Have you ever experienced the frustration of knowing the truth but no one believed you? Joshua did’and he had to live with the consequences of this for almost forty years.
Joshua was one of the twelve Israelites chosen to spy out the land of Canaan. Their report on what they saw would help and entire nation of people make a decision about entering the Promised Land. When the twelve spies gave their report, ten said it’d be impossible to conquer the land. Joshua and Caleb agreed that the task would be difficult, but they urged the people to trust God to help them. They saw God as loving, powerful, and able to lead them safely into the Promised Land.
The people, however, rebelled and sided with the majority report. They ran from the responsibility of surrendering their lives to God. The result of their irresponsibility was tragic. A whole generation’with the exception of Joshua and Caleb’died in the desert.
Many of us think we can escape pain by avoiding responsibility and its demands. What we fail to realize is that we often experience a much deeper pain when we run away from responsibility than we do when we accept it. Joshua experienced significant pain in his life despite putting God first in his life. But that pain was used by God to develop him into one of the most effective leaders in all of history.
Did you know that service is a way of saying thanks to God? You can never truly pay back the overwhelming love and support your parents may have shown you. But you can pass the love on to your children. In the same way, you can never repay God for granting you life in Christ and for blessing you, but you can pass his love onto others in practical ways.
One of the great barriers to service, however, is pride. Pride causes men to scoff at the thought of putting others first. Pride teaches you to calculate how every action will further your own reputation or advance you toward your goals. Pride makes you keep careful record of who is next in line for something good.
The apostle Paul had much to say to us about sacrifice. Chapter twelve of the book of Romans portrays several specific areas in which you can be a living sacrifice and serve God in the world. As a living sacrifice, you surrender using your gifts solely for your own advancement. You seek to bless others instead and sacrifice your time and resources for their benefit. In the process, your life will be shaped into the image of greatest man who ever lived: Jesus Christ. Where do you sense God calling you to serve? Let your motivation for service flow from a heart that’s thankful to God for the grace he’s shown you.
‘I really don’t know what’s wrong with me,’ said forty-two-year-old Tyrone to his counselor. ‘I’ve attained many of my personal and business goals. But I’m still breeding ulcers, trying to climb up the ladder. With all my success, I’m still bummed when someone else beats me to a big sale or a new account. I have a wonderful wife and two great kids, but I kind of feel like an outsider when I’m with them. I’m often around people and have lots of friends. But I don’t enjoy it, and I don’t think they’re really enjoying me. I’m afraid my dark moods are distancing me from the ones I love. But I don’t know what to do about it.’
Tyrone looks and acts like the American Dream personified. By all outward appearances he’s succeeded in the areas of life that really matter in our society: family, friends, career, and finance. But like so many men, Tyrone’s warm smile and confident exterior mask a deep sadness and uncertainty. He often wonders what’s really worthwhile in life. Despite all the trophies he’s accumulated indicating he’s a winner, he always feels defeated.
Can you relate to Tyrone? The pursuit of the American Dream has left many feeling alone and angry, because prosperity can’t be measured by money or even family. Who does the Bible teach is prosperous or blessed? Only when you seek to find joy in your Creator and not in His creation, will your soul begin to find significance and true happiness. Stop and assess where you seek your joy.