Luke 10:1-24 has an incredibly diverse range of wisdom and brilliant insights. Perhaps if it was the only portion of scripture that we had, it’s diverse range of wisdom would still be more than sufficient to help us understand so many realities of the Kingdom of Heaven and service to the King of Heaven; but let me paraphrase one insight that has been encouraging to me throughout the years:
“Don’t simply rejoice because demons are fleeing, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven” (vs. 20).
The Source of Life
The famous preacher, Martyn Lloyd Jones when asked how he felt about the loss of his ability to do ministry toward the end of his life, replied by pointing to this verse. He understood that the true foundation of all rejoicing was not in ministry but in the Source of Life!Jesus brings the focus away from the doing of ministry and back to the reality of our identity - Jeremy Chambers Click To Tweet
In this passage Jesus gives a brief equipping to the disciples, then he sends them out to do ministry on their own. When they return, they are exceedingly glad at the fruit of their ministry and Jesus seems more than happy about it too, but then he gives that insight / word of caution, “Don’t simply rejoice because demons are fleeing, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Jesus is the Good Shepherd and He takes a moment to shepherd the hearts of His co-laborers. He doesn’t want them to get distracted by the results of their hard work, rather He wants them to remember the foundation for all their joy: the Father has given salvation to them. He is bringing the focus away from the doing of ministry and back to the reality of identity: they have been saved.
The Distraction of “Needs”
Have you ever felt called so intensely to a particular direction or a particular sort of work? Have you ever felt so filled with passion about a need or a cause that it consumed you (even just a little bit)? Have you ever seen broken hurting people and felt such deep compassion for them that you were willing to lose sight of many other things in life in order to serve and love and help them out? If you are like me, then there is a screaming “yes” in response to these questions! There is some deep drive to do something about all these things
Jesus wants you to find your rejoicing not in the doing of His work, but in His work for you: He has written you down on His heart!
The Distraction of Ministry Ambition
The ending scene from the movie “Schindler’s List” has always been seared in my mind. Immediately after being thanked for saving so many lives, Schindler realizes that if he would have just sold his car he could have saved ten more lives, if he could have sold his pin, two more. He begins to weep as he considers that he hasn’t saved enough people. The people try to comfort him by reminding him to focus on the good that he has done, but he is caught by the realization that there were so many more who he could have saved.
The Curse of Ambition
This perhaps is the curse of ministry ambition as I have observed in so many ministry leaders globally. I could have saved one more person. I could have helped one more homeless person. I could have cared for one more addict. I could have spent one more hour teaching that student. A friend of mine had recently come back from an incredible ministry experience and had such mind blowing “results,” the sort of results that surpass the achievements of many people’s entire lifetimes. Yet my friend was plagued by the question of, “why not more? Why not one more? Why not 10 more?”
The Greed of Achievement
There is a dangerous greed of achievement that can creep into our souls. Jesus warns us not to get our identity from our accomplishments but to return to the foundation of all our joy: salvation! He cautions the disciples not to lose sight of this.
Jesus knows just how easy it is for those of us who serve to get caught up in the serving and forget the big picture. No matter what you have accomplished, if you never see Christ as the true source of Joy and Satisfaction, then no amount of achievement will seem right to you. Jesus warns his followers from becoming consumed by doing good things and missing out on the best thing.There is a dangerous greed of achievement that can creep into our souls. - Jeremy Chambers Click To Tweet
The Distraction of Success
The disciples had just seen incredible things. I don’t know about you, but the idea of demons fleeing from your ministry is a wild thing, to say the least! They had been watching Christ and His ministry for some time, and now they were going out and doing it by His power. Can you imagine the intoxicating joy at seeing these sorts of results? Jesus’s response in the passage shows that He also shares in the excitement of the results yet His wisdom guides them away from an addictive drug and toward the Source of Living Waters.
If the results of your ministry become falsely foundational to your joy, then positive results will destroy your humility and negative results will crush your soul and willpower to go on. But if your joy is founded in Him, in His beautiful, loving work of saving you and bringing you into His family, then the results of ministry, negative or positive, will be interpreted with proper perspective. You will be properly excited at positive fruit, yet even more excited about The Life behind all fruit.
Recover Your Foundation for Joy
Take some time to evaluate the needs that you are focusing on around you. Have they drawn you away from your First Love? God is love. Let His love heal the part of your heart that may have drifted.
Consider your ambitions, have you developed dependencies on results and achievement? Trust in the Lord with all your heart, don’t rely on your perceptions of what needs to happen in ministry, in every aspect of your life, pay attention to Him and He will take care of your direction.
Has ministry success (or lack of success) become so brilliant as to surpass the brightness of the Christ’s glory? God loved us and sent Jesus as the Way, let Him lead you. Jesus is the Truth, trust Him. Jesus is the Life, let Him fill your joy to overflowing. Jesus gives us the Holy Spirit as the Water of Life, so that we may never thirst. Drink deeply of His Water and recover the foundation of rejoicing: your name is written in heaven!
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