By Bill Walsh at Desiring God:
Praise God for the times of effective ministry that he allows us to experience. If you’re like me you get excited when you see the fruitfulness of any ministry that God calls you to do. It is a thrill to see him at work, putting to use the gifts and callings that he has granted to us for the cause of the Kingdom.
But in Luke 10 Christ challenges us to test our own hearts, by examining what we rejoice in most.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven…. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven. (Luke 10: 17-20)
We easily slip into over-emphasizing results rather than rejoicing most in our redemption. According to the Lord, the deepest rejoicing that we should seek is the joy of the impact that the Gospel has made on our own hearts and lives.
Some questions to regularly ask ourselves:
- Do I rejoice that God, by some mystery to me, chose me before the foundation of the world, due to nothing in me, and wrote my name in his Book of Life?
- Do I rejoice that God, from the beginning, had me in mind when he was carrying out his plan to redeem a people for the glory of his name?
- Do I rejoice that God sent his Son on a mission from heaven to become the Word made flesh on my behalf, in order to save me from my sins?
- Do I rejoice that Christ lived perfectly without sin, fulfilling the law in my place, in order that its righteous requirements might be fulfilled in me by grace through faith?
- Do I rejoice that the Lord Jesus bore my sins in his body on the tree, so that I could receive forgiveness for every sin that I have or will commit?
- Do I rejoice that day by day, these truths are sinking down into my soul and, as C.S. Lewis says, re-working my house; re-building, re-furnishing, preparing me for greater works ahead and ultimately for a greater Kingdom ahead.
- Do I rejoice in counting everything as loss because of the surpassing worth of knowing Christ Jesus my Lord who is bringing me to God?
Why does Christ tell us to rejoice first that our names are written in heaven? Might it be because he knows that the mustard seed of faith that he plants in us is what opens our eyes and lives to the Gospel in the first place? It is only because he chose us for salvation that we even have the possibility of reaching out and being a part of his work in bringing others to salvation and spiritual growth.
True ministry effectiveness and impact springs from a heart radically changed by the Gospel. No God-granted mysterious seed of the Gospel in us—no tree of lifelong fruitfulness.
Lord, make us aware and vigilant for where our deepest rejoicing lies. Keep us focused on allowing the amazing truth of your redemption to shape our hearts while we labor in your field.