Our “Compelling” Assignments; The Temptation of Pride
In the Lord of the Rings, Frodo had delivered the evil Ring to Rivendale and was hoping his mission was complete: “We did what we set out to do,” proclaimed Frodo. “I am ready to go home.” Frodo then realized his call, the burden of carrying the Ring, was not yet over. The battles ahead to accomplish his mission became even more intense. As he sat pondering his fate, Frodo lamented to Gandolf, “I wish the ring had never come to me. I wish none of this had happened.”
Gandolf responded, “So do all who live to see such times, but that is not for them to decide. All we have to decide is what to do with the time given to us.”
Every brother will be given a unique assignment in this Great War. And it’s not for us to decide. Our King knows the unique gifts he has given to us and how he wants to utilize them in the war. “As it is, we see that God has carefully placed each part of the body right where he wanted it.” (1 Cor. 12, Msge) Once you truly surrender to our King, God will not allow you just sit back and be comfortable. As you grow in Christ, you will want to engage in this War – tasks that do not fall within God’s priorities will begin to feel more meaningless. At times, we will try to run, but there is one thing with which you can be sure – our King’s pursuit of His chosen children is relentless! He has been described as the “hound of heaven.” You will feel compelled to follow his purposes, because “you do not belong to yourself, for God bought you with a high price.” (1 Cor. 6:19-20)
Paul understood this when he said, “preaching the Good News is not something I can boast about. I am compelled by God to do it.” (1 Cor. 9:16) Even Jesus felt compelled to prepare for his mission. After Jesus was baptized and he heard his Father’s affirmation, “immediately the Holy Spirit compelled Jesus to go into the wilderness.” (Mark 1:12) Feeling compelled is really a wonderful thing – it’s purposeful. It’s something you want to do, but often will feel very difficult, crazy, and almost always overwhelming. If you are curious about God’s will or direction for your life or vocation, ask the question, “Do I feel compelled?” But even as we feel compelled, there will be much waiting on God’s perfect timing.
As stated by Oswald Chambers, “All of God’s people are ordinary people who have been made extraordinary by the purpose He has given them.” (Oct. 25) Any brother of our King certainly has a grand, noble, and royal call that is orchestrated by our good and powerful Savior. At times, the deeds God will accomplish through us will make us feel incredibly anointed and powerful – which is true. As Jesus said, “The truth is, anyone who believes in me will do the same works I have done, and even greater works….” (John 14:12 NLT) Wow! Doesn’t that seem amazing? While our King walked the earth, he healed the sick, multiplied fish and bread in baskets, cast out demons, and even raised the dead. Other disciples also were used to accomplish some miraculous feats. Jesus once sent out his twelve disciples with this mission: “Heal the sick, raise the dead, cure those with leprosy, and cast out demons. Give as freely as you have received!” (Matt. 10:8) In this generation, as God allows us to be a part of some amazing works, we must remember that our powerful gifts “all originate in God’s Spirit.” (1 Cor. 12. Msg) God is the one doing these powerful miracles. He is using us a His instruments.
Needless to say, Jesus will use His brothers in this generation of this Great War to accomplish amazing works. This is hard to comprehend, but that’s His plan. During those moments when God uses us for great victories, our greatest adversary will be the temptation of pride. As we witness some amazing works accomplished through us – of course we will get excited. Our response should be to fall on our knees. But the sin of pride is the great nuclear warhead in this battle. It’s the last great assault of the Enemy – it is all Satan has left, but it is his greatest weapon. Pride took out the most powerful angel Lucifer; it took out Adam and Eve; and it can take us out. “The Devil will use that pride to make him fall.” (1 Tim. 3:6 NLT) Pride in ourselves can quickly render us useless to our King – for “the Lord despises pride. Pride goes before destruction, and haughtiness before a fall.” (Prvbs. 16:5, 18)
So how does God keep us from falling into pride? By examining the lives of His disciples in scripture – we learn that often times God uses suffering! That’s why Paul finally accepted his thorn and considered suffering “pure joy.” Without the “wounds and scars,” the heroic stories of the early disciples would not be told today. Without the revelations and insights and the resulting humility one embraces through suffering, the disciples would have attempted to honor themselves rather than our King. Scripture teaches that the life of a true disciple is a life of suffering. Although the heros of the faith suffered, not one of them who finished well would trade their legacy with anyone. No one can demand or take their own true glory – which is the goal of pride. But for those who finish well, God chooses to bestow it!
At times God will need to work on our pride, but at other times we will feel trampled, unworthy, and defeated. The assignments from our King at times will feel like a great burden. No one in the middle of the ravages of war wants “the burden of the Ring.” Even Jesus lamented, “I am under a heavy burden until [my mission] is accomplished.” (Luke 13:49) He pleaded with God to take away his “cup of suffering” – his burden. During these times we will need to embrace the power that resides in us, because “now we are united with [Jesus] who was raised from the dead.” (Rom. 7:4) We can always approach God as a child and rest in His arms. Faith and hope will be our greatest allies. We will want our brothers during these moments to pick us up, wipe off the sweat and blood, mend our wounds, and remind us of our Chirst-like identity and purpose. As Paul stated, “That is why we never give up. Though our bodies are dying, our spirits are being renewed every day.” (2 Cor. 4:19) During these intense battles it will do us well to trust in our King’s goodness and to dream about the great celebration that is waiting for us. Don’t quit, because “I am sure that God, who began the good work within you, will continue his work until it is finally finished…” (Phil. 1:6)
Doesn’t it feel like walking a razor-thin tightrope between recognizing our name and identity, being obedient to our mission, desiring rewards and honor for faithful service – without falling into the death-grip of pride? It is! However, these two realities are designed to co-exist: “So humble yourselves under the mighty power of God, and in His good time He will honor you.” (1 Pet. 5:6) So we must rely on “the mighty power of God” to rescue us from this seemingly “mission impossible.” But remember, this seemingly “foolish plan of God is far wiser than the wisest of human plans.” (1 Cor. 1:25)