The Next Level
For it is God who works in you, both to will and to work for his good pleasure.(Philippians 2:13)
Have you ever said something like, “Lord if You will just tell me what You want me to do, I will serve You to the best of my ability”? If God we’re to put you in that kind of assignment, could He trust you to handle it? Are you ready to go to the next level of faith in God?
On the night before Jesus’ crucifixion, Peter said to the Lord, “I’m ready to go with both to prison and to death!” In response, Jesus warned him, “The rooster will not crow today until you deny three times that you know Me!”( Luke 22:33-34) God also knows the exact limits of your faith. He knows what you can handle.
Our own hearts can deceive us (Jeremiah 17:9). We can often have a higher estimate of our faithfulness and trust in God than we should. God is never fooled. He always matches His assignments with our character and faith in Him. So trust Him. Don’t insist that God put you in a position you think you should have. Don’t strive to gain a position you think you deserve or can handle. That could lead to your ruin. You might inadvertently manipulate yourself right into a position or responsibility that is beyond what your character can manage. Rather, trust Him and obey wholeheartedly where He has put you, and watch to see where He leads you next. Remember, God is far more interested in accomplishing His kingdom purposes than you are. He will move you into every assignment He knows your are ready to take on. Let God orient you to Himself. Be patient and wait. Let God use times of waiting to mold and shape your character. Let Him purify your life and make you into a clean vessel for His service.
As you obey Him, God will prepare you for the assignment that is just right for you.
Henry and Richard Blackaby
In the parable of the talents, Jesus tells us that there are different levels of ability that individuals have. This is not to say that we are not equally children of God or equally important or equally loved. But it is to say that not all of us qualify for every assignment in the kingdom of God. In the parable Jesus says the Master gave to one five talents, to another two and to the third only one. In the accounting, each are only accountable for their stewardship of what they had been given. In other words, the one who received one was not held to the same standard as the one who had received five, but he was held accountable for that one. In our striving to make sure that everyone feels part of and important, rightfully so, we often err by assigning individuals to tasks far beyond their capacity and in our well-intentioned effort set them up for failure. The two-talent person simply cannot manage five talents. They may do well with their two as we see in the story but would fail if they were given the responsibility of five. Each of us are fearfully and wonderfully made and each of us are fully and equally loved by God, but each of us have been designed to fit into the complete plan of God. There will always be large, visible parts of the mechanism of the kingdom. But that doesn’t mean that the small, hidden parts aren’t critical. In the words of an old poem:
For want of a nail a shoe was lost,
For want of a shoe a horse was lost,
For want of a horse a rider was lost,
For want of a rider a battle was lost..
So we can see that a small nail had a powerful impact on the outcome. We as Christians must move beyond the striving of the world to attain position and power. This is an antithesis to the very kingdom of God. We strive not for position or power but to become servants. This is the whole principle of the Last Supper.
“But the greatest among you will be your servant. 12 Whoever exalts himself shall be humbled; and whoever humbles himself shall be raised to honor.”
In the story of King Saul, we see a man who was called by God to lead. As we read his story we find that little by little, keeping the position was more important than obeying God. We read that not only did Saul want to be king and was willing to murder anyone who he saw as a threat(David), but we read he attempted to expand the power of his position by taking on the role reserved for the priest in the offering of the sacrifice. We find him believing that he could make his own decisions even if they were contrary to the revealed instructions of God. In other words, he believed he knew what was best for the people of God. In all his striving to keep position and power, he lost it all including his relationship with God. In the words of Jesus, he exchanged his soul for a brief moment of power and position.
David was the opposite of this. Please note that doesn’t mean he was perfect. Like all of us he had flaws. David comes to the battle and in that moment is used by God to slay Goliath. The words David uses are significant. “The battle,” he says, “is the Lord’s”. As the people praise him and honor him saying, “Saul has slain thousands but David his ten thousands”, David just returns home and continues to take care of his father’s sheep. When Samuel comes and anoints David to be king, he doesn’t rush to the palace to seize control but when summoned to play the harp for Saul, he does so. Here we have someone who’s been anointed king serving the seated king. Even when Saul pursues David and David holds Saul’s life in his hands, he doesn’t act to create a vacancy. When he cuts off a piece of Saul’s robe, his heart convicts him and he speaks these words:
“David’s men said to him, “Behold, this is the day of which the Lord said to you, ‘Behold, I will hand over your enemy to you, and you shall do to him as seems good to you.’” Then David arose [in the darkness] and stealthily cut off the hem (edge) of Saul’s robe. Afterward, David’s conscience bothered him because he had cut off the hem of Saul’s robe. He said to his men, “The Lord forbid that I should do this thing to my master, the Lord’s anointed, to put out my hand against him, since he is the anointed of the Lord.” So David strongly rebuked his men with these words and did not let them rise up against Saul. Saul got up, left the cave and went on his way.”
1 Samuel 24:4-7
Later when Saul died, David again did not seek to be installed as king. Though God had made it known to David, he waited until God moved him to the position. I call this the reluctant leader. Those whom God uses best are those who reluctantly lead. They lead only because they are compelled to do so by God. They wait for God and others to put them into position. They do not strive or work for it, they wait and trust that God who orders the kingdom will place them where He knows they function best.
We are not as those in the world, we do not seek to be elevated. We do not seek position or power but we see obedience and service. We do not care to be served but to serve. We do not strive for recognition but we strive for pleasing God so we may hear Him say, “Well done, good and faith servant..”
As a mechanic who has worked on a lot and variety of machinery over the years, I know that while the large, noticeable parts are important, it’s often the small unnoticed part whose failure causes the most damage. So if we feel we’re one of those small insignificant parts and we don’t get the recognition or position we feel we deserve, let us be aware that it’s imperative that we function where God has placed us at this time and that even the smallest contribution to the kingdom is significant to the success of it. Let us wait until the master builder puts us into our proper place and let us remember that the nail is just as important as the door.
Dr. John Thompson