I read a ‘tongue in cheek’ formula for success: Rise early, work late and strike oil.
When it comes to a work ethic we tend to navigate toward the fringes of balance. If we work hard we expect the blessing of success. “I earned it,” we say. After all, if you are not willing to work, you don’t get to eat! (II Thessalonians 3:10,11) Those good things in my life are there because of my effort.
There is a certain feeling of satisfaction in providing for yourself … of seeing the effort of your labor exchanged for the material necessities of life. But remember that “every good and perfect gift is from above …” James 1:17 Even your ability to provide for your family, to work hard, to manage your finances are all blessings from the Father.
But unlike the law of sowing and then reaping … of planting and then getting the harvest, there are times when what God gives us has nothing to do with our effort but totally with his love and grace. “The blessing of the Lord brings wealth, without painful toil for it,” wrote Solomon in Proverbs 10:22 NIV
There are blessings that didn’t originate in your work ethic, your skill set, your educational preparation. You weren’t smart enough to warrant them and you can take no credit for them. You’ve got an astonishingly loving and generous Father … that’s all.
So always be on the lookout for those gifts in your life that came from above. It may be a spouse that’s really too good to be true. It could be a child who grew to maturity in a way that makes you look far better than your parenting skills could have produced on their own.
Possibly a financial blessings comes into your life unexpected and undeserved or you’re singled out for an award you feel humbled by. Recognize these as serendipitous graces of God.
But while waiting for these unearned gifts, don’t be afraid of working diligently. The Apostle Paul gave a good perspective to this subject in Colossians 3:23, 24: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord.” (The word used here is ‘heartily’ not ‘hardly.’)
So watch for and anticipate God’s marvelous gifts of grace … but don’t do it leaning on your shovel.