“In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.” Proverbs 16:9 (NIV)
Over the past couple of weeks, we have been exploring the tension we Christians must embrace in our work, between trusting in God and hustling to make things happen in our chosen work. As we saw last week, Solomon lays out a sequence to guide our thinking on this topic, beginning with committing our work to the Lord (Proverbs 16:3). In verse nine of the same chapter, Solomon urges us to hustle, saying, “In their hearts humans plan their course, but the Lord establishes their steps.”
Yes, God has called us to trust in Him, but He has also graciously given us minds to plan and execute. Once we have committed our works to the Lord, we are called to hustle, to work “with all our heart, as working for the Lord” (Colossians 3:23).
Too often, I’m afraid that we Christians focus too much on either trusting or hustling. Some Christians use “waiting on the Lord” as a license for unbiblical laziness, while others hustle so hard that they are unhealthy physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The beauty of Proverbs 16:9 is that it clearly blesses embracing the tension between these two truths. Yes, we must recognize that “the Lord establishes our steps,” but it is also right and good for us to “plan our own course,” to design, build, wireframe, develop, paint, innovate, write, advertise, and sell.
Our work is one of the primary ways in which we love our neighbors and serve the world. Remember, work existed prior to the Fall in the Garden of Eden. Work is an inherently good thing designed by God to reveal His character and love and serve others. Because of this, ambition for our work which drives our hustle can be a good thing. But as we will see in next week’s devotional, it is only when our hustle is accompanied by trusting in God that we will find true rest.