Natural human love expects something in return. To sacrifice for you, you must first be really special to me, and then I also expect to be reciprocated for what I did. But in this Scripture, Paul was willing to give it all…that I may be able to get you to God. The real test here isn’t one’s willingness to teach or preach, but one’s willingness to serve. Service to others takes our time, energy, and emotional strength. It encroaches on our personal space…robs us of “me” time, and turns our carefully crafted schedules upside-down. Expending yourself for the Gospel… helping, and supporting others is a thankless job by human estimation…but it’s counted as everything in the eternity of God.
Earlier in this chapter Paul asks the question, “Who shall separate us from the love of Christ?” (Romans 8:35) His answer here is – no one or thing can possibly come between us and Jesus. No rule or force of man…no point in time…no act of good or evil can ever cut the tie we have with our Lord. The bottom line is, there is nothing in creation that can keep us apart from God…for the entirety of creation is under His authority.
We look at the chaos today and we think the world is totally out of control. But Proverbs 21:1 reminds us, “The king’s heart is in the hand of the Lord; He directs it like a watercourse wherever He pleases.” Pharaoh foolishly thought he was the most powerful man in the world…arrogantly thinking that no one could usurp his authority. But Pharaoh wasn’t aware that the Lord was directing him and that he was just a pawn in God’s bigger picture. For God tells Moses in Exodus 7:3, “But I will harden Pharaoh’s heart…” And in Romans 9: 17 Paul goes on to explain, “For the Scripture says to Pharaoh: ‘ I raised you up for this very purpose, that I might display My power in you and that My name might be proclaimed in all the earth.’ ” So as we see the turmoil around us, we need to remember that the mighty hand of the Lord hasn’t changed…He still rules and reigns over all…He’s still in control.
These scriptures beg the question…”What are You asking of me Lord?” Foremost, Jesus is asking for commitment. Not just lip service, or Sunday only acknowledgement… No, He’s asking for sold-out, unwavering determination to follow Him no matter the cost. Jesus is also asking for conviction. That’s a gut belief that He died on the Cross and rose again for me so that I may have eternal life. Then too, Jesus is asking for conformity. He wants me to become more like Him. Finally, Jesus is asking that I give up control. Now this is probably the most frightening but the most freeing request of His…For to go deeper with Jesus means releasing command of myself and trusting Him more.
As we learned from the Devotional yesterday, we have this great and wonderful treasure in jars of clay. But just like those breakable vessels, our mortal body can be stronger than we can imagine. You see, those clay jars withstood outside pressure and remained durable and lasting for hundreds of years…and so can we. This verse promises us that we can be troubled but not overwhelmed by it…confused but not to the point of hopelessness…harassed and bullied but never forsaken by our Heavenly Father. You are a jar of clay, but one tough, resilient, and tenacious jar – holding an unspeakable treasure within.
The very source of all truth comes from God. No one teaches or advises Him. He is the Supreme Ruler of both heaven and earth…and He governs justly to all. No one is like our God, not one. And for those who put their trust in Him…there is the promise of eternal life.
The requirements of the Lord are many in this scripture. The prerequisites He has laid out are strict, fundamental, but necessary. If we want to see God moving in this world…we need to fulfill our part in this scripture first. For it says, “Then will I hear from heaven and will forgive their sin and will heal their land.” We do our part…then He’ll do His.