Americans have traditionally valued a strong work ethic. We believe the harder we work, the greater our chances for success. But if unchecked, you can get carried away and you’ll end up devoting all your time to work and lose the balance that allows you to grow spiritually. Are you sacrificing healthy, family relationships, connections, friendships, and your walk with God so you can achieve more and advance in your profession? Perhaps you can relate to Solomon. When he became king of Israel, he asked God to grant him wisdom. Pleased at this request, God gave this young king honor, wealth, and a long life, in addition to wisdom.
Then Solomon started building the Temple. He built his palace and fortified his country against intruders. All of these projects were done on an enormous scale, even by today’s standards. In order to accomplish these tasks, Solomon sacrificed important relationships with his people, with his family, and with his God. He taxed his people heavily and required them to work hard on his building projects. He failed to teach his son how to use wisdom to rule the people. He also stopped listening to God and disobeyed him by marrying numerous pagan women and by worshipping their so-called gods.
It’s easy to lose yourself in work and achievements and to forget the source of your strength and success. Whenever anything in your priorities of life is placed above God, it’s time to stop and rethink just what your priorities need to be.
‘I really don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ said forty-two-year-old Tyrone to his counselor. ‘I’ve attained many of my personal and business goals. But I’m still breeding ulcers, trying to climb up the ladder. With all my success, I’m still bummed when someone else beats me to a big sale or a new account. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, but I kind of feel like an outsider when I’m with them. I’m often around people and have lots of friends. But I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t think they’re really enjoying me. I’m afraid my dark moods are distancing me from the ones I love. But I don’t know what to do about it.’
Tyrone looks and acts like the American Dream personified. By all outward appearances he’s succeeded in the areas of life that really matter in our society: family, friends, career, and finance. But like so many men, Tyrone’s warm smile and confident exterior mask a deep sadness and uncertainty. He often wonders what’s really worthwhile in life. Despite all the trophies he’s accumulated indicating he’s a winner, he always feels defeated.
Can you relate to Tyrone? The pursuit of the American Dream has left many feeling alone and angry, because prosperity can’t be measured by money or even family. Who does the Bible teach is prosperous or blessed? Only when you seek to find joy in your Creator and not in His creation, will your soul begin to find significance and true happiness. Stop and assess where you seek your joy.
What words would your friends or family use to describe you? Jesus referred to two brothers’James and John’as Sons of Thunder. Why? We’re given a glimpse of their fiery personalities in the Bible. After some people rejected them, James and John asked Jesus if they should call down fire from heaven to consume the village. Jesus rebuked them for their impulse to retaliate.
Yet that’s not the end of their story. Jesus worked in these brothers’ lives so that they became known for love and forgiveness.
Though the two brothers had once been ambitious for their own personal gain, they became ambitious to share God’s love with others. The brothers discovered that when you understand and experience God’s love, you are free to live and grow. And as you grow and share with others, you be used by God to touch the lives of many in need of God’s healing help.
Can you relate to the anger and selfish ambition of these men? If so, be encouraged by God’s work in their lives. He wants to do the same in you!