We know God wants our lives to be joyful and not a burden, but if you are like me there has been more than one occasion where life has not felt like that. Here is a great excerpt from one of my favorite books that illustrates this perfectly.
– Pastor Trevor Steenbakkers
On Being a Servant of God
by Warren Wiersbe
The trouble with too many of us is that we think God called us to be manufacturers when He really called us to be distributors. He alone has the resources to meet human needs; all we can do is receive His riches and share them with others. “Silver and gold I do not have,” Peter announced, “but what I do have I give you” (Acts 3:6). When it comes to ministry, all of us are bankrupt, and only God is rich. Like Paul, we are “as poor, yet making many rich” (2 Corinthians 6:10).
The miracle of Christ’s feeding the five thousand comes to mind, the only miracle of Christ that is recorded in all four Gospels (Matthew 14:15–21; Mark 6:35–44; Luke 9:12–17; John 6:1–14). When the disciples saw more than five thousand hungry people before them, they didn’t know what to do; but they made their suggestions just the same. As yet, they didn’t really know how poor they were!
First, they advised Jesus to avoid the problem by sending the crowd home. Where was their compassion The Lord knew that the people were hungry and could never make the journey, so He rejected that plan. By the way, we are often tempted in ministry to get rid of the very people God wants us to help. The disciples did it more than once (Matthew 15:21–28; 19:13–15).
Philip admitted that there wasn’t enough money on hand to buy food to feed such a big crowd, so a bigger budget wasn’t the answer. (Most people think that having more money to spend is the solution to every problem.) Then Andrew found a boy with a small lunch of five barley loaves and two fish, a food supply totally inadequate to meet the need. “But what are they among so many?” Andrew asked (John 6:9), and the answer is, “Of themselves, they are nothing.”
The disciples were trying to be manufacturers. They thought that it was their responsibility to come up with the money or the food or some clever way to solve the problem. But all the while, “He Himself knew what He would do” ( John 6:6). Jesus needed His disciples, not as manufacturers but as distributors. He took the lad’s lunch, looked up to heaven, blessed the food, broke it, and put it into the disciples’ hands for them to feed the hungry multitude. The multiplication took place in His hands; the distribution was the work of the disciples’ hands.
Once you accept yourself as a distributor of God’s riches and not a manufacturer, you will experience a wonderful new freedom and joy in service. You won’t be afraid of new challenges because you now God has the resources to meet them. You won’t be frustrated trying to manufacture everything needed to get the job done; and when God blesses your work, you won’t be tempted to take the credit. Dr. Bob Cook used to remind us in our Youth for Christ ministry, “If you can explain what’s going on, God didn’t do it!” That sounds like the experience of the Jews recorded in Psalm 126:1,3 “ We were like those who dream… The Lord has done great things for us, and we are glad”. How do you explain a miracle? You don’t! You just receive it and share it and let God have all the glory.
What are the divine resources that God makes available to His servants for their ministry? The word that best summarizes it is the familiar word grace: “And of His fullness we have all received, and grace for grace” (John 1:16). The image here seems to be that of an ocean, with wave after wave coming in to shore in unending fullness. I’m reminded of the poor woman who had her first view of the ocean and stood on the shore weeping. When asked why she was weeping, she replied, “It’s so good to see something that there’s plenty of!”
You don’t earn grace, and you don’t deserve grace; you simply receive it as God’s loving gift and then share it with others. In ministry, we are channels of God’s resources, not reservoirs: “Give, and it will be given to you: good measure, pressed down, shaken together, and running over will be put into your bosom. For with the same measure that you use, it will be measured back to you” (Luke 6:38). It’s a basic law of the kingdom of God that the servants who know how poor they are become the richest, and those who give the most receive the most and therefore have the most to give.
Because we have a “manufacturer mentality,” we’re prone to epend on our own resources, things like experience, training , money, talent, and education. God can sanctify and use these assets, but they become liabilities apart from the grace of God. With all of his abilities and training , the apostle Paul knew that the secret of his effective ministry was the grace of God. “But by the grace of God I am what I am,” he wrote to the Corinthians. “I labored more abundantly than they all, yet not I, but the grace of God which was with me” (1 Corinthians 15:10). By God’s grace, Paul was what he was, and Paul did what he did.
As God’s children and God’s servants, we can draw upon the riches of His grace (Ephesians 1:7; 2:7), the riches of His glory (Ephesians 3:16; Philippians 4:19), unsearchable riches (Ephesians 3:8), the riches of His mercy (Ephesians 2:4), the riches of His wisdom (Rom. 11:33), and much more: “And God is able to make all grace abound toward you, that you, always having all sufficiency in all things, may have an abundance for every good work” (2 Corinthians 9:8).
So, one of the first steps we must take before our service can be used of God is to confess our bankruptcy and receive by faith the grace that we need for acceptable service. Just as we were saved by grace, through faith (Ephesians 2:8–9), so we must work by grace, through faith, as we seek to minister. Only then can God work in and through us for His glory.