Many years ago when I was in school, I picked up on the fact that a lot of teachers didn’t know what to do with all the class time available. Their solution was to give us “busy work.”
“Busy work” is stuff that has no point other than keeping the class busy and quiet. Usually it involved cutting and pasting pieces of paper, word searches, dot-to-dot worksheets, or other mindless and pointless activities.
This sort of thing always annoyed me. Why not just let me go home if we’re just going to waste time at school? I could be wasting time in much more entertaining ways at home!
I was amazed at how much busy work I was even given in college! This stuff had no point and it had no bearing on our grade; it was merely given to keep us busy.
Then I got a job. I remember working as a janitor for many years and realizing the amount of busy work we did just to make it look like were doing stuff. How many hours were wasted looking busy rather than actually being productive?
Unfortunately, a lot of spiritual work can feel like busy work too.
There are so many problems in the world; how is my little effort going to make any difference? As we observe the violence in Syria and the needs of the people there, it feels like prayer isn’t changing anything, like our little efforts can’t possibly help. When your work seems pointless, the energy to do it runs out quicker.
Spiritual work can’t accurately be measured for effectiveness. When you work, you at least get paid. When you’re in school, you get grades. But doing spiritual things for people—prayer, teaching the Bible, encouraging, etc.—can’t be measured.
Spiritual growth takes forever. You can give yourself in helping someone, pouring your heart and soul into them, and it might be years before you see any discernible growth in them, or you, for that matter! Often, when we overcome one problem, six more pop up to take its place! How exhausting!
Spiritual things are often resisted by people. As Jesus told Nicodemus, “Men love the darkness rather than the light.” There are many stories of missionaries who gave their lives for people groups and never saw any fruit whatsoever for their labor.
It gets old. It gets tiresome. It gets frustrating. After a while you feel like you’re just wasting time.
The Apostle Paul understood these things, probably more than any of us do. Paul continually tells people to keep laboring, keep working, keep going, your work is not in vain in the Lord.
“Let us not be weary in well doing: for in due season we shall reap, if we faint not” (Galatians 6:9).
Working for the Lord Jesus Christ does not always have an immediate reward, fruit, or payoff. Sometimes the fruit takes years to develop. And sometimes the reward doesn’t come until the life to come. But either way, Paul says to keep going; there will be fruit. It will be worth it.
Paul gives this encouragement in Romans 12:11, “Not lagging behind in diligence, fervent in spirit, serving the Lord.” “Not lagging behind” means not letting your energy slack. “Fervent in spirit” means to have a boiling energy about you. Keep going! Keep working! The Lord is watching and He is faithful to reward our service.
What better feeling than to hear our Savior say in that day, “Well done, good and faithful servant” (Matthew 15:21-23).
Serve the Lord. There is no better thing you can possibly do with your time.
As we consider our work for the Lord, let’s remember to pray for strength, energy, and motivation to help those around us see the love of Christ. Pray for the Church, the Body of Christ, that the many members of the one Body can edify and encourage each other to keep fighting the fight of faith. Pray for those in places of persecution and violence that their hope in Christ can carry them through. Pray for opportunity and availability to meet the needs of those around us whether we see any fruit or not.