June 18, 2019
“The soldiers also came up and mocked him. They offered him wine vinegar and said, ‘If you are the king of the Jews, save yourself’” (Luke 23:36, NIV 1984).
Each of us should have a few very special friends in our lives. Dr. Mark Johnston is one of those for me. I love this man, and God has done amazing things through his life, none of which I will mention here. He and I have been serving together in an Albanian mission for Christ over the last 25 years. Mark has been feeling the call of God into an even deeper walk with Him. Not long ago, Mark’s pastor asked his church members to place on the altar a sacrifice, to give to God something that God would truly desire. As Mark was praying earnestly what sacrificial offering might please his Lord, he clearly heard the inaudible message, “How about significance?”
Perhaps, for some of us, the confidence that we are doing something significant for God is Satan’s best line of attack. So many faithful followers of Christ give so much in service to our King, and many of us wish to hear God tell us, “Well done”—and most of us don’t want to wait for heaven to hear these words.
Some of this desire for affirmation is good and Godly. I suspect Jesus was greatly strengthened by His Father’s words, “You are my son whom I love; with you I am well pleased” (Mark 1:11b, NIV 1984). But sometimes such a desire for significance becomes a work of pride and leads us away from God’s best plan for His kingdom. Shortly after Jesus heard this baptismal affirmation from His Father, Satan led Him to the mountain top and offered Him the kingdoms of the world. How much good might He do for those He loved with such an offer—how much more significance would such power bring than the words shouted to Him when all but John, the two Mary’s and Salome had deserted him, “He saved others…but he can’t save himself” (Mark 15:31, NIV 1984). How significant was a dead man on a cross?
Our God has placed within us this great desire to do something that matters. This desire can be used fully for God’s glory, or it can be possessed by the one who serves and transformed into the pride of possession and control. Dr. Johnston is not going to let that happen. Dr. Johnston lay that desire for affirmation on the altar and said, “If it is your will, let me do great things for you, but this is your decision, not mine.”
Use me as You will and let me not claim Your successes.