Tag Archives: Job

12 Ways to Know When Our Serving is Sinful

One of my favourite passages from Paul is Ephesians 2:10 – “For we are God’s masterpiece. He has created us anew in Christ Jesus, so we can do the good things he planned for us long ago.

As humans, we were created to serve one another in love, and as followers of Christ we are new creations in Christ, and both commissioned and gifted to serve.  However, sometimes our serving can be sinful. The following are 12 ways we can tell:

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1. When we’re doing it for purely selfish motives (although we can’t ever be completely unselfish in our motives).

2. When we become irritable or frustrated when our plans are interrupted or changed.

3. When we haven’t left enough of a margin in our schedule to allow for unexpected interruptions (often God is working in these interruptions if we have eyes to see it).

4. When we complain (or boast) about being so busy that our family life suffers.

5. When our family life suffers, even when we don’t complain or boast about it.

6. When our health suffers, from stress or not getting enough sleep because of it.

7. When we take on jobs or projects not because we genuinely want to or feel God leading us to (or our boss tells us to!), but because no one else will do it or we think no one else is as qualified.

8. When we take on jobs or projects but feel resentful about it or like a martyr doing it.

9. When we take on jobs or projects because we think God will be more pleased by us or will love us more if we do.

10. When we take on jobs or projects because we want to impress or please people.

11. When we’ve bought into the lie that we need to be always doing or producing (or consuming!) to be considered valuable or worthy of love or acceptance.

12. Finally, when we’re doing it in our own strength instead of in God’s strength. “My people have committed two sins: They have forsaken me, the spring of living water, and have dug their own cisterns, broken cisterns that cannot hold water” (Jer. 2:13).

Sometimes we make ourselves overly busy because we don’t want to face deeper issues in our lives, and busyness, like other forms of distraction, postpone us from having to deal with them. Or sometimes it’s because we don’t want face God Himself – being alone with Him with nothing else to get in the way.

But God never intended that we extend ourselves so much that it becomes detrimental to our emotional, spiritual, or physical health. And He has gifted us for some jobs, but not all of them.

Are you over-committed at church or at work or in the community? You might actually be displeasing God, and it’s worth not taking this consideration too lightly. Spend some time alone and in silence, and before God see if any of reasons describe you.

Did I miss any reasons? What would you say are the reasons when serving is pleasing to God?

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Five Ways Not to Pray

Leaders of Judah: Jeremiah, please pray to God and ask his will for us! We promise we will do whatever it is, whether it’s good or bad. Like, seriously, we will. We promise.

Jeremiah: Okay I’ll ask and tell you what he says.

(ten days later)

Jeremiah: Hey, God says stay here in Judah. If you do, God will show mercy on you and deliver you from the king of Babylon. But, if you go to Egypt you are dead. Anyone who goes there will die by the sword, plague, and famine.

Leaders of Judah: Liar! You are lying! God didn’t say that! We’re going to Egypt.

Not Jeremiah.

A bullfrog. Not Jeremiah.

When I recently read this episode in Jeremiah 42-43, I think I actually laughed out loud. The leaders of Judah were so ridiculous. But after thinking about it more, I realized that I can do the same thing. And really, people today are not all that different from the leaders of Judah back then sometimes.

See, the people of Judah had already decided to flee to Egypt from the oncoming Babylonians, and in fact were in the process of doing that, when they stopped on the way to visit Jeremiah the prophet and ask him to inquire from God. In the same way, we can often decide our course of action, or the answer we want, in spite of praying for God’s guidance. This is not intentional, I’d argue, and I think there’s at least 5 reasons we do it:

1. We pray after we have thought through the issue/choice/desire instead of before, and have already decided what the right/rational/best course of action is.

2.  We pray before we have thought things through, but then proceed to decide the best answer ourselves instead of allowing God to speak. Doing this, we assume God will guide us through our decision-making process (and often he will), but often we don’t give him room to actually speak.

3. We don’t really believe God will give us guidance (again, subconsciously), and so take the task upon ourselves.

4. We have forgotten that God is both here and already working in or through whatever it is we’re praying about.

5. The prayer is mere ritual, done in a perfunctory manner before we get down to the “real business” ourselves.

When we do this, we treat God at worst like a vending machine, and at best like a benevolent bureaucrat waiting to rubber stamp all our plans and desires.

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What this type of praying tells me is that our spirituality is more religion than it is relationship. Or that it’s one-sided, at least, and we don’t really want to hear what God has to say. But if he is who he says he is and has our best interest always in mind (even if we don’t always recognize it as such); if Jesus is “the best and smartest man ever” as Dallas Willard says, and was God-in-flesh on earth; shouldn’t we listen to him? Shouldn’t we wait in prayer until we’ve heard his voice?

For God does speak–now one way, now another– though no one perceives it.” Job 33:14

May you and I be people who wait in listening prayer until we perceive his voice.

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