This is an account not unlike the story of Balaam and his donkey
Num 22:22-33. Balaam had his path set, and though his donkey could see the obstacle, he couldn't. He had blinded himself, in a manner of speaking. Balaam was his own stumbling block. How does this relate? Well, I'll tell you my story.
Before I became a Christian, that is, chose to be separate from the world and it's draws and it's ways, I lived for my work. Always eager to please the boss (of the day) and I gave of my best. Did overtime when it was required, or when they were stuck for staff. Oft times I'd stay on for an hour or two (unpaid) to give a help out. After I became a Christian, this attitude didn't change, in fact it became more profound. Because now, I was not just doing it for the boss, I was doing it for God too. However therein lay the trap of the devil. And naturally in my eagerness to be right, I fell in!
What trap? Well, doing as much as I was for the boss, meant giving my all and doing my very best and taking on responsibilities, that were not within in my sphere, just to be of help. So what's wrong with that... well, a few things....
(1) Time for God becomes limited Matt 6:24. Consider who gets the most time? Initially when I became a Christian first, I was eager to please God in all ways (some ways I'm still struggling with). Yes, I still gave of my best at work, but I didn't stay on longer hours, because now I needed time to be involved in God's realm. I needed (and still do) to prove to my King that I could be a useful servant in His Kingdom and a willing soldier in His army.
To be able to do this, I needed not to be exhausted or wrecked after my working day. I needed to be able to listen and study without falling asleep or having my mind wander to issues at work that were as yet unresolved. It took a while for my mind to stop wandering to work. (that is something which I still have to watch). Sometimes, I find myself in the catholic mode of allotting time to God and to prayer. The majority of my time being absorbed in work and related matters.
(2) Were God to do as Psalm 26:2 says, I would indeed be found extremely lacking. He would have found me, mentally, emotionally and most probably physically at work (even outside of normal hours). He might have asked me something like My child, where are you? and I would have to have shamefully say, serving mammon.
(3) Job 1:6-7 Every day from the time we awaken to the time we slumber, we present ourselves before God. Whether in speech or action. Most times, we are so busy with our work load that we forget Psalm 33:13, 14. Now I know that I am are truly working for the Lord, but do I know that it is the Lord that I am truly working for? He is not a taskmaster. He does not give you more than you can cope with. Matt 11:28-30. When the Hebrews were rescued from Egypt, never once did God decide to send them back.
When He rescued us from the world and it's ways, He does not want to send us back. However by our choices, and that is exactly what they are...choices, we choose to be burdened by the world. How foolish we are! Rom 13:7 helps when allotting the appropriate emotions and times(I've adapted the verse for this purpose). Give to work, only that which is required of you, not everyone else's work. For how can you be worthy of your wages if you're doing more than your fair share. If you are doing more than your job describes, you are becoming a willing servant of man and by man's standard you are measuring your ability to work.
Yet we forget that we have chosen to come out and be separate from the world. The devil has a field day with us! Once it was pointed out to me, and this was over time, because I just couldn't see what they were talking about.
Was I not serving God by being the best I could be at work?
Yes and No.
in so far as work was consuming my thoughts and energy and draining my mental ability to study and learn of God. However, now, I'm on the right track. (though it takes constant reshifiting and monitoring) Now at least, I'm working toward 2 Tim 2:15 and not falling into the trap of 1 John 2:15 (the first part of it).
I was giving of my best and that is as it should be. However, I also allowed my pride to fool me into believing that I could do a lot more than I was capable of. Yes I could do the work, but I was exhausted when I left work each evening. How could I be an active\effective soldier in God's army, when all I wanted to do was sleep!
A few questions...?
-When the working day is done, where does the mind go?
To God or to sleep? Leaving pride out of the picture (which is extremely difficult for us, but possible!),
Show much do we rely on what Matthew 6:31-34 offers us?
Do we willingly want to be slaves to the world, (our work), or allow God to have first place in our lives? That means trusting Him to provide everything. Do we rely on our ability to work to gain an income or trust God to provide what we need daily? I know head knowledge will tell me that of course I trust God...but if I were to really examine myself truthfully, I'd find that perhaps I wasn't entirely truthful and would find that I'm a bit more than eager to do more than is expected of me in the workplace.
By all means, work well, but not to the detriment of your God time and your Christian friendships. Now that I've come off the treadmill at work, I'm a lot freer in Christ that I've ever been, because now He can work with me. Previously, I was being selfish. I wanted to do, I wanted to be, I wanted, I wanted I wanted, until it was rather plainly pointed out to me, that until I saw what God wanted, the I was in the way!
I was being a hypocrite...asking God to use me to His glory, when I was too concerned about work and didn't have the energy to so much as lift myself up! How much glory did He get then?
None. So again I refer to Balaam and his donkey...Balaam was his own worst enemy and he was his own stumbling block but it took his donkey to open his eyes! However like Balaam, we too can take a while to see or it takes some crash of circumstances for us to realise the truth of matters.
2 Cor 13:5, do this with an open and honest heart and where changes need to be made, do it as soon as possible.(especially with regard to the daily work).
I'll leave you with Psalm 34:4.