One of the hardest things for Christians to maintain is DISCIPLESHIP…. Christians have a tendency to separate their lives into “time for God” and “time for me”…. even Christians who have made Jesus Lord over their lives stray away from such “Lordship” (sometimes without even realizing it) because the pull of the flesh and the “me” is so strong.
Lordship…. the Greek talks about “bond slaves” to Christ… implies no rights whatsoever….. it must ALL be about Christ and not about “me”…. you can have your plans and “serve” God in the machinery of the Church (or by personal witnessing) “when convenient” but that is NOT discipleship.
But you say that is incredible ! …. you mean to tell me, I must be serving day and night doing the work of God and nothing else ? ….. what about “work”, “family” and “recreation” ….. I have to work…. I have family responsibilities…. and I need recreation…. how unreasonable can God be ?
Aaah, my friend, therein lies the real challenge to the ‘self’…… don’t you not think that God knows you need these things ?…… even bond slaves have ‘off time’ to sleep rest and recover ? …… did not Christ call His disciples to come away and rest a while (Mark 6:31) ?
and yet…. and yet… it is SOO easy …. after having a God sanctioned ‘rest period’ to PROLONG the fleshly indulgence….. a little MORE rest….. a little MORE recreation… a few MORE things that I want or need to do….. more…. money, work, family time, recreation time…. whatever….
Friends…. the ONLY way …. to keep the “living sacrifice” on the altar is to bind it with cords (Psalm 118:27, Romans 12:1)…. in real life this is achieved by the DISCIPLINE of prayer and Bible study (NOT reading a short passage and rattling of a few items of prayer)…. but by spending quality time with God ….. why is this ‘discipline’ ?…. I mean don’t you love God and want to spend time with Him ? ….. believe me, it’s discipline, when a packed schedule of ‘important’ activities awaits….. as God blesses a Christian their schedule can easily become so ‘incredibly packed with stuff to do’ that whatever time they used to spend with God gets compromised….. and gradually all their ‘good resolutions’ to get deeper with God begin to fade….. the cords stretch and pop and the ‘living’ sacrifice is off the alter again and galloping off somewhere else.
A good test of our condition is this …. are we aware of God’s involvement at all times… in our business…. in our recreation…. in our ‘day to day’ activities…… are we listening for Him to tell us…. ‘enough now, I want you to do this or that’….. this may seem a bit ‘robotic’ to some….. but if God is sharing our day-to-day lives (a constant companion with whom we interact continually…. which is what it actually means , by ‘living in God’s presence’)… AND He is also our Lord and Master….. then we need to take the cue from Him….. and the problem with humans is that either they get a little too cozy with ‘friend’ concept or they get a little too cozy with the Master concept….. meaning they don’t recognize His cue to get back to work OR they don’t recognize His cue to stop working and relax respectively…
In the first case the sacrifice gallops off…. and in the second case the sacrifice dies (victim of self-imposed (rather than God ordained) asceticism…. but the fact is ruining your mental or physical health thinking you are doing ‘God’s will’ serves no beneficial purpose whatsoever unless God has specifically instructed you to do this and He will give you an extra portion of Grace if such is the case…… God NEVER tells people to do what He does not equip them for…..
So if you are dedicated to God …. be wary of being too ‘comfortable’ or of being ‘too overworked’ ….. how do you know if you are overworked ?….. here are the signs that God has NOT called you to ‘overwork’….. you are irritable and miserable…. you think that others don’t work hard enough and you have to do all the work….. you think that your hard work and self-sacrifice entitles you to something (you must be somebody special to God more than all “those happy, lazy Christians who do very little and are always enjoying themselves”)….. check yourself …. these are clear signs that God has NOT told you to work so hard….. God may have “overworked” the Apostle Paul BUT He gave Him GRACE for it….. meaning, Paul’s spiritual character was not compromised but was enhanced….. Paul may have been stressed emotionally, physically and mentally but He had joy, peace, love and humility…… God gave Him all He needed for the task…. today there are so many examples of ‘stressed’ people who purport to be ‘fully dedicated to God and overworked in His service’….. and yet they have little tolerance for others who do not think like them…. little or no love for the ‘hardened sinners’ they are trying to ‘convert’….. it’s a sure sign that God is not the originator of that ‘overwork’….. they may think they are doing it for God….. they may even think that He ‘called’ them to do it…. but the evidence (personal spiritual character) suggests otherwise.
It is very wise to heed and to read Matthew 20:10 – 13 ….. and contemplate this parable in the light of your own feelings about other people…. about God…. about other churches… etc.
Beware of ‘exclusivity’ and ‘narrow Biblical interpretations’ ….. God’s free gift of salvation to the human race through Jesus Christ ….. is not limited to particular ‘doctrines’ and ‘viewpoints’…… God is far from satisfied with people who may have the ‘correct’ doctrine but do not manifest ‘the fruit of the Spirit’ (Galatians 5:22 – 23) in their interaction with others of different ideas….
If you have totally surrendered to Jesus Christ may this document guide you as you seek to work in the Lord’s harvest.