Read: 1 Peter 4:10-11|
To serve God or not to serve God? That is the question!
Wait, that was a question you want me to answer? What do you mean by “serve”? Are there any limits? Uhmm, let me get back to you on that….
Jesus said in John 14:15 (NIV), ”If you love me, keep my commands.” This sort of matter-of-fact obedience is part of what it means to live a life of faith. However, the binary choice to be in His service or not to be could lead us to rationalize God’s directions. Even though the Holy Spirit reminds us that we are out of order, we try to salvage a peace of mind by applying the salve of our rationale. In this devotional, we will explore common reasons we use to rationalize away serving God.
Rationalization – I just want to be sure that this is right for me at this time
At one time or another, every believer has rationalized God’s calling and direction for their lives. Like many of our Bible heroes, we have A to Z reasons for whether or not we should serve Him and follow His will for our lives. We create holy sounding reasons for why we could not serve God in the way that He was calling us.
The challenge is that it is unlikely that we have an original rationale. Most likely others have faced the same challenge. Listed below are a few common ways that we try to intellectualize our calling. Each reason relates to a conscious deficiency or issue in our lives:
A – Ability – Moses offered four rationalizations: 1.) Who Am I – I am a nobody? 2.) Whom do you represent? 3.) What if they don’t believe me? 4.) But, I don’t have the ability to speak well. God provided answers to each and Moses accepted the assignment. [Exodus 3-4]
B – Busy – Nehemiah was the food taster for the King. With an important full-time job, he still heard God’s call. Inspired, he took the risk to ask the king for a leave of absence in order to take care of what God had put on his heart. Avoid the feeling that we are too busy or this is not a good time for what God has appointed us to do. He anoints whom He appoints.
C – Circumstances – Daniel, Hananiah, Mishael and Azariah were forced into the service of the pagan King Nebuchadnezzar. In spite of their circumstances, they asked and received permission to avoid eating the food offered first to the pagan gods. Instead, they chose to serve God even in captivity. After a test, they were allowed a special diet of vegetables. In the end, they were judged to be ten times wiser than all of the others. [Daniel 1-2] God is bigger than our circumstances. [Psalm 23]
D – Doubt – Peter requested and received permission to walk on water with Jesus. But, as he walked towards Jesus his doubt overtook his faith and he began to sink. [Matthew 14:28-31] We too can doubt that God called us or still wants us to serve. Continue to trust Him and He will bear you and your burdens.
E – Equipped – God doesn’t call the equipped…He equips the called. Despite our logic and rationale, He does not require a certain education level, occupation or even time spent being a Christian before calling us to serve Him. In case you forgot, Rahab was a prostitute; Naomi was a widow; Saul was a religious zealot; Peter denied Christ and yet God called each to serve Him.
I am sure, that each of us can think of other ABC’s of rationalizations that have impacted our walk with God. God does not mind us asking the question(s). In fact, as noted above, Moses had many questions prior to serving God. We have the free-will to decide if we want to serve Him in the area He is calling us or not!
Rationalization + Prayer + Love for God = Service
To serve or not to serve is part of the mental gymnastics that believers go through each day. Some issues are settled such as “I will go to Church”, “I will honor my mother and father”. Whereas others, such as I will serve as a Sunday School Teacher, Usher or other endeavor may be unsettled. Some may decide to reluctantly accept the assignment temporarily. However, once it feels inconvenient, we perform a mental backflip and change our minds. We reason that surely God understands that we “tried”.
This type of rationalization, often helps us to feel justified with why we did not do what God has called us to do. As we share the plausible rationale with others, we should still feel the prodding of the Holy Spirit to yield to His will.
At the end of each day, our desire to follow His will is linked to how much we love God.
Just let go, and try Him to see for yourself that overcoming the ABC’s of rationalizations will lead to the ABC’s of Blessings. [Romans 12:1-2]
Series Outline with links:
1. Reward – Serve Him for the reward of His fellowship and presence in your life
2. Fear – Serve Him with a reverent fear and respect for His power, presence and protection
3. Duty – Serve Him dutifully; we are called to serve Him
4. Love – Serve with all your heart, soul and mind
5. Joy – Serve Him joyfully; the joy of the Lord is our strength
1. Temptation and Sin – Cannot serve Him because I’m not “holy” enough
2. Burn-out Part 1 – Cannot serve Him because I’ve lost motivation and energy
3. Burn-out Part 2 – Solution – Cannot serve Him because I need to refuel and reload
4. Rationalization – Cannot serve Him because I don’t have the time, talent, treasure necessary
5. Procrastination – Future – Cannot serve Him because I’m not able to find the right opportunity and follow through
1. Discover –
A. What is the difference between rationalization and making an excuse not to serve?
B. What rationale have you used in the past? Why and how should you move beyond these excuses?
2. Develop –
A. How do you handle assignments from God that seem bigger than you are?
B. As you accept some, defer some and deny some heavenly assignments, what is the impact on your faith and your walk with God?
3. Demonstrate –
A. Share an assignment from God that you accepted that was bigger than your abilities.
B. Research and add some additional ABC’s of Rationalization to the list above