Tuesday, April 4, 2017

The Greater Work That Looks Like Less

The passages in James have been difficult for me. I'm a doer, but, as I've studied James, I've been deeply concerned that I don't "do" enough. 

What hungry person have I helped lately? What orphan? What widow? 

I've spent days feeling as if I'm at the bottom of a huge staircase of good works I'll never surmount. I've looked at people who are intentional about feeding programs and helping others, and I've wondered what else I should do to be more like them.

Of course, my comparison is not supposed to be with others. It's with Jesus. When I start comparing myself to other believers, it should raise a warning flag, but, this time, it didn't.

Yesterday, our staff devotion was from John 14, the "I am the way, the truth, and the life" passage. 

It also contains one of my favorite verses. "He who believes in Me, the works that I do shall he do also; and greater works than these shall he do; because I go to the Father." John 14:12 nasb

What works did Jesus do? Preached the gospel. Healed the sick. Raised the dead. Made the blind to see, the deaf to hear, the lame to walk. 

He did exciting, flashy miracles. I'd love to do those flashy miracles, too.

Yesterday, though, I saw this passage in a new way. A more Christ-like way.

This chapter didn't happen separate from the previous one. It happened during the Last Supper. At the beginning of the evening, Jesus had taken off his outer clothes, wrapped a cloth around his waist, found a basin and water, and washed the feet of the disciples. 

The King of Kings knelt by each man's dirty feet, lifted them into His soon-to-be-nail-scarred hands, and washed them.

If I do the works that Christ did, I need to start with the one most closely associated with His words. I need to humble myself and do the dirty, stinky, least attractive job that no one wants. I need to do it because of love. 

The "greater work" that Jesus did followed closely on the heels of the foot washing. He laid down His life and died for sinners like me. 

That was His greatest work. 

When I look at potential "good works," I prefer the flashy stuff. That's not the most important work, though. The greatest work Christ did was the most humiliating, self-sacrificing, agonizing work of all. 

The greater work of Jesus was the cross.

It makes John 14:12 look different, doesn't it?

Here's the Leanna paraphrase: "He who believes in Me will do the same kind of sacrificial, dying-to-self works that I did.  He'll humble himself and lay down his life for those he loves."

If I get that part right, I won't have to worry about doing more "good deeds." 

Today, let's do whatever God puts in our path to do, and do it with all our might, but let's also do the work of humbling ourselves and serving the way Christ did.

"Greater love has no one than this, that someone lay down his life for his friends." John 15:13 esv
In case you missed yesterday's post, here's the link: How to Have a Long and Satisfying Life

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