Play Your Part
"Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ."
Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
What part—large or small—is the Lord asking you to play in the places where He has planted you? Do you know the role you are to take? Are you fighting against it? Do you find it difficult?
Why might playing your part in these places be so hard for you? Is it because in some of them, you were expecting to be the star, but you’ve found that you were called to be the supporting cast? Is it because in some of those spheres, it meant you were going to have to be hurt in order to prove how much God is a healer? Is it because in denying yourself, God wants the world to see that He is the one who supplies all your need?
What is so hard about having to give up some things, or walk away from some things, or think less about some things, or not love some things at the same level that you ought to love God? What can you ever possess that, if God required it, would be too hard for you to give up so that you could have exactly what God is designing for you?
How important is it that you surrender to doing your part? Would it change your perspective to know that your part is attached to redemptive and salvific plans that help to create uncluttered space for Jesus to work in?
All I’m trying to tell you is this: play your part. Somebody else’s role won’t fit you. Only yours.
The only way you advance your life is to accept your calling, to appropriate your gifts, and then to spend your life playing your part. Epictetus was wise in saying, “Remember, you are an actor in a drama of such sort as the Author chooses…. For this is your business—to act well the given part.”
God has a role for each one of us to play. He gives gifts to each of us to do it faithfully and to make a difference and to share and spread His glory. Part of the excitement ought to be in the fact that God even chose us to play a part in His divine drama, that He’s equipped us to do it in order to make a difference in this world.
So live with gratitude, master your lines, find your place on stage, and play your part.
Trusting God’s Timing
So he said, “These are the horns that scattered Judah, so that no one could lift up his head;
but the craftsmen are coming to terrify them, to cast out the horns of the nations that lifted up their horn against the land of Judah to scatter it.”
Zechariah 1:21 (NKJV)
Faith in God is not just appreciating God’s sacrifice of His only Son, His adoption of us into His royal family, and His redemption that brought our salvation. Faith in God is also trusting His timing.
That timing often includes burdens before blessing, silence before speech, ambivalence before revelation, struggle before success, and “not enough” before “more than enough.”
God’s timing is eternal and not reactive. God leads our lives with precise and intended timing. But part of that right timing can include growth, maturation, and the receipt of power only on the back end of severe threat, challenge, conflict, and confrontation.
Zechariah the prophet had a vision of four horns symbolizing nations that attacked Judah and scattered her. But before there was a chance for the threat of these strong horns to sink in, the prophet also saw four craftsmen. These craftsmen are used by God to overthrow the horns that have threatened and scattered Judah.
I suggest that this text is attempting to teach us that there are times when you have to see threatening horns before you witness defending craftsmen. In other words, we need to be reminded and become convicted of the truth that there are times you can’t fully appreciate the power of God to deliver without the feeling of—and the experience of—the pain of being scattered.
Judah can only appreciate the deliverance from 70 years of captivity because of how hard those years were and what those years demanded. But in the end, to watch God deliver, to watch God destroy every enemy and every threat and return them to their land, restore them to their history, resource them for their protection, and revive them so that they are renewed—it all points to the fact that God rightly defines the timing for everything.
The question that all of us have to wrestle with is, do we trust that God is better able than we are to define right timing?
Trusting the timing of God is strongly linked to our knowledge of—and faith in—His person, His goodness, His power, and His protection.
Will you trust God’s timing in your life today?
"And [Joseph] did not know her till she had brought forth her firstborn Son."
Matthew 1:25 (NKJV)
Famed hymn writer and theologian Frederick Faber is right when he says that holiness is “unselfing” ourselves. To me that explains this text in which Joseph wouldn't touch Mary until God finished delivering Jesus through her.
Shrouded in suspicion around the community, with lives interrupted by divine invasion in human affairs, Joseph had his mind made up to divorce Mary quietly. He thought, “Whatever this thing is that she has going on with God, who am I to interfere?” It seems to me like a selfless and noble plan on Joseph’s part.
Joseph goes to sleep firmly settled in his plan to quietly divorce Mary, and while he sleeps, he discovers how much he himself is an intricate part of God's plan for human redemption. God edits his dreams, telling him not to divorce Mary, but to physically father this human Gift that would bring redemption to an otherwise condemned creation.
Joseph awakens the next morning to immediately obey God's plans. And verse 25 gives us insight into the selflessness he took upon himself in being part of the greater plan. It simply says this: “And [Joseph] did not know her until she brought forth her firstborn son.” That means they had no deep intimate connections spanning the time from conception until after it was safe for her post-delivery.
Here is the point: Joseph bought into the dream. He accepted his role in it and also accepted the fact that part of that role was to live in a strange space where his faithfulness was measured by denying his natural passion. Restraining what was a part of his intense love for his new bride, his response to the invitation to offer God his life in service was stewarded for a season by self-denial.
Today, God is calling you to “unself” yourself as part of His bigger plan to bless the world. When you deny yourself (which can take a thousand different forms at any point in your life), take up your cross, and follow Jesus, you are participating in a master plan that is so much bigger than you imagine.
Gains and Losses
So Jesus answered and said, “Assuredly, I say to you, there is no one who has left house or brothers or sisters or father or mother or wife or children or lands, for My sake and the gospel’s, who shall not receive a hundredfold now in this time—houses and brothers and sisters and mothers and children and lands, with persecutions—and in the age to come, eternal life.
Mark 10:29-30 (NKJV)
Whatever you have lost in life has no bearing on what God is still able to supply. What’s gone in your life doesn’t count against what God can still yet give. There is a lot that carries expiration dates in our lives, but God’s presence and God’s promises have no expiration date attached to them. He can give you much more than anything you have lost in your life.
• No effort to restore or reconcile anything in your life.
• No physical or emotional investment you have ever made.
• No forgiveness or energy or assistance that you’ve offered.
• No treatment or exercise or therapy that you’ve committed time to.
Nothing has taken so much from you that God can’t give you much more than you have dispensed.
I don’t care how swiftly it made its departure. I don’t care how quickly Satan descended and took it from you. I’m here to tell you, your God can give you much more than you have lost.
That’s the power of God’s eternal might. That’s the endless nature of God’s divine resources. That’s the borderless reality of our human possibilities. That’s the divine power of our God’s sovereignty. That’s the majestic nature of God’s creativity. That’s the security of God’s living covenant. That’s the height and breath, width and depth of God’s love. That’s exactly what He means when He says, “I’ll never leave you, and I’ll never forsake you. I’ll be with you always, even until the end of the age.”
I don’t know what decision you are contemplating in which the potential losses are weighing heavy against the call of faith to take the leap. Don’t let your life be limited by the prospect of your losses.
You serve a God who promises that He can give you much more than you will ever lose!
A Legitimate Question
Amaziah asked the man of God, “But what about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?"
2 Chronicles 25:9 (NIV)
We all have said it. We’ve all have thought it. We all have emoted it when we’re about to take that necessary next step in life, whatever it may require. It is this question: “But what about all that I’ve lost?”
This was the question that young King Amaziah of Judah asked the man of God concerning all the silver he had sent to Israel to buy the services of mercenaries in order to strengthen his army. His plan to hire men from Israel seemed like a good idea until a man of God showed up and told Amaziah not to accept any assistance from Israel. Why? Because Israel’s spirituality at the time was so fragile that it would create access points in the hedge of protection that God would form securely around Judah.
Amaziah’s response was to be instantly obedient. He did not waiver, not one bit. He understood the consequences of not obeying God and the corresponding threat that would come with spiritual disobedience, guaranteeing their sure defeat in battle.
But he does ask a relevant question. He asks the man of God, “What about the hundred talents I paid for these Israelite troops?” In other words, “What should I do about the money that I’m going to lose?”
Let’s be honest. It was an important question. None of us want to feel like we’ve lost precious time or resources to meaningless connections or experiences. None of us like feeling vulnerable or open to attack. It’s a draining feeling that unearths personal regret. It can release an onslaught of anger and rage. It gives that arrogant voice of failure way too much proximity.
I don’t like to think about what I’ve lost in life by chasing ventures that never went anywhere, trusting people that weren’t worth my time, paying attention to things that weren’t worth paying attention to, or languishing around thoughts that should never have been permitted to persist. To feel like I’ve lost anything smells of failure. Can you relate?
We wonder, “Will certain opportunities ever come back? Have I just given away what I can never recapture? Will I ever get it back?” These questions are real and legitimate. The response that the man of God gives can encourage all of us who have experienced significant loss:
“The Lord is able to give you much more than you’ve lost.”
Don’t allow yourself to be stuck pondering your losses. Instead, stand squarely and securely on the promise that your God is able to give you much more than you have lost—or will ever lose.