What drives you, what is your purpose, what is your reason for life?
What is your first thought when you wake up in the morning? What motivates you to slide your finger across the alarm app on your phone, shutting it off, roll out of bed and stumble to the kitchen for a cup of coffee? Why do you bother taking a shower, getting dressed, doing your hair? Why clean the house, do your chores?
What is your driving force?
I have always said that my goal and aim is to glorify God, advance His Kingdom, and share His good news with my life. That sounds about right, it's the way that all Christians should be able to respond, right? If Jesus Christ has saved us from our sin, and our future is to reign for eternity with Him in heaven, we should be overflowing with joy, wanting to spend every waking hour to tell others about Him, right? Absolutely. But when you dig down deep-- way deep, is that really what drives you-- personally?
Is your goal not only that He would increase, but also that you would decrease?
A couple of weeks ago, I heard this in the sermon at church. The sermon was about examining yourself in the faith-- and one of the points was: is our heart's desire that He would increase, and we would decrease?
This hit me between the eyes. I'd heard it a thousand times, but at that moment I felt like the wind was knocked out of me. The concept of my blog is surrender to Jesus, all I've ever said was I want whatever I do to be done to bring glory to God and to make His name known. But when I heard those words a couple of weeks ago, it cut me deeply-- I realized that I had a root of selfishness that had sprung up that I hadn't noticed long ago, and had failed to dig up when it started. I realized that in my quest to glorify God, I didn't mind that in the course of doing "great things" that I would get some accolades too. I thought that I was totally surrendered, and maybe I was in the beginning, but then satan crept in while I wasn't looking and sowed seeds of selfishness. Instead of being totally sold out for Jesus, and willing to do anything for Him that He might increase and I might decrease, I, albeit unconsciously, was only interested in doing the stuff in which He would increase, and I could increase too.
I woke up in the morning thinking, "Let's do this thing!" I was ready to tackle the world for Jesus, write inspiring blog posts, give talks, organize revivals, perform concerts and minister to soul-searching teens, proclaim His name from the housetops, climb the highest mountain for Him, swim the deepest ocean! But singing at nursing homes and baking bread for the Farmer's Market, things that God was giving me to do-- seemed dull, boring, monotonous to me. Worse, I was afraid that I would have to do those things for the rest of my life. I didn't want to sing at nursing homes-- the people there can barely even hear me, how can they appreciate what I'm doing anyway? Wouldn't my time be better spent ministering to people that can understand me? I didn't want to make bread for the rest of my life-- is that all I'm good for, making bread? It sounds like something anybody could do, don't I have better talents than that to glorify God? I excused my selfishness with my "desire" to glorify God. It grieves me now to think of it.
Sure, I was looking for Him to increase. But I wasn't looking for me to decrease. I wanted to be known, too. This is an inherent weakness of humans, we want to feel worth something. We want to feel needed, to have a purpose, and we like to hear it from as many people as possible. I oftentimes find myself seeking the approval of man because I feel like I'll find the approval of God within it. I had come to seek my parents' approval for what I did, thinking that by keeping them happy, I was pleasing God. I had allowed it to become an end, instead of a byproduct of my desire to please God in my honor to my parents. I wanted my parents to tell me what a great job I was doing, and how proud they were of me, instead of being content with the fact that God loves me, and He is pleased with me.
This is a lack of trust in God. He has already told me that He loves me, that He wants me, but I'm too scared to let go and to be content in Him. I want everybody to be happy with me, and to tell me that I'm worth something.
Jesus is the prime example. God's beloved Son. God proclaimed His love for Jesus publicly at Jesus' baptism. Jesus knew that He was loved by His father-- He did not need the love of men. "...although He existed in the form of God, did not regard equality with God a thing to be grasped, but emptied Himself, taking the form of a bond-servant, and being made in the likeness of men. Being found in appearance as a man, He humbled Himself by becoming obedient to the point of death, even death on a cross." (Philippians 2:6-8) Jesus, God in the flesh, the only man to have ever walked the face of the earth to have deserved glory, not only endured the undue punishment, the physical excruciating pain of the cross, but He was shamed in the process. Naked, hanging upon a tree, cursed of His Father, shamed by men, Jesus sacrificed everything, His body, His dignity, His spirit-- for the love of His Father, that He might be increased, that His plan might come to fruition, that you might be saved.
"Therefore, since we have so great a cloud of witnesses surrounding us, let us also lay aside every encumbrance and the sin which so easily entangles us, and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the author and perfecter of faith, who for the joy set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." (Hebrews 12:1-2)
"...So this joy of mine has been made full. He must increase, but I must decrease." (John 3:30)
"Therefore, I urge you, brothers and sisters, in view of God’s mercy, to offer your bodies as a living sacrifice, holy and pleasing to God—this is your true and proper worship. Do not conform to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is—his good, pleasing and perfect will." (Romans 12:1-2)
"Have this attitude in yourselves which was also in Christ Jesus," (Philippians 2:5)
What is one of the last things that Jesus did while here on the earth? He lowered Himself to servanthood, literally, and washed the feet of His disciples. He girded himself with a towel, lowered his head, and with holy hands, scrubbed the grime of sinners' feet.
"If I then, the Lord and the Teacher, washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet. For I gave you an example that you also should do as I did to you. Truly, truly, I say to you, a slave is not greater than his master, nor is one who is sent greater than the one who sent him. If you know these things, you are blessed if you do them." (John 13:14-17)
I read something recently from actor Peter Moreton in a Lamplighter Moment. Mark Hamby was interviewing him, and asked him how young people might learn to become great actors like himself. He replied, "First, you need to give up all desires of becoming a great actor. You need to devote yourself to your craft, not to desires to become great. Then, when opportunities present themselves, your primary goal is to lift up the actors around you. Your job as an actor is to accentuate the character of others. They are to increase while you decrease. If I play a servant, for example, and I'm in the presence of a king, my role is to communicate to the audience the character of the king by my humble attitudes and actions. The king will be known through me."
I leave you with this thought, my dear readers. I have changed my focus, my quest, my drive.
I must decrease, that through my servanthood my King might be known through me.