When we serve a living God who is so faithful to us, there are two inherent flaws in logic for serving Him to which we might fall prey. As He answers prayer and proves Himself mighty in many unbelievable ways, we may think our actions are bringing on God’s favor. Two errors of logic start to creep in when we look at God’s power in this flawed way. We may be defining miracles entirely differently than God does. And, we might think that we had something to do with it.
As we see others enjoy things come their way, they seem to have His favor. I relate so much to the mother’s request in the Book of Matthew. In Matthew 20, Mary, the wife of Zebedee, had “two sons of thunder,” John and James. When she realized Jesus’s Kingdom was about to manifest itself, she saw an opportunity for her sons to rise to greatness. She asked Jesus, in verse 21-well, she didn’t even ask. Her words to Jesus were, “”Command that in Your kingdom these two sons of mine may sit one on Your right and one on Your left.” She realized they, too, could be great as Jesus came into His power. She probably thought that time would come very soon as she saw Jesus increasing in popularity. Her own sons could then be the two top guys with Jesus. After all, they were with him when he was not famous, and they worked diligently beside Him, serving Him. They deserved this honor, she presumed.
When we serve God, the more we do, the more we risk pride entering the picture. “So, what are you doing to advance the kingdom?” becomes an opener not so much to ask others about their journey with Christ, but to tell others what all we do on His behalf. Self righteousness creeps in, and we think surely we’ll have God’s favor the more we do for Him. There is so much false teaching out there on what the favor of God looks like. Getting a parking space when you pray, getting a job, becoming exalted in your church or in your work for all you do. God does do all of these things. But answered prayer and elevation of position can start to feel like God likes you a little more than your neighbor down the way, or the homeless guy in the street, or the one who seems to have God’s judgment on him all the time.
I have a news flash for those who believe good is defined like this: God’s favor almost always looks different than we might think. There is an inherent error in serving God that the closer we draw to Christ, the more we might feel we have His favor and, consequently, deserve more. God’s promises are different. “Blessed” can look very different on each of us, and certainly different in human eyes than the divine. Jesus tells James and John, “You really don’t know what you are asking. Are you able to drink from this cup (of suffering that I am about to partake)? He then reveals, “…whoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave; just as the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many.”
It has been my personal experience that God has does have good things for us, but those things might not even look good to the average bear. Unmistakably, (as bad as it feels at times) it is a privilege to suffer, to do without, to be a servant, to welcome a lower, behind-the-scenes position whenever possible. From the least to the highest, we are called to serve Him with humility and meekness, and to expect suffering. To be certain, God’s favor is a blessing, and He offers it without reserve to each of us. His presence is His promise. Joshua 1:5 “I will never leave you or forsake you.” Isaiah 43:2 “When you pass through the waters, I will be with you; and when you pass through the rivers, they will not sweep over you. When you walk through the fire, you will not be burned; the flames will not set you ablaze.” Our promises are not for ease or a comfortable life, or for position or power. They simply are promises that are better than any “thing” we might need here on earth. All we need is Him.
Makes me also remember Job whose friends said, “Surely, you must have sinner to bring this on,” etc. Not necessarily so. Thanks for the perspective enhancer!
Oops… HE DOES NOT SHOW FAVORITISM… Praise God!
Oh, I loved this post today! It’s easy to think we have one up on others around us because we know we are chosen. May we humbly serve Him and remember that He is so much BIGGER than we can ever comprehend. I’m praying for no pride until He calls us home and I’m so thankful that He does now show favoritism! Thanks for sharing a great Word!
The promise of being with us THROUGH the fire and THROUGH the water has been a verse that I have been claiming for years and He has always been faithful and true to His Word. Thanks for this post. Bless you for sharing your heart.
It is funny that this is what was on your heart because I was pondering this same topic last evening. I had a discussion with my beloved on protection of our family and the words of others towards our family. You ask how do this relates….. Let me explain.. See there are some in Samuel’s family who believe that the favor of the Lord is on them, because they are doing well financially, have good jobs, and have big homes. It has been said to us- that we are being “punished” or “being taught a lesson” because Samuel was laid off again(in Oct of 2007) and stayed without a job till we moved to Texas. It has always been said that “we need to change our lives” which means ignore our convictions of homeschooling, my husband ignore his convictions that he should be the sole provider and I am to be the keeper of the home. We understood what we were doing, and the sacrifice we would be making when we decided to live on one income. What we never anticipated was how difficult it would be for Sam to keep in job in construction. Companies go under and down size all the time because of the lack of money/capital.
Yes I do believe the Lord has us here for a reason, but the reason is beyond anything we can think of or understand. It is not for financial gain- it is always for spiritual gain, and to further HIS kingdom. Which is why I have come to place that I need to be content.
It is funny how the Lord leads us- to the same place sometimes!
You know I pondered on this topic (not exactly these scriptures) as I read our chronological reading in Daniel this morning. Daniel didnt fret about the outcome (or it doesnt disclose his fretting and anxiety in the Bible). He went into the lions den and came out victorious. He suffered from wrongful accusations, but the Lord vindicated him. He suffered and lived his whole life in captivity in Babylon. Then I went over to 2 Timothy 2:3, “Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus.” We’re to endure hardships.
Sarah Palin testified in her speech last night at the RNC that she did not accept the luxuries offered with the office of governor. She wants to eliminate wasteful spending. What a good example to all of us…a servant’s heart. Like Jesus, came to serve, not be served. How different this world would be if we all carried that attitude. I’m praying for that attitude in me. I pray that I grab hold of the Word of God and live it by the grace and power from the Holy Spirit.
Very good post. Sorry my comment got so long. I’ve had computer withdrawal symptoms as I’ve had trouble with mine. As I tried to troubleshoot and fix my own problems, it stopped. I hope and pray the computer guy can save it. I’m using my son’s computer. (And I like it better, I wonder if he’ll swap me?)
I hope you’re having a blessed day.
Love and blessings-
Looking at God with the human eye can cause flawed vision on occasion. Thankfully with His word and the power of the Holy Spirit, we can see Him clearly…until the human factor creeps in…