The other day, I was praying with a friend that I wouldn’t be so hard on myself in regards to getting things done, as long as I worked as hard as I could that day. Ever since my teenage years, I’ve struggled with feelings of condemnation. The Lord has brought me a long way in this regard, but there is much work He still has to do to address these feelings. While I was praying with my friend, I felt the Lord urging me to stop being so hard on myself. During this time of prayer, I prayed that He would help me to be okay with what I got accomplished each day.
I know this isn’t a struggle I face alone as many people face this same burden. In fact, I texted a few friends who confirmed they struggle with these same feelings. In this article, I want to talk to you about how if we’re working hard unto the Lord, you shouldn’t beat yourself up if you don’t get things done. I also want to address how such an attitude hampers our productivity, not to mention making us feel unnecessarily guilty.
Men and women are hardwired by God for productivity. Built into our DNA is the necessity to not sit idle. Paul told the Thessalonians to warn the idle (1 Thessalonians 5:14). In 1 Timothy 5:8 we’re told that if we won’t work we are worse than an unbeliever. The desire to work and to do excellent work unto the glory of the Lord should be the goal of every Christian (Colossians 3:23). Whatever your job is presently, part of your witness as a Christian in that place is to work hard as unto the Lord.
There is no question work is an important part of our lives. After all, we’ll spend thousands of hours of our lives working hard at a job. Our attitude at that job and how we perform it, says a lot about what we value and how we live our lives. It’s not enough to work; we’re to do our work excellently. For some of you, while you go to work and work hard, you may still feel at the end of the day that you didn’t do enough. Instead of feelings of accomplishment, you feel swamped with all the work that is piling up all around you. Trust me I understand. I often feel overwhelmed. Feeling overwhelmed is not a bad thing. It’s what we do with those feelings that matter.
If we feel constantly “overwhelmed” to the point that no matter how far we dig out of the pit of our “to do list”, we never ever make any progress, then we seriously need to assess how busy we are. If you’re working as hard as you can every single day and you still feel guilty all the time, what you need to understand is the grace of God. God does not give us more than we can handle. He does, however, call us to work hard and with excellence for His glory, whether that is at a ministry or secular job. There’s no difference between ministry and secular work either as all work whether it is paid or volunteer is to be done to the glory of God. To further clarify my point, godly men and women do all they do (dishes, laundry, washing the car, working at their job, mowing the lawn,etc.), for the glory of God.
The gospel frees us from feelings of condemnation. Paul’s words in Romans 8:1 are particularly helpful. He states, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ.” By using the word “Therefore”, Paul links to his previous teaching in the first seven chapters of Romans. He specifically connects the truth of Romans 6 with his point in Romans 8—namely that we’re united to Christ. To be united to Christ means He is ours and we are His. God’s people have union with Christ which makes possible their ability to rest and to press in closer to Himself. This is why when we feel like what we’re doing isn’t good enough, we need to go back and preach the truth of Romans 8:1 to ourselves, “There is therefore now no condemnation for those who are in Christ” since because of Christ we’re in Him. We’re no longer “guilty” since we’ve pleaded guilty as sinners. Christ has released sinners from the chains of sin so they are no longer under the domain of sin but now have a new identity, new desires, and affections for Himself.
Your work life may be difficult. You may also have an easy work life and can breeze through your work day with no problems at all. Yet all around you are people who may not find work easy. As a Christian, we’re called to be salt and light (Matthew 5:13-16). The next time you see someone having a hard day at work, try encouraging them. Don’t be hard on them but kindly tell them how you value their work. Please be genuine about this and not pretentious.
Your productivity is important but so is your life in Christ. The next time you’re feeling like your productivity isn’t good enough, think of what Jesus has done for you. Instead of focusing on how much of a failure you are, think of who you are now in Christ. Christ has won the day in His death on the cross and His resurrection is the promise. Christ’s finished work provides the reason why you can address issues of guilt in all of your life. Now put off that guilt you feel and put on Christ. Christ victory has redeemed you from your past. The death and resurrection of Christ free you from your present failures and any future feelings of failure, fear of man, or self-imposed guilt.
I know when I have feelings of guilt for my productivity or lack thereof, what I need to do is focus on Christ. As I prayed with my friend, I felt liberated and exposed. That was a good thing. We all need to come to an end of ourselves so Christ can take an ever-increasing role in our lives. Feeling guilty for not being fully productive may seem to be spiritual, but it is actually ungodly because self-imposed feelings of guilt are not the guilt that God gives us when we sin. God does not lay a hammer over our heads and make us feel guilty. Instead, He shows us our sin, convicts it of it, and leads us to repentance. False guilt is ungodly and demonic. False guilt is false repentance imposed by your own flesh that hinders your growth in Christ.
I haven’t arrived in this area of my life. I’m still a work in progress and God is working on me in this area. Focus on Christ– He is all you need. He is your treasure. Lift up His name and give Him praise. As you do that you’ll find that feelings of false guilt will be replaced by the peace of God. Not only will your productivity increase, but you’ll also find you are increasingly thinking God’s thoughts after Him as you focus more on the Word of God instead of your circumstances all the time. The end result of this is you’ll be truly God-centered in practice in the course of your daily life.