This world is filled with people trying to make it in this life without God. Some physically work themselves to the point of death in an effort to live comfortably when they retire. Others put on a front that leads many to believe they have prospered and now have everything they need. A great number will spend their whole life attempting to succeed by getting others to do their work for them, or by getting them to give them something for nothing in return. Even some of the most religious do all kinds of ‘works,’ trying to make themselves morally and spiritually right with God.
Sadly, all of these methods, however good and beneficial that they be in themselves, are not sufficient when life ends. The wisest and richest person in history, King Solomon, sums it up well: “Vanity of vanities…all is vanity. What profit hath a man of all his labour which he taketh under the sun?” (Ecclesiastes 1:2, 3) God firmly stated that, “Except the Lord build the house, they labor in vain that build it” (Psalm 127:1 emphasis mine).
True, many do prosper in one way or another in this life, according to the world’s standards, but when it comes to eternity, no effort of our own can bring success with God. If God is not first in our lives, then all of our efforts are in vain.
“God is a Spirit: and they that worship him must worship him in spirit and in truth” (John 4:24). We are sinful physical beings and God is a holy, sinless Spirit. We are on the ‘bad’ side from the start and cannot ever reach the ‘good’ side by our own means and strength. No matter how much we labor and manage to have some success, we will not ‘build the house’ without God. Instead, we fill our lives with worry and anxiety each morning and night about what our immediate and distant future holds—and all in vain—because God is not in it.
Real success lies in Jesus, the One who overcame sin and death through His sacrifice on the cross. He made it possible that, by total trust and belief in Him, we can have the same victory over sin as He did. We now can worship God “in spirit and truth,” because Jesus is the truth. When we put Jesus first in our life through placing our faith in Him and His finished work on the cross, we are able to have real success. We no longer need “to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows” (Psalm 127:2). When we fully obey God and depend on Him, “He giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:2).
“Except the Lord build the house, they labour in vain that build it: except the Lord keep the city, the watchman waketh but in vain. It is vain for you to rise up early, to sit up late, to eat the bread of sorrows: for so he giveth his beloved sleep” (Psalm 127:1-2). Let “the Lord build the house” and “keep the city,” or our efforts will all be in vain.