May 31, 2017 • Life for Leaders
You have forgotten God your Savior; you have not remembered the Rock, your fortress. Therefore, though you set out the finest plants and plant imported vines, though on the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud, yet the harvest will be as nothing in the day of disease and incurable pain.
When we think about the cost of forgetting God, we are apt to think of “spiritual” things. When we forget God, we fail to worship him. When we forget God, we cut ourselves off from his guidance. When we forget God, we lose a strong sense of our life’s purpose.
No doubt, forgetting God will lead to sorry consequences such as these. But Isaiah’s prophecy reveals further and surprising implications that follow from our forgetfulness. In 17:10, Isaiah notes that the people “set out the finest plants and plant imported vines.” They are seeking a rich harvest.
At first, their efforts appear to be fruitful: “[O]n the day you set them out, you make them grow, and on the morning when you plant them, you bring them to bud” (17:11). But then things go awry. The plants do not grow as they had expected. The hoped-for harvest turns out to be “nothing” (17:11). Instead, the people and their vineyards are caught “in the day of disease and incurable pain” (17:11).
Why wasn’t the harvest plentiful? Why did the labor of the people prove to be unfruitful? Isaiah’s answer is clear: “You have forgotten God your Savior… Therefore, though you set out the finest plants… yet the harvest will be as nothing” (17:10-11). When the people forgot God, their labor proved to be in vain. Their plantings failed to bear fruit. Their work produced nothing of value.
This passage from the prophet reminds us that God matters, not just for our personal or religious life, but also for every part of life, including our work. If we want our daily work to be truly and fully fruitful, if we want to reap a rich harvest for our efforts, then we need to remember the Lord. God will bless us, according to his sovereign grace, when we acknowledge him in every part of life, including our daily work.
QUESTIONS TO CONSIDER:
Can you think of times in your life when your neglect of God led to unfortunate consequences?
What helps you to remember God in the midst of your daily work?
How has God blessed your work? (Remember, your work is not only what you do for pay. It includes what you do as a parent or volunteer or helper to your friends, and so much more.)
Gracious God, I confess that there are times when I have forgotten you. It’s not so much that I don’t believe in you, but that I act as if you are not present or concerned. I fail to remember your truth, your justice, your grace, and your mercy. Forgive me, Lord.
Help me, I pray, to remember you at all times, especially in those times when I would be apt to forget you. May I remember you as I work, knowing that you created me as a worker and that through my work I can honor you as well as contribute to your work in the world. As I remember you, Lord, please bless my work, enabling it to be fruitful. Amen.
Explore more at the Theology of Work Project online commentary: The Worth of All Work
Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.
Most people don’t realize what it takes to write a daily devotion. Sometimes we wonder if we make a difference. Thanks for your effort and dedication. It encourages me and starts my every day. The devotions give me spiritual food for thought. Thanks again to everyone who contributes.
Terry, thanks for adding this comment. Your encouragement means a lot to me and my team. Blessings to you! – Mark
Can I just say Amen to that. Your work has just the right balance of challenge and encouragement. Thank you!