Whether in pretense or in truth…
“But sin seizing an opportunity…”
Recently I was reminded of what a life of servitude looks like in the church. The examples were people of respect and admiration. Ones heavy at the plow to plant the seed of the Gospel in lives surrounding them. Their intentions and accomplishments holy in the eyes of God, but much like what Paul had encountered with his zeal for holiness, sin entered in.
Sin entering in can be a result of many things. Things like stress, fatigue and lack of support are only a few attacks that quickly become the avenue of self-destruction.
Servitude in Christ begins with the full appreciation and marveling at what Christ has done on the cross. From that demonstration of love outpours servitude and sacrifice. The joy of salvation is the fuel, and the promises of God’s glory are the finish line. Therefore, through the grace of God and fullness of The Spirit, neither sacrifice nor servitude feel like devastating loss to a Christian’s pride or ego.
Does this mean that sacrifice and servitude are easy? By no means! (Winky face) When the lines get blurred and your idea of sacrifice shifts to a self-centered mentality, it’s hard to keep your gaze on Christ. Soon, the war waged against sin becomes heavy and tiresome. Your arms that hold God’s banner high become erratic and feel like a ton of bricks. Two options present themselves:
- Take a break. Place our banner temporarily on the ground until we can get our second wind.
- Continue to press on even if your heart is not in the right place.
Taking a break from obedience
A few years ago, I was working three jobs – two full-time jobs and one on the weekends. All three were low-paying, physically-demanding jobs. I got little sleep and even less of a social life. But, I needed the money. Tithing was the most difficult for me during this time. I needed every cent, and giving 10 percent of every paycheck was a gut punch to my earnings.
My heart was not in the right place when giving my tithe, so I stopped. I learned a valuable lesson through this time. That obedience to The Almighty is not dependent on my ever-swaying mood.
The passions of the heart are always changing and inherently sinful. Which is why Jesus’ commands are holy and timeless, never waiting for us to decide if we are capable of completing any such tasks by our own might.
If we can justify our own sin, we would be capable of adhering to a perfect life, in which case we wouldn’t even battle with self-centeredness in our servitude. But we aren’t capable of doing any such thing on our own and what we are left with is simply obedience. However, obedience does not mean that we should shut our eyes and plunge head on into holiness with our hearts still gripped with anguish and selfishness.
If obedience is not sourced through the grace of God, it quickly becomes fueled by accomplishments. Success in obedience becomes measured in a checklist of tallying trophies.
It is a deadly trap to fall into when we justify servitude with our accomplishments. Suddenly conviction of sin from The Spirit in the life of a new believer becomes words that WE said. The church becomes a place where WE are the heroes of success and attendance instead of the one sustaining our every breath. The Gospel becomes a product we sell and a prayer we teach to pray. Grace looks like a regurgitated routine instead of arms outstretched to everyone we encounter! Blind obedience is casting aside the essence of truth for an ideology that is sinful.
I urge you, do not fall into either of these heartbreaking-categories. Hold tight to the source of your salvation. Cry out to God with a broken heart to receive joy of His good works. Service and sacrifice are not blind ambition but an opportunity to worship and grow nearer to Christ.
“Some indeed preach Christ from envy and rivalry, but others from good will. The latter do it out of love, knowing that I am put here for the defense of the gospel. The former proclaim Christ out of selfish ambition, not sincerely but thinking to afflict me in my imprisonment. What then? Only that in every way, whether in pretense or in truth, Christ is proclaimed, and in that I rejoice.” (Phil. 1:15-18).
The Gospel will be proclaimed whether your heart is in the right place or not. Regardless of which category you find yourself in, pursue a heart of joy in Christ.
As you hold the banner high and look up in worship, do not focus on your hands that hold it, but see past them and marvel at the sheer power and beauty of that which dances in the wind. It is for Him that we have been set free.