Thoughts for the Week -- May 8-14, 2000
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Suffering for the Gospel's Sake
(2 Corinthians 4:5-18)
Why should *I* have to suffer for the Gospel's sake?
If I were to ask you that, what would you answer me? Be sure you tell me
I'm asking the wrong question. Don't forget to point out that I seem to
have the wrong attitude and the wrong perspective. And don't by-pass this
opportunity to ask me why I'm following the Lord in the first place.
By the way, why *are* you following the Lord? (If you aren't, why not?)
Take the occasion of this lesson to review your reasons for choosing the
way of righteousness.
Time for another question: Does your life *prove* you are following the
Lord? I think the first verse in our lesson text gives us at least two
proofs. Let's look at them a bit.
"FOR WE PREACH NOT OURSELVES, BUT CHRIST JESUS THE LORD." The one who
follows the Lord closely and earnestly has no time or zeal for lifting
himself up. His own agenda ceases to exist in preference to pursuing
Christ's interests. Her talk is no longer an effort to impress others with
what she has done or what she would like to do; rather, it is an effort to
make known Jesus and His Gospel.
Maybe that strikes you as too peachy, too unreal, too "holy" or something.
Rest assured that I'm not suggesting the Christian should no longer talk
about anything other than the Gospel and about anyone other than Jesus.
What I'm trying to get across is that the message of my life should no
longer be Mark Roth but Jesus Christ.
"AND OURSELVES YOUR SERVANTS FOR JESUS' SAKE." The follower of Jesus
prefers others above himself. He doesn't mind "being a doormat" if that is
what Jesus calls him to be in order to serve another. After all, who would
object to serving as the Lord's doormat! So you see, the Christian's first
item on the agenda is Jesus; the second item is others. For Jesus' sake.
Never forget that motivator!
Recently I had a friend tell me, "I used to believe the servant theory.
Unfortunately, it only seems to go one way. One side always needs to do the
bending, and the other side being more 'right,' just does their thing. No
reciprocity does a good job of destroying any desire to constantly be the
one doing the bending." This is so true. It is also so tragic! This
perspective ought to make us search our own hearts to discover our real
motives for serving.
For many years the Lord has been trying to teach me that a true servant
cares only about serving and blessing others. The other lesson He must
continually drill me on? Only love can motivate me to serve that way.
If others don't serve, you serve anyway! Don't let the immaturity and lack
of spirituality you perceive in them keep you from maturity and
spirituality. Should *you* disobey just because you see disobedience in
them?! Be *thou* an example of the believers. The solution is *not* to quit
serving, no matter how sensible that may seem.
God uses others to show me the lack in my own heart. When I have come to
the place (which has been often!) of allowing others to destroy my desire
to serve, I have seen my heart again...and noticed that in too many cases I
was not serving out of love. If your spirit of service has flagged or died
because of others, ask God to renew your love. "By love serve one another"
isn't just a theory!
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