Here’s a good article that reminds us about the importance of feeding our faith over our ego and allowing God’s grace to accomplish what we could never earn.
Where’s Jesus? by Joshua Gulley
Luke 5:15-16 – “The news about Him was spreading even farther, and large crowds were gathering to hear and to be healed of their sicknesses. But Jesus Himself would slip away to the wilderness and pray.”
Hold on a minute! I thought this was what Jesus’s job was—to spread the gospel of the kingdom of God, to heal people, to cast out demons, to raise people from the dead, to encourage, to do miracles, to teach, to exhort, to rebuke! You’re telling me that Jesus turned down opportunities to do the Lord’s work?! You mean they had a door-knocking event and He didn’t show up? You mean to tell me that there was a work camp going on and He skipped it? Are you trying to say that there was a revival meeting that night and He didn’t attend?
I’m being overly dramatic, of course. But the fact remains that there was good work available for the doing, and Jesus chose not to be there. How can this be so? I think Jesus had already learned a couple of things that take some experience to figure out—a couple of things that I understand in theory at this point of my life, but have not quite perfected in practice just yet.
First is that your own relationship with God has to be in proper order before anything else can be acceptable. There are always good things to be doing, but if we are always doing good things, we are not taking time to stay close to God ourselves.
Second is that overworking yourself is not good. There are several reasons for this, but the important one here is that when we are working all the time, we may be accomplishing a lot, but we may also be tempted to develop an unhealthy pride in the things we accomplish. I may knock on 500 doors and conduct 30 Bible studies and grade a thousand correspondence courses and mow a dozen yards and clean five gutters and visit 20 widows and carry 40 meals to the sick before I realize that by keeping up with my stats, I’m developing a “salvation by credit” kind of attitude. To twist Paul’s words a bit, I may give all my possessions to feed the poor and surrender my body to be burned, but without the blood of Jesus, none of that will get me to heaven. God is pleased with the good we accomplish as long as we keep in mind that He doesn’t need us to do it. He deserves every bit of our devotion, but ironically, that devotion can be misplaced and actually cause us to move away from God. “Be on the alert. Your adversary, the devil, prowls around like a roaring lion, seeking someone to devour” (1 Peter 5:8).
Paul perhaps captures it best in Ephesians 2:8-10. “By grace you have been saved through faith; and that not of yourselves, it is the gift of God; not as a result of works, so that no one may boast. For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand so that we would walk in them.” We can’t let Satan guilt us into thinking we’ve got to do more, more, more. When you find yourself patting yourself on the back for something good you just did (boasting), then it’s time to go back to the other side of the semicolon to remember that salvation is a gift—not wages. Lord, help us know when it is time to slip away into the wilderness and pray. – Joshua Gulley
Josh is a member at the Smithville Church of Christ and a teacher of music at the High School level