Then the Lord said to Moses, “See, I have chosen Bezalel son of Uri, the son of Hur, of the tribe of Judah, and I have filled him with the Spirit of God, with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills—to make artistic designs for work in gold, silver and bronze, to cut and set stones, to work in wood, and to engage in all kinds of crafts.” (Exodus 31:1-5)
We’re in a four week series studying the life of an obscure biblical character named Bezalel, extracting applications for our own work today. Last week, we saw the significance of Bezalel—a creative—being the first person said to be “filled with the Spirit of God.” This week, we’re looking at this same passage from Exodus 31 from a different angle.
Exodus 31:1-5 is one of many sections of Scripture that debunk the myth of “the creative genius.” In our culture today, we are enthralled with entrepreneurs, YouTube celebrities, and other culture makers who build empires seemingly through grit and creativity alone. But as today’s passage reminds us, while grit and talent may be part of the equation, in the end, all creative success is graced by God.
Bezalel didn’t create the Tabernacle out of nothing. He started with God’s creative Spirit, “with wisdom, with understanding, with knowledge and with all kinds of skills.” Furthermore, Bezalel was given the raw materials of gold, silver, bronze, stones, and wood. All of this—all of these good gifts—were graced by God. As James 1:17 says, “Every good gift and every perfect gift is from above, coming down from the Father of lights.”
Bezalel’s creative endeavors didn’t start with grit. They started with grace. The same is true for you and me.
Now, does that mean grit plays no role? Absolutely not! Colossians 3:23 commands us to “work heartily as unto the Lord.” It wasn’t enough for Bezalel to be graced with these gifts of skill and resources. He had to roll up his sleeves and do the work to put those gifts of grace to use!
I’ve said before that Christ-followers must wrestle with a unique tension between “trust and hustle”—on the one hand trusting in God to provide, while on the other hustling to put our God-given energy and skills to work. Another way of saying this is that we, like Bezalel, must embrace both grace and grit—accepting gracious gifts from our Father (such as talent, materials, and opportunities), while also demonstrating grit to steward those gifts well.
But let’s never forget that even our ability to “be gritty” is a gift of grace. In the words of Moses, “You may say to yourself, ‘My power and the strength of my hands have produced this wealth for me.’ But remember the Lord your God, for it is he who gives you the ability to produce wealth” (Deuteronomy 8:17-18).
Let this dichotomy of grace and grit humble and motivate each of us as we engage in our work today!