“Work as if it all depends on you; rest because it all depends on God.”
While the theologian in me could pick this expression apart, it gives a fairly reasonable (if incomplete) perspective on our role in the Lord’s world. As we walk through this pathway called life, Christians live in this tension.
Your level of agreement or disagreement with the two phrases of this expression depends on where you’re coming from theologically. If you’re more Armenian, you might disagree with the second part. The more Calvinist might disagree with the first part.
And yet, this pithy expression attempts to quickly balance a very difficult tension in Scripture. It’s not the first expression to try. In Proverbs 16:3, we find Scripture’s attempt to do the same.
Commit to the Lord whatever you do, and He will establish your plans.Proverbs 16:3
New International Version
When I first read this passage, my attention was captured by the “whatever you do.” Do you realize what is covered by the phrase “whatever you do”?
That’s everything we do. All our plans, desires, goals, activities, hobbies, preferences, choices, and politics—all of everything is to be committed to our Master.
When we commit everything to the Lord, we are “rolling” plans, desires, goals, activities, hobbies, preferences, choices, and politics off of our shoulders and onto the Lord’s. If we’re going to roll all of who we are and what we do onto the Lord, we had better make sure they represent Him.
That’s where the second phrase comes in: “and He will establish your plans.” Now we’re about to get technical here for a little bit, but it’s worth it. In Hebrew, the syntax of the sentence reveals the second phrase is the purpose, or results from, the first phrase.
This means we commit whatever we do to the Lord so He can establish us. This doesn’t mean (or imply) the Lord will bless anything we chunk up to Him. But what it is saying is the plans we have that are pleasing and acceptable to the Lord will be blessed by Him. And when He blesses our plans, He is blessing us.
As disciples of Jesus, why would we not want this?
I think the issue is we think the Lord cares too much for those things He probably doesn’t care too much about and doesn’t care enough for those things He actually does!
Think about it: do you really think the Lord cares if I wear a blue or red shirt today? Probably not…unless the shirt contains something obscene or sexually explicit.
Does the Lord care how I invest the financial resources He’s given me? Of course! So, shouldn’t we put our finances under His control at least as much as we consider not wearing offensive clothing?
If we’re wanting the Lord to bless our pathways, plans, and purposes, then we must learn to commit everything we’re doing to Him.
“Work as if it all depends on you”—do those things that are our job to do. “…Rest because it all depends on God” because He’s blessed our paths because of our obedience and loyalty to the Lord Jesus.
Where are some areas where you have given your ways to Him but denied more critical areas from Him?