July 18, 2013

1 Corinthians 10:33 even as I try to please everybody in every way. For I am not seeking my own good but the good of many, so that they may be saved.

Taken rightly, this verse is a recipe for great personal peace and satisfaction. Taken wrongly, it is a recipe for complete burnout and nervous breakdown. The reason for that is that being self-centered is never the way to genuine peace and satisfaction, but being emotionally dependent on the responses of others is extremely unhealthy. So how to strike the right balance? The key in this verse is the phrase, “that they may be saved.” That puts the focus on Christ the Savior, if understood rightly. We cannot save anyone in our own strength, so right there it takes the focus off of us. However, the more we love Jesus the more we want others to love Him too. The better we understand our own salvation the more we want others to be saved too. There is no greater joy for a Christian than to be used by God in leading someone to Christ. The more we are focused on “What’s in it for me?” the less we will have that joy.

Since I am an American pastor in Japan, nothing could be more applicable to my life. I have struggled with many different motivations over the years, going from being focused on what I thought of as my own satisfaction, with “church work” being peripheral, to understanding that my money-making activities are largely for the purpose of supporting my church work. I must say that the latter attitude brings far more satisfaction and joy! I still have great pain when someone to whom I’ve ministered dies without having opened their heart to Christ, but I am able to release them, and myself, to God who is merciful and gracious, and keep going with those who are still able to respond. I know that though God does use me, and I am not to be lazy in my availability to Him, it is not my effort as such that accomplishes His will. Rather, it is His power working through me. (Colossians 1:29) That is the paradox of serving God: I am to rest, relax, and rejoice, regardless of how busy my body might be, because it is not my strength but His. If I will do that, then many will indeed be saved, for His glory.

Father, thank You for this reminder. I forget it occasionally! Help me be fully active with Your strength and power, while being fully at rest in You, waiting expectantly on You so that Your strength may replace mine, (Isaiah 40:31) drawing many into Your kingdom for their salvation and Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!

About jgarrott

Born and raised in Japan of missionary parents. Have been here as an adult missionary since 1981.
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