demonstration of your love.
Husbands, “doing something just out of love” would also be like going out and weeding the landscaping around your house without saying anything to your wife about it. (This is just an example here, but if you want some husband points, I tell you this will work.)
In this situation …
Hey, your wife knows those weeds were there. She's just too tired and overwhelmed to do anything about it–and frankly, she doesn't want to get all hot and sweaty and uncomfortable out there digging in the dirt. She'd rather pay a landscaper to come and do the work.
But you, brothers, in your lovely love for wife, when you got up at daybreak and weeded the landscaping just to show your love–YOU did something with all your might purely out of love.
See? Work still gets done when our hearts are right. Work gets done even when we aren't trying to earn everything.
So why are we so all-fired determined that we have to earn everything from God?
- “If I work hard enough, I won't lose this dream that God gave me–the one that looks too good to be true.”
- “If I pray hard enough, God will hear and answer. But I have to really press into prayer; a simple, calm prayer won't reach the heart of God.”
- “I don't deserve to be paid that much. I need to apply for a different job that would pay me less, because there's no way they'd hire me for this high-paying position–even though I'm qualified! That's too much money for me to earn.”
Seriously, friends. Striving and earning is an epidemic in the Body of Christ.
I struggle with this too; I'm preaching to myself as well as to you. For example, in this ministry, over the years I have had to battle ferociously against the mindsets of:
- “If I work hard enough, God will provide for our needs at the end of the month.”
- “If I don't go to the office every day, my team may not respect me since it will look like I'm not working hard enough.”
- “If I produce enough outward-facing material (as opposed to spending more time in prayer or study), people may not want to partner with the ministry because they'll think I'm sitting around doing nothing.”
EARN EARN EARN EARN EARN. WORK WORK WORK, STRIVE STRIVE STRIVE.
Umm hmmm. I believe you know exactly what I'm talking about
Here's the problem: We have too many people trying to be God's employees, and not enough people just being His sons and daughters.
The thing is that God doesn't have any employees–but employee status is exactly how we tend to treat ourselves. (“If I just work hard enough, I can earn this or that.”) That's what EMPLOYEES do who work for secular companies.
But if you have given your life to Jesus Christ, YOU are not an employee.
YOU are God's child. You are God's son or daughter. And as such, you do not have to earn everything–or anything. In fact, earning from the Lord isn't even possible. God does hand out rewards, surprises, and presents/gifts, but He does not hand out paychecks.
Oh, yes. It's true. He'll provide for your every need, but His provision is due to the undeserved favor He has assigned to you because you are in Christ Jesus.
Even if you're in ministry and God sends your literal paycheck every month, your paycheck is still simply His provision. He's providing for you because He loves you, and because He blesses you for your obedience.
But you didn't earn it.
You didn't get your paycheck by striving.
You received it by grace–the same grace by which you are saved.
Because He's a good, good Father …
… A good, good Father who loves you.
God the Father, Jesus His only begotten Son, and His wonderful Holy Spirit LOVE YOU.
They love you with an everlasting love. With great mercies, our God has borne you all the days of your life. And ALL of your provision–every single bit–comes because He loves you; because He promised; and because you have entered His system of promotion and reward through your obedience.
But none of it came from trying to be good enough.
None of it came from working hard enough.
None of it came from the work of your own hands, even though God does want you to labor faithfully and diligently with your hands. Work is a blessing from the Lord, and the ability to work is something to be enjoyed.
So where do God's blessings come from? They come from your place of SONSHIP.
He'll bless you with more as you learn to obey Him more, it's true. But, that's because He can trust you more and your character can handle more–not because you earned it.
The difference is subtle. It's all about heart motive, and it's all about identity. It's about just receiving from the Lord instead of trying to earn everything from Him.
And changing this one thing–your heart motive and the behaviors that go with it–will make all the difference in the world.
What would you do today if you were freed from the performance-based burden of trying to earn everything? How would your worship and prayer look different? How would your resting time look different if you weren't trying to “pull your weight” all the time?
Again, I'm preaching to myself here too. I have struggled with this for many years, and the Lord is still (in His mercy) burning it off me.
But beloved, we have to examine ourselves in light of these things.
We have to work out our own salvation with fear and trembling–which means we have to pull the exterior manifestation of God's salvation by grace into visible manifestation in our habits, mindsets, words, and ideas on the outside.
As it says in Philippians 2:12-13:
“Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure.”
Whaaaa? What was that?
Did that verse just say that it is GOD who does the work in you? Why yes, I believe it did.
So even though it says to “work out your own salvation with fear and trembling,” this verse tells us that it is GOD who is actually doing the work inside you. Your “working out of your own salvation with fear and trembling” simply describes your cooperation with the work of the Spirit of God who dwells in you.
You know, that same Holy Spirit who was given to you by grace when you got born again.
The same Holy Spirit that you didn't earn; couldn't earn; and never will earn. He was given to you as a free gift, purchased for you by the blood of Jesus Christ, who died for you on the cross of Calvary.
And beloved, everything else comes to you the same way: by grace–and by the blood of Jesus.
Yes, we work diligently, as to the Lord and not as to men–but we do it because we love Him. We obey His commandments also because we love Him. John 14:21 tells us this specifically:
“He who has My commandments and keeps them, it is he who loves Me. And he who loves Me will be loved by My Father, and I will love him and manifest Myself to him.”
Obeying God comes automatically when we love Him. We are free from sin; we never have to sin at all if we don't want to. We can just always stay with God in love, and all our words and deeds and motives can reflect that.
But oh, beloved, too many of us are busy trying to be God's employees instead of reveling in the sonship Jesus purchased for us on the cross.
And God's not hiring.
He's recruiting, yes; He wants all those who don't love Him yet to come to the knowledge of the truth. He's calling, yes; He wants all of us to help Him with His passion project, putting our hands to the plow of the Gospel work.
But all of these are roles for sons and daughters. He doesn't have any roles open, anywhere, for employees. Even if you receive a paycheck for doing the work of the ministry, as the Bible prescribes you should, it's still only because He's providing for you–not because you worked hard enough to earn His provision.
I pray the Lord would deliver us all from auditioning for employee roles today, and would help us enjoy the goodness and graciousness of our permanent and unbreakable role of sons and daughters of the King.
Does this message speak to your heart today? If so, please leave a comment below!