Look at me, God!
“All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God’s authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you–that’s the agenda for rejoicing.” – Luke 10:20 MSG
I love this story. It is so typical of how we respond to God as we “perform” for Him. We get so proud of our efforts on His behalf. Like the disciples, we come back all excited about the power we have demonstrated. “Lord, even the demons obey us when we use your name!” (Luke 10:17 NLT). The disciples are pumped. No longer relegated to the role of spectators in Jesus’ earthly ministry, they are now the stars. So they come back excited and proud, “Look at us go! Aren’t we doing some really fantastic things for you God? Aren’t You proud of us? What would you do without us?”
Yet Jesus responds to them in a very interesting way. He says, “don’t rejoice because evil spirits obey you; rejoice because your names are registered in heaven.” (Luke 10:20 NLT). This all had very little to with what the disciples had just done, but it had everything to do with what Jesus was going to accomplish not too long into the future. We have a tendency to believe our own press clippings, and to begin to think that we are far more important to this endeavor than we really are. In fact, we tend to want to make ourselves the stars of God’s redemptive story. But there is only one star and that is Jesus Himself. He is far less interested in what we can do for Him than what we think about what He has already done for us.
In his classic devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, “Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?”
We should rejoice that what Jesus has done makes it possible for our names to be written in heaven. We have permanent, irrevocable reservations there. Not because of anything we have done or will do, but because of what He has done on our behalf. You see this illustrated so clearly in Jesus encounter with the two sisters later on in this same chapter. He arrives in Bethany, a small village just about two miles outside the city gates of Jerusalem. He is welcomed into the home of Mary and Martha, the sisters of Lazarus, the man Jesus will raise from dead later on in His ministry. As Jesus and His disciples rest in their home, Martha busies herself with preparations for a big dinner on their behalf. Meanwhile, Mary, her sister sat quietly at the Lord’s feet, listening to Him teach. Martha, all hot and bothered by the inequity of it all, complains to Jesus about her sister’s laziness and demands that Jesus tell her to get to work. But again, Jesus’ response is unexpected and surprising. He simply says, “My dear Martha, you are worried and upset over all these details. There is only one thing worthy being concerned about. Mary has discovered it, and it will not be taken away from her” (Luke 10:41 NLT). In all her efforts to do something for Jesus, Martha was missing the opportunity to be ministered to by Jesus. It had become about her. Her efforts. Her meal. Her housekeeping. Her culinary skills. Her hospitality. And there is nothing wrong with any of that. But she was missing the fact that Jesus, the Messiah, was in her home.
Listen again to what Oswald Chambers said: “The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him.” Don’t let your efforts for Jesus rob you of the joy of knowing Him. Don’t let yourself be deceived into thinking what you do in His name is somehow more important that what He has done on Your behalf. Time spent with Jesus must always take precedence over work done for Jesus. Otherwise we risk doing our work in our own strength and for our own glory.
Father, thank You that my name is written in heaven. And it is not because of anything I have done or will do. Otherwise, it wouldn’t be there at all. It is simply because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross as my sin substitute. Forgive for the many times I put far too much value in my accomplishments for You. Forgive me for trying to serve You more than worship You. Amen.
Grow Pastor & Minister to Men