What thrills me the most?
Seems like an innocent enough question. What harm could there be in something that thrills me? Well, if you are like I am, plenty. I have found that there is a fine line between something safely being enjoyed and something captivating my heart and mind. What I enjoy the most can subtly become an idol in my life if I’m not careful.
These subtle snares are most tempting because we find them plentiful in our everyday lives. It usually can be found in what we are gifted to do. Whether it is decorating or fitness, career or ministry, homeschooling or volunteering, what we enjoy the most reveals a great deal about us.
Just ask the disciples!
What delighted the disciples?
Continuing to read through the Gospels from last year, I find myself in Luke 10:1-20 ESV where Jesus gives a great lesson. He has just sent the disciples out for important work. This task was God-given to the disciples yet it carries with it a warning for all of us. There is something important Christ wants to remind us of lest we fall victim to a common temptation – delighting TOO MUCH in the wrong thing or NOT ENOUGH in the right thing.
The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” Luke 10:17
The disciples were obviously excited about what had happened as they ventured out on their own in ministry. They had spent many months witnessing all the effects of Jesus’ ministry so now it was their turn.Am I delighting too much in the wrong things or not enough in the right things? Click To Tweet
Sure enough, He had sent them fully equipped to do what He commanded. They went out in the power and authority necessary to accomplish the goals they had been given.
Even though they were aware of the fruit of labor that was appointed them, seeing it first hand was thrilling! In all honesty, they were AMAZED and told Jesus so. It is very compelling to ponder His reply to them.
Of all the things He could have said, He chose this.
And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” Luke 10:18-20 ESV
Why the warning?
Talk about an immediate rebuttal! Why would Jesus be such a party-pooper when all the disciples were doing was celebrating their fruit from ministry?
Because of the scandal that had split heaven wide open that’s why!!
There was too much at stake to risk anything like that happening again.
The first words out of Jesus’ mouth almost seem odd- “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven”. He did not congratulate the disciples, tell them job well done, pat them on the back or anything. He just warned them. So that tells me that this warning is serious business that better be heeded!
The Back Story
The “head demon” was Satan himself but he had not started out that way. Because Jesus is using this example tells me that Satan’s “fall” had something to do with either rejoicing in the wrong thing or not rejoicing in the right thing. Maybe even both.
Isaiah 14:12-14 gives more insight into this event.
How you have fallen from heaven,
morning star, son of the dawn!
You have been cast down to the earth,
you who once laid low the nations!
You said in your heart,
“I will ascend to the heavens;
I will raise my throne
above the stars of God;
I will sit enthroned on the mount of assembly,
on the utmost heights of Mount Zaphon.
I will ascend above the tops of the clouds;
I will make myself like the Most High.”
From what I can see, Satan was an effective, powerful servant of God until it all began to go to his head. He no longer wanted to be the servant but the Master. The authority he had been given, along with the success that came from that privilege, stole his heart/mind from rejoicing in the right thing- God.
Gifting, service, and success have a way of stealing our affection from the Giver of such blessings.Gifting, service, and success have a way of stealing our affection from the Giver of such blessings. Click To Tweet
Why is it dangerous?
Left unchecked, the success from God’s opportunities can grow into idolatry. We can shift from being thrilled by the Lord to becoming captivated by the blessings He gives us. Our heart’s desire becomes focused on the abilities or experiences He grants. It’s almost like we let go of God in the process of fulfilling His purpose for us.
The purpose of God for each of us is unique but it does come with common characteristics. By being observant of these commonalities, we can be on guard against the danger to rejoice more in the fruit from our labor for Christ rather than Christ Himself.
3 Clues to Help Us Know Where to be on Guard
- It’s what we are called to do. Luke 10:1-3 teaches us that Jesus called His disciples to this task. “After this, the Lord appointed seventy-two others and sent them two by two ahead of him to every town and place where he was about to go……..Go! I am sending you out….”. Whether we are called to ministry, families, or careers, He has a purpose for us in that. The danger lies in allowing our hearts to rejoice too much in the talents and abilities He has given us. When we see our successes, we can become tempted to over-focus on them. The attention from God-given opportunities, the thrill of walking out our calling in life, these can become all-consuming and thrilling to us.
- It’s what we are equipped to do. Whom God calls, He also equips (Luke 10:5-12). So if God calls us to be in careers for His glory, He grants us the abilities to do that with excellence. If He calls us to be mothers, He gives us the privilege of little ones to care for and protect. If He calls us to ministry, then He grants us opportunities to serve others through spiritual giftings. When we have God’s ability to do God’s bidding, then we will experience life beyond what we can do in and of ourselves. In those moments, it can be extremely fulfilling to experience. Thus the temptation to become overly captivated with our God-given abilities.
- It’s what we are excited to do. When we are called and equipped to fulfill God’s purpose, it is only natural that we will experience excitement over the opportunities, privileges, and successes from that. How can it not be thrilling to become a mother or a valued employee or fruitful in ministry? It’s not that being excited to do what we are called and equipped to do is wrong. It is when we allow that to become more of a thrill in our lives than Jesus is to us. God-given results should never become more enjoyable than our own relationship with the Savior.
None of these areas are a danger in and of themselves. It is only when we allow them to become over-emphasized that we risk the warning Jesus is talking about.
Come back for my next post that finishes up this topic by helping us identify how we can know our own individual risk at stake.