Sunday Leftovers (10/4/09)

One of the reasons that we are prone to discouragement in ministry (and in life) is because we quietly believe that success is dependent on ourselves.  There is a subtle temptation to voice in the inner recesses of our hearts, “I am everything and Christ is neither adequate nor necessary.”  Now, few would give voice to those thoughts, but the way in which we too often conduct ourselves gives evidence to those whispers really being in control of our minds and hearts.

And that, my friends, is a form of pride.  We become discouraged in ministry because our pride says that we are responsible (and capable) for all, and then reality demonstrates that we are incapable.

John Owen has said regarding humility, “There are two things that are suited to humble the souls of men…A due consideration of God, and then of ourselves.  Of God, in his greatness, glory, holiness, power, majesty and authority; of ourselves, in our mean, abject and sinful condition.”

In other words, when we tend toward pride, we need an accurate consideration of the infinite chasm between the greatness of God and the weakness of ourselves.

That also is the resolution to our discouragement.  We need a clear picture of the sovereign, gracious, omnipotent, and wise workings of God to understand His sufficiency for our every need — including what He equips and makes us adequate to do.

To that end, a statement that has been so helpful to me for many years is the simple acknowledgment, “God does not call us to be ‘successful;’ He does call us to be faithful.”

God is responsible for the given “success” of any and every venture.  And He equips His people to accomplish what He has ordered.  Our responsibility is not to override His decree with our desires, but to be faithfully obedient to carry out that which He has called and equipped us to do.  And when we make faithfulness our object instead of “success,” then we will not only be liberated from pride, but we will also be liberated from discouragement.

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