Usefulness and Service

OswaldChambersI know I’ve mentioned before that Steve and I start every day reading from “My Utmost for His Highest” by Oswald Chambers. Next to the Bible, this is the book I’d want with me if I was marooned on a deserted island. And like God’s Word, the timeless truth contained within never gets old, no matter how many consecutive years I have read it from cover to cover.

Oswald died from appendicitis at the young age of 43, while serving as a YMCA chaplain in Egypt during World War I. His wife faithfully transcribed his daily messages given 100 years ago (1911-1915) at a Bible college in England, which make up the devotional book I read today. They are words which convict, encourage, and re-align my perspective.

I will be quiet now and let you read his writing for yourself. Two daily readings in August spoke to our (often faulty) view of our own usefulness and service to Him.

From “The Holy Suffering of the Saint” August 10:

Look at God’s incredible waste of His saints, according to the world’s judgment. God seems to plant His saints in the most useless places. And then we say, “God intends for me to be here because I am so useful to Him.” Yet Jesus never measured His life by how or where He was of the greatest use. God places His saints where they will bring the most glory to Him, and we are totally incapable of judging where that may be.

From “Usefulness or Relationship?” August 30: 

Jesus Christ is saying here, “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” The trap you may fall into in Christian work is to rejoice in successful service— rejoicing in the fact that God has used you. Yet you will never be able to measure fully what God will do through you if you do not have a right-standing relationship with Jesus Christ. If you keep your relationship right with Him, then regardless of your circumstances or whoever you encounter each day, He will continue to pour “rivers of living water” through you (John 7:38). And it is actually by His mercy that He does not let you know it. Once you have the right relationship with God through salvation and sanctification, remember that whatever your circumstances may be, you have been placed in them by God. And God uses the reaction of your life to your circumstances to fulfill His purpose, as long as you continue to “walk in the light as He is in the light” (1 John 1:7).

Our tendency today is to put the emphasis on service. Beware of the people who make their request for help on the basis of someone’s usefulness. If you make usefulness the test, then Jesus Christ was the greatest failure who ever lived. For the saint, direction and guidance come from God Himself, not some measure of that saint’s usefulness. It is the work that God does through us that counts, not what we do for Him. All that our Lord gives His attention to in a person’s life is that person’s relationship with God— something of great value to His Father. Jesus is “bringing many sons to glory . . .” (Hebrews 2:10).




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