God loves the smell of your sweat. You might stink to high heaven from hard work but for God it is a sweet aroma and sacred incense. God loves it because it brings him glory when we break a sweat loving him with all of our energy (Mark 12:30). Love isn’t primarily measured by words spoken, but by calories burned (1 John 3:18). We are to use all of our strength to love God. Using our hands and our effort is as valuable to God as using our brains.
We should feel free to go hard after God with all our strength. We need not have any hesitation about using our very tangible efforts in work as loving God. But because we only have so much strength and energy, we need to make sure we are not wasting any of our energy on sin. Too many of us waste our energy on things we can’t have and stuff that we can’t control. If we spend a bunch of energy on things like pride, anger, and selfishness then we only end up wasting even more energy on guilt, shame, and regret. Nothing saps our strength more than sin. So, then, we need to keep busy doing the right things.
Loving God with all our strength requires limits and healthy rhythms of life. If we understand the importance and value of hard work, we much too often wrongly think that the answer to most things is to work harder. You don’t do that with your car. You don’t see a red light come on the dash and automatically say, “Oh! there is a problem with my car – I will drive it harder and longer and the problem will go away.”
Some Christians have a bent toward working themselves into the ground, not using their God-given brains to tell them that this is not loving God. Many persons feel the pressure of responsibility, the fear of failure, the obsessive need for perfectionism, and the just plain stress of dealing with people and conflict. So, we ignore our better judgment and put our foot to the accelerator. It is no wonder, then, that people have crack-ups and breakdowns, both emotionally and physically. Some individuals find the shame of failure too unbearable to let up on the gas pedal, and so keep going day after day worried that they might be letting someone down. Wise and rightly ordered priorities come from well-rested Christians. So, it must be remembered that keeping the Sabbath affords an opportunity to put all our energy into loving God in ways that we cannot on the other six days.
On the other extreme, laziness can easily creep in because the classic spiritual disciplines of Bible reading, solitude and silence, prayer and fasting, and giving rarely clamor for our immediate attention. We may have so many other irons in the fire that the very relational activities that help us connect with the Lord Jesus get squeezed out. Tyranny of the urgent is a harsh taskmaster, and we rarely slow down long enough to realize that we have drifted far from God and are in danger of ignoring Christ and his salvation out of sheer neglect (Hebrews 2:1-4).
Let us, then, put all our strength into loving God, rather than simply loving the idea of loving God. All relationships take work. So, if we claim to be Christians it only makes sense to use the best time of our day each day to relationally connect with Christ and seek to connect with other Christians in fellowship. Now is not the time to feel guilty for what you have not done, but to accept the grace that is in Jesus and enjoy his presence and his Church. Blessed are those who hunger for righteousness, for they shall be filled.