Fruitless Labor

And Simon answered, “Master, we toiled all night and took nothing! But at your word I will let down the nets.” ESV Matthew 5:5

Some days at work, we toil all day and get nowhere. At the end of day we have more to do than we did at the beginning. As mothers, we clean all day only to find the house messier. As teachers, we labor all day only to have students fail the assignment. As salespeople, we build strong relationships with clients, only to have them sign with the competition. As contractors, stubborn inspectors insist we tear it out and do it differently just to appease them. These days are frustrating, but they really serve to shape our spiritual formation.

First, we must realize because of the curse, we will continually have these days. When we sinned, God cursed our work, and declared only the sweat of our brow would bring progress. Many days will end with fruitless labor. This is a hard truth, but it’s reality, and facing reality allows us to live in it. Second, and more important, Jesus wants to enter our reality. He wants to be a part of our fruitless days. In the verse above, He interacted with the disciples after a night of failed fishing. We think Jesus often meets us at our best, but in reality, it often meets us at our lowest points. At the end of a hard day with nothing to show for it, you may be in just the right place to meet Jesus. Finally, Jesus is the only one who can make our work successful. In the story recounted above Jesus blessed the disciples with a catch beyond their wildest dreams. While He doesn’t always do this for us, any good that we receive from our work ultimately comes from Him. Fruitless days are opportunities and reminders to seek Him more.

I pray you will seek Jesus in your work. Only He can make your work profitable, and on occasion He will do so beyond your wildest expectations. May you seek Him today and find Him in the midst of your calling. That’s spiritual formation.

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One thought on “Fruitless Labor

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  1. Great post. We do often expect immediate results. But keeping on keeping on regardless of what we see – that is spiritual formation. And that’s an important point to keep in mind. Thanks for this reminder!

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