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When Work Becomes an Idol - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig
The Truth Network Radio
November 24, 2022 5:00 am

When Work Becomes an Idol - Part A

Connect with Skip Heitzig / Skip Heitzig

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November 24, 2022 5:00 am

Scripture commends work that's well done, but something good can become bad if taken too far. In the message "When Work Becomes an Idol," Skip shares some warnings about work overtaking your life.

What's Right What's Left
Pastor Ernie Sanders

Being a worker is good. Being a workaholic is not good. In fact, it can become an idol.

And an idol typically we think of as something made out of stone, some image that people ravel in front of, something from antiquity that was idolatry, but an idol is simply something that gets elevated to an ultimate position. It's true that too much of a good thing can become bad. Work is good, but too much work can take a detrimental toll on your life. Today on Connect with Skip Heitig, Skip shares how you can honor the Lord with a healthy work-life balance. Right now, we want to tell you about a resource that explores the epidemic of fatherlessness in our nation and how godly men can help turn the tide.

Your gift to this teaching program has helped us grow, and we want to do more in 2023. This month with your gift of $50 or more, you'll receive a download or DVD of a new critical issues video hosted by Skip, Where's Dad? The problems are clear. Teen crime, drug abuse, youth suicide, abortion, and a host of others. The question is, where's dad? Where's the man of the household when their boys are making life decisions about their treatment of women, their worldview, and their morals?

Why are legions of energetic teens channeling their time towards self-destructive and socially destructive behavior? And where's dad to guide them, to correct them, to be in relationship with them? We realize that single-parent families are not exclusively a male issue. Fathers who do not take responsibility for their children are the critical problem. Where's Dad? looks at the problem of missing fathers in the home, tells stories of people who have been impacted by this plague, and looks at the possibilities of reconciliation at any age or stage of life. Get your DVD or download of the full-length video Where's Dad? hosted by Skip Heitzig and featuring Josh McDowell. Receive your copy of Where's Dad? when you help us expand Skip's teaching with your donation of $50 or more, call 1-800-922-1888 or go to to get your copy of Where's Dad?

Now, we're in Psalm 127 as we join Skip Heitzig for today's teaching. It's no revelation to you that America is a nation founded on hard work. We reward hard work, we celebrate hard work every September, the first Monday of September, we have a holiday called Labor Day, where we pay tribute to the achievement of American workers. And if you work hard, typically, you will be elevated in your career, you will be esteemed among your peers, you will make more income, you will be able to provide better for your family, we call all that success.

We typically put that under the banner of the American dream. In fact, even the Scripture commends hard work. In Colossians chapter 3, Paul wrote, Whatever you do, work at it with all your heart as working for the Lord, not for men, since you know that you will receive an inheritance from the Lord as a reward.

It is the Lord Christ that you are serving. If you remember back in our first study in this little series, we talked about how work was established from the creation of the world that God himself worked, he worked six days, and then he rested on the seventh day. And then he created mankind in his image, and he gave him a job, put him in the garden to tend it.

And all that God was doing with that, he looked at it and said, it is very good. So we established the fact that the idea of working is something that God put within us from the creation, and it is very good. But even something good can become something bad if it's taken to an extreme, if it's taken too far. Work is good. Overwork is not good. Being a worker is good.

Being a workaholic is not good. In fact, it can become an idol. And an idol typically we think of as something made out of stone, some image that people grovel in front of, something from antiquity that was idolatry. But an idol is simply something that gets elevated to an ultimate position. Typically, an idol is something that is good, but gets elevated to the ultimate position. So a good thing can become a bad thing if it keeps you from the best thing.

You've heard me say that a number of times through the years. A good thing can become a bad thing if it keeps you from the best thing. An idol can be a girlfriend. An idol can be a boyfriend. An idol can be a position, an occupation. A job can become an idol. Gordon Dahl once wrote this, an economist.

I'm going to throw this up on the screen. Most middle-class Americans tend to worship their work, work at their play, and play at their worship. As a result, their meanings and values are distorted. Their relationships disintegrate faster than they can keep them in repair.

Now, when that happens, that's when it's bad. That's when work can become an idol. So I've had you turn to Psalm 127, and though we're going to read the entire Psalm, it's very short. It's only five verses. We're going to be principally looking at verse 1 and 2. What we have in the 127th Psalm is a psalm or a song, since that's what the Psalms were.

It's the ancient hymnbook of Israel. It is a psalm or a poem of contrasting values, two different ways to do life. A life built on vanity, number one, versus a life built on value, number two.

So you can build projects for temporal benefit, or you can build people for spiritual benefit. Psalm 127, let's look at it together. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.

Unless the Lord guards the city, the watchman stays awake in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows, for so he gives his beloved sleep. Always love that verse. Behold, children are a heritage from the Lord. The fruit of the womb is a reward. Like arrows in the hand of a warrior, so are the children of one's youth.

Happy is the man who has his quiver full of them. They shall not be ashamed, but shall speak with their enemies in the gate. Now, I want you to notice who this psalm is authored by.

If you go back to verse one, just before it, it says, a song of a sense, and then who's the author's name? Solomon. So I feel that Solomon is uniquely qualified to talk about this topic for two reasons. Reason number one, he was the wisest guy on earth. The Bible says that of all the people on the planet, God gave him unique wisdom so that he was wiser than any of the people at his time. So number one, because of his wisdom, he is qualified. He has a unique qualification. Number two is because he failed to apply the wisdom God gave him. And so he spoke from experience as one who violated the very principles of wisdom that God gave to him.

I'll put it to you this way. Solomon was a classic overachiever. He was a workaholic, as we're going to see.

The boy failed relationally. He didn't have a wife. He had 700 wives.

You've got to feel sorry for the man. 700 wives and 300 mistresses, concubines, are called in the Bible. So he had 1,000 women in his life, and he wasn't good at relationships with any of them. And he also wrote a book besides Psalm.

He wrote an entire couple of books, not just Proverbs, but he wrote like his life's journal called the Book of Ecclesiastes, where he admits his whole journey and writes about it in detail. And he uses a word in that book over and over and over again. Anybody remember what that word is? Vanity. He uses the word vain or vanity or vanities over 30 times in the book. Vanity is a word that means meaninglessness or emptiness, vapid. It is vain. And that's interesting because here in the Psalms, in verse one and two of Psalm 127, he uses the word vain three times. And so what I want to do is kind of work off the word that Solomon uses in verse one and two, the word vain. And here's the outline.

It's very simple. Your work is in danger of becoming an idol when three things happen. When you are working in vain, when you are watching in vain, and when you are worrying in vain. When you are working in vain, watching in vain, and worrying in vain. And he says as much in these verses.

So let's begin with the first. When you are working in vain, notice the beginning in verse one of the 127th Psalm. Unless the Lord the Lord builds the house, they labor, here's the first usage of it, in vain who build it. Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it. The question is, was Solomon speaking about his own personal house, his home, or was he speaking about another house, the temple, the house of the Lord? There's a debate about this. And both would be true, by the way.

Both would be true. But I have a hunch that he wasn't so much talking about building his own personal abode as much as he was talking about the temple, the house of the Lord. Because right after that, he talks about unless the Lord guards the city. And the city is the city where God dwelt, the city of the great King in the temple, the house of the Lord. The temple was often called the house. In fact, the mountain that the temple sat on was called, in Hebrew, Har Habayit, which is mountain of the house.

So when they talked about the house, the house, the house, they usually refer to the house of the Lord. We know that David, his dad, established Jerusalem as the capital. David planned to build the temple. He didn't build a temple.

God wouldn't let him. So it was Solomon who ended up constructing the temple, the house of the Lord. In fact, as soon as Solomon became king, he embarked on this massive building project. And let me just quickly describe how important that was to Solomon. As soon as he became king, he contacted a buddy of his dad's named Hiram, who was the king of Tyre, a Phoenician city up north.

And he worked out a deal where they could do a trade. Solomon would give him wheat, and oil, and wine from Israel in exchange for cypress and cedars of Lebanon, wood to use for the beams of the temple. So to assure that this would get done, Solomon sent Hiram 30,000 woodcutters, 30,000 from Israel, went to Lebanon to cut wood and bring it to Jerusalem.

Then Solomon drafted 183,000 workers, along with 80,000 stonecutters, along with 3,300 supervisors. So if I'm counting, if I'm doing my math right, this boy employed about 300,000 people to build the temple, the house of the Lord. It took him seven and a half years to build the temple with 300,000 men. Seven and a half years to build the temple. By the way, there's a footnote in the description earlier on in the Old Testament. Seven and a half years to build the house of the Lord, he spent 13 years building his own house.

So it could be either one. Unless the Lord builds the house of the Lord or your own personal house, both of them fit. Solomon was a builder. In fact, he built a lot of things. He was, I'll say it without blinking, he was an overcommitted workaholic.

An overcommitted workaholic. I'm going to read something to you from the book of Ecclesiastes, that little journal I told you about that he wrote. We'll put the words up on the screen.

You can follow along. This is Ecclesiastes 2, beginning in verse 4. Solomon said, I made my works great. I built myself houses, plural, and planted myself vineyards. I made myself gardens and orchards, and I planted all kinds of fruit trees in them.

I made myself water pools from which to water the growing trees of the grove. I acquired male and female servants and had servants born in my house. Yes, I had greater possessions of herds and flocks than all who were in Jerusalem before me. I also gathered for myself silver and gold and the special treasures of kings and of the provinces.

I acquired male and female singers, the delights of the sons of men and musical instruments of all kinds. So, I became great and excelled more than all who were before me in Jerusalem. Also, my wisdom remained with me. That part's debatable, but I had more to do. But did you notice his boasting, so to speak, here? He said, I made, I built, I made, I planted, I made, I acquired, I gathered.

And then he writes this little explanation. Whatever my eyes desired, I did not keep from them. I did not withhold from my heart any pleasure, for my heart rejoiced in all my labor. And this was my reward from all my labor. Then I looked on all the works that my hands had done and on the labor which I had toiled. And indeed, all was vanity. And grasping for the wind, there was no prophet under the sun. Really? After all that hard work and acquiring and labor, that's what you say about it all?

Yes, not at all. Yes, emptiness, meaninglessness. He continues on in that chapter in verse 17. Therefore, I hated life because the work that was done under the sun was grievous to me. For all is vanity and grasping for the wind. Then I hated all my labor in which I had toiled under the sun because I must leave it to the man who will come after me. And now in verse 20, therefore, I turned my heart and despaired of all the labor in which I had toiled under the sun.

Wow. First of all, the boy had a drive to work, to build, to acquire, to create. But all the while he was doing that, his relational life was crumbling. And his spiritual life was crumbling so that those women that he was chasing eventually turned his heart, the Bible says, from the Lord. So he was building and working in vain. And in Psalm 127, he is admitting that there is vanity in working when you have misplaced priorities.

When you have misplaced priorities. Now let me just say a word to those who, like me, work in ministry. Because I find one of the great dangers of this can be in ministry. Because people in ministry, we say, yeah, but I'm working for the Lord.

Right? It sounds just so much better than I'm working at a secular job. I'm working for the Lord.

But you know what? There's a difference between working for the Lord and working with the Lord. And if you remember the church at Ephesus that Jesus wrote that little postcard to in Revelation chapter 2, he said, you guys are hard working. You are laborious. You are industrious. But I have something against you.

You've left your first love. You can be working for the Lord and not working with the Lord. There's a huge difference between activity and accomplishment. Now, the Greeks used to have a little proverb. It's a good proverb. It said, if you always keep the bow bent, eventually it will break. It was a little proverb about overcommitment.

If you always keep the bow bent in tension, eventually it will break. The meaning is, if you always live with what we would say the pedal to the metal in life, something in life has to give. And usually what gives are the people around you, the relationships that at one time you deemed were important and a priority to you, but they take the back seat because you're working so hard. You all know the name Douglas MacArthur, I'm sure, the great general from World War II. He was head of the Pacific theater of operations for the American military during World War II. In the Philippines, he was stationed. General Douglas MacArthur had a nephew, also called Douglas MacArthur, but Douglas MacArthur II.

Well, Douglas MacArthur II, the nephew of the general, worked for the United States State Department for the United States Army. He was the first president when John Foster Dulles was the Secretary of State. One evening, Secretary Dulles called his home to get a hold of young MacArthur. His wife answered, not knowing it was Secretary of State Dulles. And Dulles said, I'd like to speak to your husband.

Where is he? And she said to whoever was on the phone, not knowing it was him, she said, MacArthur is where MacArthur is, on weekdays, Saturdays, Sundays, and nights, in that office. She just unloaded.

Well, Dulles knew there was a problem, so he figured out a way to get a hold of MacArthur. When he got him on the phone, he said, go home at once, boy. Your home front is crumbling. Your home front is crumbling.

Here's a question. How's your home front? How's your home front? I'm not asking how your house is, your stucco on your house, or your siding on your house, or your roof, or your garage.

Those might be fine. How's your home front? How are those people, the relationships in your home? Working in vain, that's number one. Second is watching in vain. The Psalm continues, after saying, unless the Lord builds a house, they labor in vain, who build it? We're told this, unless the Lord guards the city, that his watches maintains it.

The watchman, those who are on the walls doing the physical job of that, the watchman stays awake in vain. It's one thing to build a temple, the house of the Lord. It's another thing to protect it.

It has to be guarded. Now, the people of Jerusalem believe that their city was invincible, because it was the city of God. And even back in Psalm 125, two Psalms before that, it says, those who trust in the Lord will be like Mount Zion, which cannot be moved. As the mountains surround Jerusalem, so the Lord surrounds his people.

From this time forth, even forevermore. So based on Psalms like that, they just thought, as long as we're in the city of God, God's watching over it. And by the way, as long as God watched over it, things were good. But when God wasn't watching over it, things would not be good.

That's fair enough. Well, who built the temple again? Who built the house of the Lord?

Who did the construction? Solomon. And when Solomon built it, he dedicated it. And he had a long prayer of dedication. It comes to us in the book of 1 Kings Chapter 8 and 9. You don't have to turn there.

I'm going to throw this again up on the screen so you can see it. But I want to read something to you that God told Solomon after Solomon prayed after the temple was built. He said, Oh Lord, please watch over this house and watch over this city.

And so God answered him. This is 1 Kings Chapter 9. It says, The Lord appeared to Solomon a second time, as he appeared to him at Gibeon.

And the Lord said to him, I've heard your prayer and your supplications that you have made before me. I have sanctified this house which you have built to put my name there forever, and my eyes and my heart will be there perpetually. Now, if you walk before me as your father David walked in integrity of heart and uprightness to do according to all that I have commanded you, and if you keep my statutes and my judgments, then I will establish the throne of your kingdom over Israel forever, as I promised David your father, saying, You shall not fail to have a man sit on the throne of Israel. But if you or your sons at all turn from following me and do not keep my commandments and my statutes which I have set before you, but go and serve other gods and worship them, then I will cut off Israel from the land which I have given them. And this house which I have sanctified for my name will be cast out of my sight. Israel will be a proverb and a byword among all peoples.

That's Skip Hyten with a message from the series Hustle and Grind. Now, we want to tell you about a special opportunity you have to take your knowledge of the Bible to a deeper level. If you're ready to study God's word beyond going to church and personal Bible study, you're ready for Calvary College.

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Your application for the 2023 spring term is available now and classes start January 9th. Apply today at That's Thank you for joining us today. Connect with Skip Hytsek exists to connect listeners like you to God's truth, strengthening your walk with Him and bringing more people into His family. That's why these teachings are available to you and so many others on air and online.

If they've inspired you to keep living for Jesus, please consider giving a gift today to encourage other listeners like you in the same way. Just call 800-922-1888. That's 800-922-1888 or visit slash donate. That's slash donate.

Thank you. Tune in tomorrow as Skip Hytsek shares how you can build a healthier, more life-giving relationship with your work. Make a connection, make a connection at the foot of the cross and cast all burdens on His word. Make a connection, connection. Connect with Skip Hytsek is a presentation of Connection Communications, connecting you to God's never-changing truth in ever-changing times.
Whisper: medium.en / 2022-11-27 13:09:43 / 2022-11-27 13:18:59 / 9

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