Kingdom Principle: Good works first require God working in you.
These are the top 10 reasons (excuses) I have heard as to why Christians don’t serve in various capacities. These reasons directly undermine the calling of the Church to change the world.
- 10-“I am not good at that”
- 9 – “I am not good with people”
- 8 – “I am not the example you want for others to look at”
- 7 – “Last time, it didn’t end well.”
- 6 – “Ask me at a later time”
- 5 – “I have never been asked”
- 4 – “I feel inadequate”
- 3 – “I already did that”
- 2 – “That is not for me”
- 1 – “I don’t have time”
But there is one answer you rarely/never hear is “I didn’t know that Christians are supposed to be about compassion or service” The Gospels are very clear that Jesus’ compassion moved him into action, and that he came to serve and not be served. Most of our efforts to decide if a work is good or not, is a wasted effort, rather we must focus on if an act is life giving. The transformative work of the Spirit is the bench mark of that which is life giving. Therefore a good work can be known by expressions of Compassion (patience, kindness goodness) combined with Service (faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). When we are lacking good works, it is not usually because we are ignorant of our calling, but because we are lacking the transformation of the spirit.
To lay a foundation of our calling to good works as an expression of our transformation, be reminded of these truths: You were designed to do good works (Eph 2:10), good works are the validity and expression of your faith, (James 1:26-2:26, Matt 5:16), to not do good works is to be enslaved by the world and its pleasures (Titus 3:1-10), we are not to complain when we work “harder” than others (Matt 20:1-16, Gal 6:9) and finally that at the end of time we will be held accountable for what we have done or not done. (Matt 25:31-46, 1 Cor. 3:8-15, Col 3:23-24)
Again, this post is not about convincing you to do good works, rather it is to ensure that what you do is a good work at all. Good works (based on the above scriptures) are not truly good, unless they are produced by the Spirit of God in you first. (John 3:19-21, 6:28-29, Romans 9:30-32, Phil 2:12-13) Therefore a truly good work is an overflow of God’s work pouring out of you. Compassion and Service flow as a result of Transformation both individually and as an expression of the body. It is a misguided effort of the church to seek transformation (in others) as a result of their good work of compassion and service. This faulty approach makes the goal of good work- transformation, rather than transformation being the foundation of good work. The good work is now dependent on another’s transformation, which will then result in credit being given to them rather than to the Father who produces the initial good work. Overcoming this cycle is the most difficult yet crucial aspect of servant leaders.
These questions can help you unravel the motivation your compassion & service /good works.
- Are you selective on whom you are compassionate? (if so based on what criteria)
- Do you feel compelled to fake compassion when it’s the “right” thing to do?
- Have you often wanted to get involved, but never see this want become a reality?
- How often have you thought, “Why should I keep serving, when no one, ever helps me out?”
- Who gets the credit when you act with compassion or service?
The Church is to be filled with Compassion & Service – as an overflowing expression of the transformation that Christ has set ablaze in our hearts through fellowship.
There is no price tag or self-gratification in compassion for as soon as there is, it ceases to be compassion. Compassion is passion in action. Service is work done for the good of others. A fruit is a result of a seed taking root and growing. So based on this thinking, good work is a fruit, based on the seed of the Holy Spirit growing into Compassion (patience, kindness goodness) and Service (faithfulness, gentleness, self-control). The doing of a good work is itself the reward for the person expressing it in action. As it is expressed – it directs the recipient and the spectator to the transformation in your life, not to your own goodness but rather to the Grace of Christ.
To increase the expression of compassion and service in your life, first stop trying to increase the expression of compassion and service in your life – instead increase your fellowship (intimacy) with Jesus and with those who are obviously rooted in the Spirit. Seek Transformation through the power of the Holy Spirit and trust that the fruit of this good work, will bring greater good works. Therefore:
- Receive the compassion of the Great Shepherd.(1 Peter 5:1-11) It is at the direction of Jesus that compassion comes and goes. Receiving compassion from Jesus can be found in Ps. 23 – let him lead you and restore you, be guided and comforted by his counsel, allow his anointing to be your confidence in all of life. In this you will be able to focus on what you have rather than what you lack. The world is trapped in the vice of comparison which cuts off compassion. Let the Lord be your shepherd such that you are not in want based on comparison.
- Release the Spirit of God to flow through you. When we remain focused on ourselves and our needs, the ability of God to flow through us is closed off. It is as a river dam shuts its gates being concerned only about its needs rather than looking at those “downstream”. The Church is to be an ever-flowing source of movement and power of the Holy Spirit – open the floodgates and let it flow. The clamps of our dam are typically time and pride (each of the 10 excuses touch on these), time is often measured in money, and pride is indicated by our comparison. The parable of the Good Samaritan (Luke 10:25-37) shows us how when we calculate and measure our money and allow comparison to justify our actions good work, ceases to flow. To release the flow – turn the table on the typical measurement of your money and comparison. Ask not if you have enough; rather declare my life is open as much as I can so that God has enough of me to flow through.
Finally 3. Recognize that your life is not your own. Christ laid his life down and took it up again, may we in obedience, seek to do the same. Obeying His commands is an act of love and in a sense we lay down our lives, then take them back up in obedience. Obedience is not “good works”, for in obedience you are choosing as an act of your will to do that which Christ is commanding – to Love others. When you love others, as an act of obedience – we are to hope and desire for transformation in them. Obedience is Good and it is Work, (love is not always easy) but may we no longer settle for obedience as our only good work. Rather might we have good works (compassionate service) as an overflowing expression of the fruit of the Spirit that is in us, and in addition to that may we be obedient to the command to love others in all we do and say.