The apparent success of the wicked and the seeming triumph of evil may lead us to ask questions about God and about the investment of our lives. We may not verbalize these questions; nevertheless there are real questions that arise.
Have you ever asked these questions? Does it pay to do the right thing? Does living for Christ really matter? Does it really matter what I invest my life in as long as I’m happy doing it?
In Habakkuk 2:12-13 the prophet, as he addresses ancient Babylon, indirectly speaks to these questions. We could summarize those questions in this way: What determines the true value of my life’s work? These verses suggest a couple of things to keep in mind when evaluating the true value of one’s life’s work.
First of all, present success or failure does not measure the true value of one’s life’s work. The ancient Babylonians built a successful empire. Through their ruthlessness and greed they conquered the nations around them. The splendor of their kingdom was world-renowned. They even boasted one of the alleged Seven Wonders of the World – the Hanging Gardens of Nebuchadnezzar. Babylon did what was necessary in order to succeed. There was no life so precious that it couldn’t be sacrificed on the altar of success and no law so righteous that it couldn’t be broken, if breaking that law brought about success. Babylon succeeded! But, did she really?
God has only one word for those who achieve success in this manner – WOE! God has decreed judgment on those who simply measure the value of a life’s work by its apparent success.
The death of Jesus Christ on the cross may be viewed as a colossal failure from a human perspective. However, from God’s perspective, that failure is the investment of a life that brings the greatest and the longest return – eternal life.
A second thing to keep in mind when evaluating the true worth of one’s life’s work is this: Only God determines the value of one’s work and energy. Verse 13 says, Has not the LORD Almighty determined that the people’s labor is only fuel for the fire, that the nations exhaust themselves for nothing?
We may work productively and be exhausted from all the energy we’ve expended! For what purpose – to what end? At the end of the day, or the week, or the month or year, or at the end of your life, how do you determine the true worth of your life’s work?
For Babylon the determination was clear. All that which their labor produced served only to fuel the fire. All of their energy, and time, and resources were finally measured as nothing. Historically, the Hanging Gardens were so completely destroyed that some even question whether they ever existed.
Would you consciously invest your life in what you knew to be a worthless enterprise? I doubt it! Suppose I said this to you: “I need you to help me with something. Would you please go to the supermarket and stand in the aisle for 20 minutes? Wouldn’t your first question be “WHY?” Don’t you find it unusual that you should ask “why” about a 20-minute investment of your life, when you may not have done the same with the entire scope of your life?
Someone has aptly said, “Only one life will soon be past; only what’s done for Christ will last.” At the end, what will your Creator-Redeemer say about the value of your life’s work?