Categories
Theology

Trust in God, Get to Sleep

It is in vain that you rise up early and go late to rest, eating the bread of anxious toil; for he gives to his beloved sleep. (Psalm 127:2)

We must always live in faith that God is the one working in and through us (Phil. 2:13). He is the one who makes things tick. We are not ultimate. He is ultimate. We still must build and stay awake and work hard and plan and prepare. But we must not do it anxiously.  We must learn to rest in the LORD, and trust his sovereign work in our lives, for “our God is in the heavens, he does whatever he pleases” (Ps. 115:3).

Even though we must work hard, Psalm 127:2 is a reminder that anxious toiling (i.e. trying to get everything done–and more–because “it won’t get done otherwise”) can be fatal.  It can keep us from getting proper rest and retreat.  A hard day’s work is good, but a good night sleep is better.  God wants to give his people rest so that they might work hard tomorrow, but a day of anxious toiling might not only prevent someone from crawling into bed, worrying about your work might keep someone up at night thinking, “Did I do enough today?”

This way of thinking is rooted in the sovereignty of God.  If God is sovereign to you (as he should be!), you will work hard in faith, and rest knowing that the results lie in God’s hand. If God is semi-sovereign or not at all, you will work hard, and you will either refuse rest or not get it because you’ll constantly wonder what you can do better or differently next time.

Categories
Life

“I’m Called To Love Them, But I Don’t Have to Like Them!”

Have you ever heard a Christian say this?  I’ve not only heard it, but said it many times. Yesterday, talking about Barack Obama, a friend told me that they love Obama but don’t like him.  (By the way, this was right before he called Obama a “self aggrandizing, arrogant socialist…who is a piss-poor leader.”)

Sometimes I wonder if we say “I love him, but I just don’t like him,” so that we can justify our sinful and selfish attitude or behavior toward an individual who is hard to love.  We say we love them and that love is a matter of the will, not an emotion.  That is, we argue that love is a choice, not a feeling, as my friend did.

But don’t feelings necessarily arise from the choices of our will?  I think they do.

I don’t see a difference in the Scriptures between liking and loving.  I think that we say things like this simply because we don’t want to do the hard, messy work of actually loving.  Consider though how God has loved us — the untouchable, unlovable sinners that we are.  He never said, “Well, I quite dislike this group since they are a stench to me, but I guess I’ll send my Son to show them how much I love them.”  The call for us is to be like him: “You therefore must be perfect as your heavenly Father is perfect” (Matt. 5:48).

In an article from 1970, John Piper talks about how it is impossible to have the will to love someone if we dislike them:

If we dislike another person it will be impossible to consistently will the loving thing for that person. Sometimes we will simply forget to restrain our feelings and other times when we think we have willed the loving thing, our dislike will have sneaked in through a patronizing tone of voice or a depreciating glance. We cannot love consistently if we do not like (emphasis added).

Jesus said, “In the same way, let your light shine before others, so that they may see your good works and give glory to your Father who is in heaven,” and also, “Love your enemies and pray for those who persecute you,” (Matt. 5:16; 44).  He did not say, “Love your enemies, but feel free to not like them if want.”  No one will glorify your Father in heaven for that.

What are your thoughts?