“Arise, O judge of the earth. Give the proud what they deserve.” (Psalm 94:2 NLT)
In our weaker moments we’re tempted to believe God has been unfair in giving us the “hand” we’ve been dealt. That’s usually when we begin the “blame game” or the “what about them” rant. I’ve been there and it hurts to remember.
Remember when James and John asked Jesus to give them seats on either side of Him in heaven? How did the others respond? Mark records it this way: “When the ten other disciples heard what James and John had asked, they were indignant.”
That’s when Jesus reminded them: “Whoever wants to be a leader among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first among you must be the slave of everyone else. For even the Son of Man came not to be served but to serve others and to give His life as a ransom for many.”
The other ten got really angry, but do you know why? Because they wanted those seats! Isn’t that the way we are? We may not be as bold as James and John, but we nonetheless think if anyone deserves special treatment it’s us.
Thom Rainer wrote: “Anyone who believes they are entitled to something from God, know the adversary has put that thought in you, not the Holy Spirit.” You see this displayed in all walks of life, but none more pronounced than in the church.
In my first position as a Senior Pastor, a Staff Pastor who had been there longer than me resigned. It was messy. Because of that, in what I believed to be the best interest of the church, I asked each member of the search committee individually to declare their personal approval of any candidate we would invite to fill the vacated position. It made sense to me that we should be in 100% agreement. They agreed.
A candidate was called on whom each person had agreed. It was a young couple with small children. When they came the church’s response was gracious. In my heart I believed they would be a perfect fit for our growing church. But when the vote was taken, they only received 51% of the votes in favor of them coming. I was crushed.
It became apparent that someone had made an effort to get as many people as possible to vote against them. While I was still staggering emotionally from the decision, a member of the committee got right in my face and said: “I just wanted you to know who’s really running this church!”
It was a hard lesson, but in hindsight what hurts me most was the sad misunderstanding that I “deserved” better than that. I didn’t say that, I don’t even remember thinking it, but as I think back, that’s why I was so badly hurt.
Was it disappointing? Of course. But I had no more right to feel entitled to another outcome than James and John deserved to be granted seats of honor by Jesus. I’m a slave and slaves have no rights. Slaves serve, they don’t demand special treatment.
Jesus said in Luke 17:7: “When a servant comes in from plowing or taking care of sheep, does his master say, ‘Come in and eat with me?’ No, he says, ‘Prepare my meal, put on your apron, and serve me while I eat. Then you can eat later.’ And does the master thank the servant for doing what he was told to do? Of course not. In the same way, when you obey Me you should say, ‘We are unworthy servants who have simply done our duty.’”
That may be a hard pill to swallow, but that’s what we signed up for when we knelt at our Master’s feet. We’re not entitled to anything in this life or the next. We’re underserving slaves at the mercy of our Master. Personally, I wouldn’t want it any other way.
Blessings, Ed 😊