“For it is to me that the people of Israel are servants. They are my servants whom I brought out of the land of Egypt: I am the Lord your God.” Leviticus 25:55
Our western culture is at war with our faith. Living in America makes serving others really difficult. We are taught from an early age that we live in the land of opportunity (and we do). As young people, most are encouraged to “follow your dreams” (and many do). Here is another one: “Reach for the stars!” While these statements are each motivating, exciting and sound really good, there is a problem, and it’s a big one: they aren’t the Gospel.
In the verse above, God was laying out a new idea, so contrary to the fallen spirit of mankind, He would need to repeat it over and over throughout His instructions to us for daily living. Here is the central theme: He says, “Serve Me . . . No one else, especially not yourself.”
Even as I write this, there is something that still bristles within me. The culture in which I live and my own brokenness support the idea that I am the center of the universe. It is all about my ideas, my hope, my needs, my dreams, my ambition, my life, my goals. After all, I am the way and the truth. Me first.
See the problem? I am beginning to understand why we call it blind ambition.
Most people step into God’s wisdom only after personal failure born in the shadows of ignoring it.
That’s how I began to understand it. Working late, working hard, sacrificing my health, ignoring time with my family, loosing friends, always, “Just one more project, and then they’ll see. Just one more thing, and then I’m done.”
In this endless cycle, they didn’t ever see, and I wasn’t ever done. They never do, and we never are.
It is a lie.
It took a few crash landings with that approach, and I began to recognize that I am not only commanded to serve God and others before myself, I am designed for it. Working for my ideas, my dreams, my comfort alone is a constant struggle against reality.
And God won’t have it or get behind it. But He would have us for Himself and support us in a life lived for Him.
The central lie in self-centeredness is that serving God, His purposes, His timing, His way is always going to short-change our satisfaction and needs. So, we need to, “Watch out for number one.”
I am learning, however, just the opposite. I am learning that being in step with the Holy Spirit is like living with an ever-faithful, always true, internal compass. We were designed from creation to be in a dependent relationship with God, where He sets the pace and destination of our journey. Human fulfillment finds its place in divine dependence. After all, when this life is over, we will be in complete dependence upon Him for our eternal existence in a land we have never seen or travelled in, a land made for eternal and perfect beings, united in grace and peace with the Eternal and Perfect One who sustains it all.
Now is the time to learn and live this.
I pray that God may lift our vision past the deadly and exhausting, fruitless quest to secure the approval of people, past the building and leaving of legacies remembered only in libraries and on tombstones, lift our aspiration to seek only from Him, “Well done, good and faithful servant. . . ”
I’m listening for that. There’s good work to be done.
“Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.” Colossians 3:23-24