People who love and serve God in the power of the Holy Spirit through the sacrifice of Jesus Christ work to discover their God-given purposes and steward His gifts to them, in much the same way as Elisha pushed his plow. They embody this truth: “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ” (Colossians 3:23–24 ESV).
Such pushers of the plow know that not only do they persevere for the mantle of promotion awaiting them but also to reveal God’s power in their lives. When we obediently and diligently serve without putting the focus on our own abilities, we let others glimpse the Lord working through us. We honor God by keeping our commitment to push our plows the same way we try to live our lives, for His glory. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God” (1 Corinthians 10:31 ESV).
Many Millennials and members of Gen Z struggle with pushing their plows because they have been conditioned by overnight YouTube sensations and viral memes that turn their peers into social media celebrities. They are bright, talented, passionate, and willing to work. But they are wary of wasting time and energy on any endeavor not promising guaranteed results. Members of our younger generations struggle to value diligence and devotion as virtues in their own right, and perhaps with good reason. Many of them are critical of the kind of corporate greed and capitalistic profiteering they have witnessed in their world.
This observation reminds us that the value of hard work must be determined not only by the plow-pusher’s motivation but also by the results that such an investment of labor will produce. Without Spirit-led motives that seek to fulfill God-given dreams, our efforts are wasted. When greed causes us to push our plows for more, any harvest we reap will never be enough. Jesus made this clear in a parable about a wealthy plower whose work focused only on more for himself rather than for God and others:
And He told them this parable:
“The ground of a certain rich man yielded an abundant harvest. He thought to himself, ‘What shall I do? I have no place to store my crops.’ Then he said, ‘This is what I’ll do. I will tear down my barns and build bigger ones, and there I will store my surplus grain. And I’ll say to myself, “You have plenty of grain laid up for many years. Take life easy; eat, drink and be merry.”’ But God said to him, ‘You fool! This very night your life will be demanded from you. Then who will get what you have prepared for yourself?’ This is how it will be with whoever stores up things for themselves but is not rich toward God.”
Clearly, building bigger barns or renting more storage units is not the answer! The motive behind our willingness to push our plows each day matters, but it must be coupled with a meaningful goal. Christ told us, “Do not work for food that spoils, but for food that endures to eternal life, which the Son of Man will give you. For on Him, God the Father has placed his seal of approval” (John 6:27).
As we assess the plows we are pushing, we must ask ourselves about both the motivation and the end result: Why are we doing the work we are doing? For whom? For what goals or results? Even criminals and terrorists work hard to fulfill their schemes, but their motivations—greed, power, vengeance—and their accomplishments—theft, murder, espionage—lead only to that which spoils.
The kind of plow-pushing that leads to mantles of promotion can have only one motivation: love, gratitude, and trust in the living and almighty God. For children of God and followers of Jesus, our motivation originates in the relationship we have with our heavenly Father. Knowing that God sacrificed His only Son, and that Jesus gave His life for our sins, and that the Holy Spirit dwells within us, we discover only one worthy response for such gifts: Our goal becomes a desire to give everything we are and everything we have in return.
Chosen Books, a division of Baker Publishing Group, Persevere with Power by Samuel Rodriguez, 2021, Used by permission.
Rev. Samuel Rodriguez is president of the National Hispanic Christian Leadership Conference, executive producer of “Breakthrough” with 20th Century Fox and author of “From Survive to Thrive: Live a Holy, Healed, Healthy, Happy, Humble, Hungry, and Honoring Life” (Charisma House Publishing), a best-seller on Amazon. CNN and FOX News have called him “the leader of the Hispanic Evangelical movement” and TIME magazine nominated him among the 100 most influential leaders in America.