IF YOU ARE WORKING HARD TO PLEASE GOD

IF YOU ARE WORKING HARD TO PLEASE GOD

Growing up, I never understood the idea of denominations in the Christian faith. I could never get my head around how, if we all profess to worship the same God, could we differentiate ourselves?

Sure, denominations grew from differing worship preferences; so there will be differences in the hymns we sing, the tone we preach in or even the ambiance in church. But to say that one is different from the other? Hmmm…

Then I started to see why it happened. Within the same church, brother rises against brother, sister schemes against sister, back-biting, name-calling; but why? All because some of us feel that we are working hard to please God while others are just standing by lazy and not being the least bit participative. And it dawned on me…

We divide because when we do more, we think we are better than others.

We do, don’t we? When you put your tithe into the offering bag, you do sneak a peek at how much your neighbor is putting in. And when you find that you’ve given more, a smirk creeps onto your face.

Or when you’ve finally been bestowed a title in the church that makes you eligible to participate in certain rituals that are ‘Deacons-only’, you walk around town with a different ‘air’ about you, don’t you? You feel different from the rest.

You know beloved, all these remind me of a story.

“Now it happened as they went that He entered a certain village; and a certain woman named Martha welcomed Him into her house. And she had a sister called Mary, who also sat at Jesus’ feet and heard His word. But Martha was distracted with much serving, and she approached Him and said, “Lord, do You not care that my sister has left me to serve alone? Therefore tell her to help me.”” Luke 10:38-40

Feel like that sometimes? You are ushering, but because one of the other ushers has taken ill, you feel compelled to take up her mantle and take on her ‘offering bag’ duties. Then later, when you get ‘distracted’ by the traffic situation, you start to manage traffic within the church compound. Then finally, after 4 long hours of running around, you get to sit down. Right at that time, your spouse walks up to you, all refreshed from the lunch with the kids and asks, ‘Why are you so tired, my dear?’

How would you respond to that?

Or maybe you are on the other side of the fence. Because you still haven’t found your niche in church, you aren’t serving yet. But those around you are making you feel guilty about not serving and ‘taking up your cross’. So going to church becomes a chore because of your guilt.

Well beloved, if you are either of those people, stop for a moment and let Jesus tell you what He really wants from you.

“And Jesus answered and said to her, “Martha, Martha, you are worried and troubled about many things. But one thing is needed, and Mary has chosen that good part, which will not be taken away from her.”” Luke 10:41-42

When we become Christians, we did not get inducted into God’s slave house. We did not don denim overalls and morph into tubular, single-eyed, yellow beings. Instead, what happened was, we became His children.

For “…as many as received Him, to them He gave the right to become children of God, to those who believe in His name: who were born, not of blood, nor of the will of the flesh, nor of the will of man, but of God.” John 1:12-13

Now, I don’t know about you, but I wouldn’t treat my own children as slaves, would you? So if you will not abuse your children, what made you think that God wants you to work hard for Him? Indeed,

“If you then, evil as you are, know how to give good and advantageous gifts to your children, how much more will your Father Who is in heaven [perfect as He is] give good and advantageous things to those who keep on asking Him!” Matthew 7:11 [AMP]

Paul argued this best when he said,

“Let me put this question to you: How did your new life begin? Was it by working your heads off to please God? Or was it by responding to God’s Message to you?” Galatians 3:2 [MSG]

So then, “Answer this question: Does the God who lavishly provides you with his own presence, his Holy Spirit, working things in your lives you could never do for yourselves, does he do these things because of your strenuous moral striving or because you trust him to do them in you? Don’t these things happen among you just as they happened with Abraham? He believed God, and that act of belief was turned into a life that was right with God.” Galatians 3:5-6 [MSG]

You see, the Christian life is not meant to be a life of toil. Serve if you feel called to, sure. Give as you are led, of course. But it should not be bothersome, it should not feel tiresome. And you know that it has reached that stage when you are, like Martha, snapping at people whom you think are not giving or serving as much as you are.

For Jesus didn’t say, ‘Come to me, all you who are weary and heavy-laden, and I will add to your burden’; He said,

“Come to Me, all you who labor and are heavy-laden and overburdened, and I will cause you to rest. [I will ease and relieve and refresh your souls.]” Matthew 11:28 [AMP]

‘I will cause you to rest’ says Jesus. ‘I will ease and relieve and refresh’.

In fact, if you are drained by service to the church, this is what He has to say;

“Come to Me, all who are weary and heavily burdened [by religious rituals that provide no peace], and I will give you rest [refreshing your souls with salvation].” Matthew 11:28 [AMP]

Are you bogged down by service? Are you fatigued by the things you need to do ‘for Him’? Well, Jesus is very clear. This is all you need to do for Him.

“Then they said to Him, “What shall we do, that we may work the works of God?”
Jesus answered and said to them, “This is the work of God, that you believe in Him whom He sent.” John 6:28-29

That’s it. Believe. Anything else is nice, but unnecessary. For you see, if you feel that service is getting you down and serving is wearing you out, remember that Jesus said,

“For My yoke is easy [to bear] and My burden is light.” Matthew 11:30 [AMP]

Whatever He wants from you, He will make it such that it will come so easily, you will even feel refreshed after your service.

Now, what if you are not and/or have never served? Will God wag the finger at you?

Well, “In Christ’s family there can be no division into Jew and non-Jew, slave and free, male and female. Among us you are all equal. That is, we are all in a common relationship with Jesus Christ.” Galatians 3:28 [MSG]

Remember Mary? Remember what Jesus said of her?

“…only one thing is necessary, for Mary has chosen the good part [that which is to her advantage], which will not be taken away from her.” Luke 10:42 [AMP]

And what is that ‘one thing’? What is ‘the good part’? It is this.

“…Mary, who seated herself at the Lord’s feet and was continually listening to His teaching.” Luke 10:39 [AMP]

Resting in His presence and listening to Him teach you. That is the good part.

So beloved child of God, don’t let others hoodwink you into diverting your eyes onto what you have or have not done for Christ. The Christian life is not one of hard labor.

Instead, now that we have put our trust in Him, we should all the more sit back and let Him continually show off in our lives, proving to us and the world that our faith in Him is not misplaced.

The beauty of our Father’s love is that He is not interested in your labor. Sure, he might get you to do things from time to time, but if He does, the task will be effortless, the job, hassle-free. Because if that is how you would treat your own children, our Father will treat you infinitely better than that.

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