Daily Reform, Day 219

Galatians 3:2 and Psalm 46:1-11

From the Reformer

And yet many devote much time and labor to the Law, to the decrees of the fathers, and to the traditions of the Pope. Many of these specialists have incapacitated themselves for any kind of work, good or bad, by their rigorous attention to rules and laws. All the same, they could not obtain a quiet conscience and peace in Christ. But the moment the Gospel of Christ touches them, certainty comes to them, and joy, and a right judgment.

—Martin Luther, Commentary on the Epistle to the Galatians

Pulling It Together

While there are many people who do not work, there are also those who depend upon their work. They do not depend so much upon the paycheck as the validation their work provides to them. They are worthwhile because they work. They devotedly rise each day and go to work, taking pleasure in never using sick days, and in outperforming the next guy. To their thinking, their hard work somehow makes them good.

Yet they know something is missing. At the end of a life, their life of work becomes a lament. There is a bad taste in their mouth as they boast about their years of devotion to the workplace. They feel as if they had missed out on parts of living because of all of the working. In the end, the validation of work is gone, not only because they are no longer working but because they sense the loss of living.

This is just as much a picture of the Church as it is of the working class. We can come to depend upon our own works so much that we miss out on the life-giving work of Christ. We know about it but are so busy being good that we become distracted. Eventually, the only thing we think and talk about is our hard work and devotion to the Church. We can become so devoted to the doing of things—to our Christian service—that we forget that the One for whom we do them does not want us to do anything today but be still and know he is God. He is our validation—even when we take the day off to spend it with him.

© Mark E. Ryman, Daily Reform: Devotions with the Reformers

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