The Big “I”
Did you ever notice how many times the letter “i” is found in the word, responsibilities?—4 times! Excessive, don’t you think? No wonder we tend to think that fulfilling all our responsibilities depends on us. Since we do not form theology on numbers and letters, it is good to sort out the relationship between us and the things for which we are responsible.
Responsibility vs. Power.
Many people seek power; others accept responsibility. These are not the same thing. Power is the partner of pride. Responsibility is the ally of humility. There cannot be a wider gap between two attitudes. The Jesus way is to accept responsibility; the devil’s way is to seek power. The Scriptures make it clear: God resists the proud and gives grace to the humble.
The sources of human power range from physical prowess, to political position, to financial force, to intellectual influence. All this power is rooted in a fallen, but still able, human capacity to desire, plan, and produce. Personal power is essentially selfish and self-sustaining using any means available. Pragmatism, not principle, pushes the protagonist from deed to deed, drama to drama without concern those who get stepped on from scene to scene.
Responsibility only gets headlines when connected to crimes. Indeed, the life of responsibility in the things of both time and eternity begins when one accepts responsibility for one’s sins. We do not blame parents, or teachers, or culture; we accept the blame ourselves. With godly sorrow comes repentance and then, amazingly, forgiveness from the Throne of God and of the Lamb.
Soon, this new creature, forgiven and filled with the Spirit of God, seeks not power, but responsibility.
Jesus, Use Me!
The old song said it well…
Jesus, use me. And, oh, Lord don’t refuse me.
Surely there’s a work that I can do.
And even though it’s humble, Lord help my will to crumble,
Though the cost be great, I’ll work for you. (Jack Campbell)
Salvation brings a desire to serve. All of life is redefined according to the teaching of Jesus:
- The desire to come in first becomes the desire to put Jesus first.
- The desire to be a star becomes the desire to be a servant.
- The desire to lead becomes the desire to be led by the Spirit.
- The desire to be in the driver’s seat becomes the joy of being a passenger, liberated from watching the road and seeing the world rush by the window while the sky lingers in the distance.
Taking Up Our Cross
Just as Jesus carried the cross, we shoulder the will of God for our lives, the set of responsibilities we are privileged to carry in the will of God for us. Sometimes there is pain because we are sharing in the fellowship of His sufferings. Sometimes there is breathtaking joy as we see the work of the Spirit of God being done in the arena of our calling. All the time there are our responsibilities, not burdened with “I’s”, but joyfully blessed with His—His strength, His wisdom, His victory, and His approval.
James 4:6 NKJV
“God resists the proud, But gives grace to the humble.”
2 Corinthians 7:10-11 10 NKJV
For godly sorrow produces repentance leading to salvation, not to be regretted; but the sorrow of the world produces death.
… “If anyone would come after me, he must deny himself and take up his cross and follow me. For whoever wants to save his life will lose it, but whoever loses his life for me and for the gospel will save it. What good is it for a man to gain the whole world, yet forfeit his soul? Or what can a man give in exchange for his soul?
… Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
…Jesus called them together and said, “You know that those who are regarded as rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their high officials exercise authority over them. Not so with you. Instead, whoever wants to become great among you must be your servant, and whoever wants to be first must be slave of all. For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for many.”
Therefore, brothers, we have an obligation…(to live) by the Spirit … because those who are led by the Spirit of God are sons of God. For you did not receive a spirit that makes you a slave again to fear, but you received the Spirit of sonship. And by him we cry, “Abba, Father.” The Spirit himself testifies with our spirit that we are God’s children… heirs of God and co-heirs with Christ, if indeed we share in his sufferings in order that we may also share in his glory.
“His master replied, ‘Well done, good and faithful servant! You have been faithful with a few things; I will put you in charge of many things. Come and share your master’s happiness!’
I want to know Christ and the power of his resurrection and the fellowship of sharing in his sufferings, becoming like him in his death, and so, somehow, to attain to the resurrection from the dead.
Lord Jesus, I want my life to count for You—I want what I do in my time on earth to matter in eternity. . Help me follow Your example and shun power while welcoming responsibility. Help me be the kind of person others can depend upon. Give me broad shoulders so I can carry the load You want me to carry. Give me a careful mind so I can remember the right things and forget the things best forgotten. Give me a caring heart so that I can be sensitive to others and to Your Spirit. Defend me against distractions that would get me off the job You have given me to do. Keep me focused on You and the work of Your Kingdom today. In Jesus’ Name, Amen.
Jesus, Use Me
Words and Music: Jack Campbell
Jesus, use me, o Lord, don’t refuse me,
Surely there’s a work that I can do.
Even tho’ it’s humble Lord help my will to crumble,
Tho’ the cost be great, I’ll work for You.
V. 1 Dear lord I’ll be a witness, if You will help my weakness.
I know that i’m not worthy, Lord, of You.
By eyes of faith I see You, on the cross of cal-v’ry,
Dear Lord, I cry, “let me Your servant be”
V.2 He’s the Lily of the ValleyThe Bright and Morning Star
He’s the Fairest of ten thousand to my soul’
He’s the beautiful Rose of Sharon, he’s all the world to me,
But best of all He is my coming King
© 2017 Stephen R. Phifer All Rights Reserved