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::Devotional:: ‘The More The Merrier – Not So Much’

October 22, 2010

‘The more the merrier!” Have you ever said that in reference to anything?  When it comes to home team fans at a sporting event, the more the merrier.  When Christmas morning rolls around and you pull out the presents with your name on them, the more the merrier.  When you realize you accidentally set your alarm clock ahead an hour and you have more time to sleep, the more the merrier.  How about when it comes to serving the Lord in various areas of ministry?  The more the merrier?  Not so much.

Before I go any further let me say that I am in no way attempting to discourage anyone from serving the Lord.  What I am attempting to do is share a lesson I learned over the past few years that I believe is beneficial to other believers growing in the Lord..

Allow me to share my immaturity in the Lord for a moment as a bit of a background to this devotional.  Several years ago I was under the impression, without even realizing it, that the more ministries I was involved in the more spiritually mature I was.  What I came to discover is that many of the things I had said yes to under the guise of ‘following the Lord’ was actually because I was following my own pride.  I wanted to do more because it made me feel more important.

At one time I was leading youth groups, teaching Sunday School, running the sound system for two services, making copies of sermon cds, updating the church website, working at a Christian school, teaching two Bible classes five days a week, and the list goes on and on.  I felt like the longer the list of things I was doing for the Lord the more mature I’d become.  Not so much.

There was another factor that motivated me to say ‘yes’ to just about any opportunity somebody would put in front of me to serve the Lord; fear.  I was afraid that if I said no to something people would think that I was a weak believer.  I was afraid that turning down and opportunity to serve in ministry would mean that people would look down on me as a Christian.  Maybe they’d think I was backsliding.  Maybe they’d think I was being consumed by my own sin.  Maybe they’d think I wasn’t even a Christian.  Foolish thoughts?  Yes, but they were there nonetheless, and they motivated me to say ‘yes’ to just about everything.

Let me explain the immaturity of this mindset I had adopted in just a few bullet points:

  • My service had become an idol and I was more concerned with how much I could do rather than why I was doing it.
  • I misunderstood that any opportunity presented within a church or by another Christian is an opportunity from the Lord.
  • I was deceived by the enemy in thinking that my need for acknowledgment would be fulfilled by the acknowledgments of people rather than the acknowledgments of God.
  • I was not able to discern the voice of the Holy Spirit from among other voices including my own pride and the petitions of other people.

If we are to be led by the spirit we have to listen to the spirit.  There are things he will direct us to say ‘yes’ to outside the church and things he will direct us to say ‘no’ to within the church.  We have to have listening ears to discern one from the other.  Consider the Apostle Paul.  Paul’s sole purpose was to carry the message of the Gospel to the Jew and to the Gentile.  He had been given that assignment directly by the Lord Jesus and he was a man determined to carry that out.  He traveled all over the Ancient Near East preaching the Gospel and establishing churches.  Yet, in the midst of his second missionary journey, with his heart set on bringing the Gospel to Asia, the Holy Spirit stepped in and said ‘No’.

Paul and his companions traveled throughout the region of Phrygia and Galatia, having been kept by the Holy Spirit from preaching the word in the province of Asia.  When they came to the border of Mysia, they tried to enter Bithynia, but the Spirit of Jesus would not allow them to.  So they passed by Mysia and went down to Troas.  Acts 16:6-8

Let’s get our bearings here for a moment.  Paul was not headed to Asia for ungodly reasons.  He was not looking to enter Bithynia because there was a sale on canvas and tent pegs. (Paul was a tentmaker by trade and a Pharisee by education)  He was headed to those places to share the Gospel and establish churches as he had been commissioned by the Lord.  But the Lord was saying ‘no’.  Why?

Let’s examine the next few verses.

During the night Paul had a vision of a man of Macedonia standing and begging him, “Come over to Macedonia and help us.”  After Paul had seen the vision, we got ready at once to leave for Macedonia, concluding that God had called us to the preach the gospel to them.  Acts 16:9-10

Why had the Holy Spirit been blocking the way to Asia?  That’s right, because he wanted Paul and his companions to go to Macedonia.  Notice that Paul recognized the ‘no’ of the Holy Spirit in Acts 16:6-8 just as much as he recognized the ‘yes’ in Acts 16:9-10.

Allow me to let you in on a secret that I would have liked someone to share with me several years ago.  The Holy Spirit is not directing you to say ‘yes’ to everything nor is he directing you to say ‘no’ to everything either.  Is it possible that he’s directing you to say no to a ministry at church and say yes to a committee at work or vice versa?  I don’t know you’ll have to ask him.  But make sure you ask him and wait for his answer before you simply say ‘yes’ or ‘no’.

There’s a great difference between being an available man or woman of God and being a puppet of people….One of the marks of maturity is the ability to say no without explanation.” ChuckSwindoll, from the book ‘Hand Me Another Brick’

Spiritual maturity is not about saying ‘yes’ or ‘no’ to everything it’s about having the spiritual discernment to know which answer to give and when.  We can’t listen to the spirit if we don’t spend time in God’s word and in prayer.

-Stay Rooted Col. 2:7-

 

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