Unless the LORD builds the house,Psalm 127:1 NIV
the builders labor in vain.
Unless the LORD watches over the city,
the guards stand watch in vain.
There are a couple of important things that this verse has to say to us. The first thing to note is that God does not need us to accomplish his work in this world. It is the Lord who is building the house and watching over the city. But, as a parent with a young child, he encourages me to come alongside him and help. Not because he needs my help, but because it helps me to develop as his dearly loved child.
I am human, and I enjoy being applauded for what I have done. But it is important for me always to remember that it is the Lord who is building his house. I am his helper, not the craftsman. The credit is his, not mine. While I can take encouragement from the applause, I should always deflect the credit to the one who deserves it.
There is a second important thing to note about this verse. If I attempt to build where the Lord is not already at work, my labor is in vain. God has called me to come alongside him, laboring where he is at work. He has a place for me to serve. And he has equipped me to serve there. If I am faithful to serve where he has called, my labor will be profitable. But if I fail to serve where he has called, or fail to use the gifts he has given, then my work is in vain.