Like many others, I really enjoy reading Oswald Chambers’ “My Utmost for His Highest.” This book filled with short daily devotions challenge and convicts me. I remember first being introduced to it by my wife Martha while we were working together in Holland, before we were even dating. After picking it up, I immediately noticed that this book had so much more meat and substance than any other book on spiritual growth I had read before. Honestly, some days I find it too “meaty” and I have no idea what he is talking about but most of the time the words on the page speak volumes. The latter happened recently while reading the entry on February 25. It is entitled The Delight of Sacrifice (you should probably just read the whole thing–the link will take you there). I love the titles he gives each entry because you know you are about to be blown away. His writing style is so unapologetic and to the point and I think that is partly why I am so attracted to it. I, and we, at times need to be told flatly “wake up!” and Chambers’ does that well.
Do you ever find it hard or unnatural to always do what you know you should do with joy? Before I go farther I should throw in a disclaimer and say I am not at all sad or unhappy. I simply want to serve with more joy and thought of sharing with you what I am learning. Anyway, have you ever answered yes to this question? I have and I must not be alone because Chambers hits this question right on the head.
The first line of this entry reads, “Once ‘the love of God has been poured out in our hearts by the Holy Spirit,’ we deliberately begin to identify ourselves with Jesus Christ’s interests and purposes in others’ lives (Romans 5:5).” Okay, I am supposed to align myself with Christ and His interests in people; heard that one before.
Wasting no time at all Chambers continues, “And Jesus has an interest in every individual person. We have no right in Christian service to be guided by our own interests and desires. In fact, this is one of the greatest tests of our relationship with Jesus Christ.” No right? Zero, zilch? He is quickly going deeper and touching something inside of me that I didn’t necessarily want to touch! Why don’t I want to hear these words? Self-interest and preservation; that bit of human innateness which tugs at each of us and sounds really nice and even looks really good but also has the ability to destroy relationships and even ourselves.
I wonder how many of us, myself included, want to follow Jesus but on our own terms with our desires leading the charge.
Chambers continues to drive in his point. “Many of us are interested only in our own goals, and Jesus cannot help Himself to our lives. But if we are totally surrendered to Him, we have no goals of our own to serve. Paul said that he knew how to be a ‘doormat’ without resenting it, because the motivation of his life was devotion to Jesus.”
Am I a doormat? Am I finding delight in laying myself down for others? These questions continue to ring in my head and the more I examine my heart, I think I have some room to grow.
I enjoy what I have chosen to do with my life. I believe in the cause of global development. I am excited to be a part of what World Concern is doing in Haiti (a little plug). I try my best to be kind to colleagues and neighbors. I look for opportunities to encourage others. But these things are not enough on their own. In order to experience success in my work and complete joy in my service I must become more like a doormat. Simply, Chambers says this can be achieved when one is in love.
“Freedom was not Paul’s motive at all. In fact, he stated, ‘I could wish that I myself were accursed from Christ for my brethren . . .’ (Romans 9:3). Had Paul lost his ability to reason? Not at all! For someone who is in love, this is not an overstatement. And Paul was in love with Jesus Christ.”
If I start with love and focus on serving Jesus first, then what seems like an unnatural act—always doing what I do with joy—will eventually start to feel more natural. This process will make me healthier spiritually, and allow me to bless others so much more than if I tried to do it on my own.
Are you a doormat today?