Thursday, October 26, 2017

Effective Service

So I heard myself pray, "God, please keep me lowly of heart and effective..... Is that possible?"

I said it again and realized the lie. It's as if  one negates the other--humility and effectiveness. "Really?" I asked. "Yes," I answered. How often we think that that to do something well we need to be "at the top of our game," "locked and loaded," "ready for bear" when God says something entirely different.

Jesus is our example and He was most effective when He thought of others as more important than Himself. He was successful when He did not look out for His own interests, when He looked to the interests of others, when He did not seek His station or equality, when He emptied Himself, took the form of a bondservant, took on a lowly appearance, and became obedient to the point of death on the cross (Phil. 2:3-8).

The lie, then, is that I have to "be someone" to be used; that others must see me as important, respected, and worth their time. The opposite, in God's kingdom, is true.

Do I consider others more important than myself? Do I let them go first in traffic? Hold doors open? Adjust my schedule and preferences for theirs?

How often do I consider another's interests? Priorities? Likes and dislikes?

Do I ever take the last place? Put myself behind others in conversation, seating, or decision- making?

How willing am I to give up my rights? To yield to others, be flexible, and seek peace at my expense?

Am I content with a lowly appearance? Or do I need to impress others? Look better than? Younger than? More attractive than?

And am I obedient to God regardless of the cost? Or do I, like Cain, argue that God is too demanding, too harsh, too unkind? (Gen. 1:13)

In and through it all is the realization that a) it's not about me, it's about God's praise and glory and b) I am not serving God--He is serving me. Any act of service, any kindness, or gift is done through His enabling. God cannot be served by human hands. There is nothing we have to offer that He will accept. But Jesus. Jesus came to serve--and He continues to serve by His Spirit, through His people, empowering us with His Word. God will accept the work of Jesus Christ. It is all we have to offer--ourselves in Christ.

The right prayer, then, is, "God, please help me recognize my rightful place; to be lowly of heart and, as you see fit, fruitful in your service."

The God who made the world and all things in it, since He is Lord of heaven and earth, does not dwell in temples made with hands; nor is He served by human hands, as though He needed anything, since He Himself gives to all people life and breath and all things; and He made from one man every nation of mankind to live on all the face of the earth, having determined their appointed times and the boundaries of their habitation, that they would seek God, if perhaps they might grope for Him and find Him, though He is not far from each one of us; for in Him we live and move and exist... (Acts 17:24-28 NASB)

"For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)

[Jesus said], "Abide in Me, and I in you. As the branch cannot bear fruit of itself unless it abides in the vine, so neither can you unless you abide in Me. I am the vine, you are the branches; he who abides in Me and I in him, he bears much fruit, for apart from Me you can do nothing." (John 15:4-5) 

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