“And why do you worry about clothes? See how the flowers of the field grow. They do not labor or spin. Yet I tell you that not even Solomon in all his splendor was dressed like one of these. If that is how God clothes the grass of the field, which is here today and tomorrow is thrown into the fire, will he not much more clothe you—you of little faith? So do not worry, saying, ‘What shall we eat?’ or ‘What shall we drink?’ or ‘What shall we wear?’ For the pagans run after all these things, and your heavenly Father knows that you need them. But seek first his kingdom and his righteousness, and all these things will be given to you as well. (Matthew 6:28-33)
I began this series by asking you two questions:
In your relationships with one another, have the same mindset as Christ Jesus: Who, being in very nature God, did not consider equality with God something to be used to his own advantage; rather, he made himself nothing by taking the very nature of a servant, being made in human likeness. And being found in appearance as a man, he humbled himself by becoming obedient to death— even death on a cross! (Philippians 2:5-8)
We’re in a four-week series exploring the work beneath our work—in other words, the ultimate why underneath what we do.
Now, if you are subscribed to my devotionals, part of your motivation for your work is undoubtedly to leverage your vocation for the glory of God and the good of others. But if you find yourself consistently overworking—if you find that you’re unable to rest and “turn your brain off” at home—it’s worth asking whether there are deeper motivations for your work that are less than God-honoring.
Then the eyes of [Adam and Eve] were opened, and they realized they were naked; so they sewed fig leaves together and made coverings for themselves. (Genesis 3:7)
Last week, I asked you this: What is the work beneath your work? In other words, why are you working so hard?
Over the next three weeks, we’ll explore three of the most common answers to that question. And while this will be far from an exhaustive list, I’m confident it will be a helpful one.
Here’s the first: Performance, or using your work to earn the respect, love, and acceptance of others.
For the first few years of my career, this was the primary work beneath my work. I wasn’t working primarily for the glory of God and the good of others. I was working to impress you.
And so I would not-so-subtly name-drop big brands I had worked for and impressive people I knew—not to facilitate great conversation, but to make you think I had the most impressive LinkedIn profile in the room.
Jacob made love to Rachel also, and his love for Rachel was greater than his love for Leah….When the Lord saw that Leah was not loved, he enabled her to conceive, but Rachel remained childless. Leah became pregnant and gave birth to a son. She named him Reuben, for she said, “It is because the Lord has seen my misery. Surely my husband will love me now.” (Genesis 29:30-32)
In today’s passage, we find one of the best biblical case studies for what Tim Keller calls "the work beneath [our] work.” On the surface, Leah’s work was that of childbearing. But her real work—the true why underneath all of her labor—was the exhausting work of winning Jacob’s love.
After her first son Reuben was born, Leah said, “Surely my husband will love me now” (v. 32).
But evidently, he didn’t, because Leah said the Lord gave her a second child, “Because…I am not loved” (v. 33).
Maybe the third son would be the...