Enjoy work more—not less—to fight idolatry

“You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound.” (Psalm 4:7)

We’re in a series exploring four principles for enjoying our work without turning our jobs into idols. Last week we unpacked Principle #1: Insist that Jesus is better. Today we turn to Principle #2: Delight in your work freely and fully.

Now, I know that may seem oxymoronic. After all, if Jesus is better than my job, shouldn’t I try to love my work less, not more? I’d argue that’s impossible to do and foolish to try for two reasons. 

First, God created you to enjoy your work. Work was God’s first gift to humankind in the Garden of Eden (see Genesis 1:26-28) and one of the many gifts he has in store for us on the New Earth (see Isaiah 65:17-23). So, to try to love your work less is to fight against God’s design.

Second, the more you enjoy God’s gifts, the more you can appreciate the “betterness” of God. You see this idea all throughout the Psalms where joy in the Creator is frequently described in comparison to the joy the Psalmist found in some created thing. For example, “Better is one day in your courts than a thousand elsewhere” (Psalm 84:10). “Your love is better than life” (Psalm 63:3). "You have put more joy in my heart than they have when their grain and wine abound” (Psalm 4:7). 

“How shall we confess this meaningfully, if the grain and wine have never put any joy in our hearts whatsoever?” says pastor Joe Rigney. “To say that we desire nothing besides [God] is an empty compliment if it is literally true. It would be as if to say, ‘I desire nothing besides you because I've never desired anything at all.’ But surely what the Psalmist means is, ‘I have desired many things in my life, many things of earth. But compared to you they are nothing.’”

Now, this is not a license to self-indulgence and materialism—a nuance I will draw out more fully next week. But the general principle is clear: If you want to enjoy your work without making it an idol, the solution isn’t loving your work less, but more—freely and fully delighting in your God-given vocation in a God-honoring way so that you may more deeply and honestly appreciate the truth that Jesus is better. 

Jen Wilkin put it this way: “Find freedom in knowing that your human creativity is an echo intended to inspire worship of your Creator. And then, [work] freely to your heart’s delight.”

Amen! With that in mind, ask the Lord for the gift of delighting in your work as a means of delighting more in him today.


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