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striving & being

By Daniel Kennedy
September 5, 2020

Passages of the day: Click HERE ​to read today’s passages.

Ecclesiastes 10:1-12:14
2 Corinthians 8:1-15
Psalm 49:1-20
Proverbs 22:20-21

“The end of the matter; all has been heard. Fear God and keep his commandments, for this is the whole duty of man.” Ecclesiastes 12:13

A big challenge I’ve been wrestling with lately is the tension between “striving” and “being” - or what I define as: 1) the persistent desire to achieve or accumulate more; vs 2) the state of simply being content with where I am in life and with what God has so generously given me.

In Ecclesiastes, the Preacher reminds us repeatedly that all of our striving is, at the end of the day, vanity (“Vanity of vanities, says the Preacher, all is vanity”; Eccl 1:2). Yet at the same time, God has placed us on this earth for a reason - primarily, to glorify Him and enjoy Him forever. He also instructed us in Genesis to “be fruitful and multiply and fill the earth and subdue it” (Gen 1:28) Taken literally, this means work is a good thing; indeed, God intended for us to strive a certain amount in our lives. It was never his plan for us to just sit around and be passive couch potatoes watching Netflix, waiting for the trumpets to sound.

So how can we reconcile this apparent tension between striving and being? In my own life, I have noticed that whenever my striving becomes too great, it becomes idolatry. I have found that the only way to combat this idolatry is by “being;” quite simply, by resting in God’s promises for my life, and by trusting Him completely. And as the Psalmist wrote, "by being still, and knowing that He is God.” (Psalm 46:10) I would encourage you, then, the next time you feel yourself striving too much after something, take some time to be still before God, and give Him back your heart. He is always waiting.

To memorize:

Be not afraid when a man becomes rich, when the glory of his house increases. For when he dies he will carry nothing away; his glory will not go down after him.

— Psalm 49:16-17

Prayer to start with: Lord Jesus, I thank you for the desires you’ve given me to be productive, achieve and even to accumulate (we wouldn’t survive if we didn’t have this instinct!) But please help me to keep these things from becoming idols in my life. Help me, Lord, to put my ultimate trust and self-worth in you alone. Thank you for your promises for me, and please lead me to be perfectly content in You. Amen.