Serve God, Not the World
When God created Adam and Eve it was because He wanted to love them. Their gifts and talents were part of God’s plan for their lives. He gave them the assignments to subdue the earth, fill the earth, and to multiply all He had given them using those very same gifts and talents. They were to govern the earth, representing or “re-presenting” Him by bringing the culture and ways of the kingdom of God and its King to earth. It was a task so vast and so great that was to be handed down from generation to generation until Jesus returns to rule and reign from Jerusalem. Utilizing the gifts God gives is part of that plan.
Upon creation, God looked at Adam and Eve in wonder. The Word says that they were “fearfully and wonderfully made.” The word “fearfully” is the Hebrew word yare (Strong’s H3372). It means, “to fear, morally, to revere, reverence, and awe, dread as in powerful.” It is the same word David used to describe God in Psalm 33:8 saying, “Let all the earth fear [yare’] the Lord; let all the inhabitants stand in awe of Him.”
So powerful was the likeness of man to God that God Himself was in awe of them. How’s that for value? And before they could accomplish a single thing for Him, while still fresh upon the very ground they were formed from, God breathed the greatest pronouncement of His truth over their being saying, “very good.” Their worth was not in their accomplishments, but who He created them to be. He stood back viewing them in reverent awe. Imagine for a moment, God conceiving you in His mind as a product of His greatest vision, standing back and saying, “very good!” before you could do a single thing to earn those words.
Who You Are, Not What You Can Do
God has given gifts to His children to accomplish in His authority and strength what He is sending them to do. Tessa Afshar illustrates this beautifully in her moving novel Harvest of Rubies. She tells the story of a truth-telling conversation between Sarah, a girl utilizing her gifts to gain love, respect, and position, and her gentle uncle Nehemiah, the cupbearer to the king who shares God’s truth that set her free. “Listen” in on that conversation and allow the Holy Spirit to lead you into personal truth. Nehemiah starts off the penetrating conversation:
“I could see that learning to read gave you a sense of accomplishment and a new attachment to your father. I believed the Lord had given you the talent for a reason. Whenever I spent time in your company, I was struck anew by how precious you are. But you could not see it.”
My eyes grew round with wonder. He thought I was special?
“But you wrapped your whole soul around your work. You established yourself in court and became the queen’s favored servant. But did you feel secure and happy? Did your success give you peace?”
I choose not to answer, and he pressed on.
“Do you know why not? Because you were out of step with God’s design. God’s design includes the use of our talents. But do you think the Lord counted them worthy because of their abilities?” he went on, ignoring my restlessness. “They hadn’t even begun their work yet when He made His first pronouncement over them. He called them very good when they hadn’t achieved a single thing. They hadn’t proven themselves capable. He pronounced them good not because of what they had accomplished, but because of who He made them be.”
I felt myself freeze as I heard those words. I had never thought of God’s response to Adam and Eve in those terms. Nehemiah was right. God counted them as good already, before they had done anything worthwhile.
Nehemiah nodded his head, as though he perceived that I was finally beginning to comprehend his meaning. “This is a life of right order, Sarah. The heart that knows the Lord as the source of its beauty and value knows freedom. You have lost yourself in the gifts God gave you. Those blessings have become your master.
“When your inmost being is in step with the right order of God, you reap His rest. Your soul tastes of His peace. Instead, your inner world produced turmoil, because you lost sight of who you really were. You lived in fear. Fear that you should prove dissatisfactory. For years, I have watched you live a disordered life. You’ve placed your intellect, your ability to learn faster than most, your quickness of thought and understanding at the core of your life. This was never the Lord’s purpose for you.
“My child, the Lord’s care for you has never depended on what you achieve. You were created for His love, not to be His work mule. Your accomplishments are meant to be a response to that love; instead, you have made love a response to your accomplishments. The steadfast love of the Lord for you never ceases. Never, Sarah.
“I will always have my standing before the Lord as His child. I will always know I can go to Him and be welcomed. That is who I am. My work is a small part of me—an assignment from God. Whether He gives it or take it away, it will not change how He perceives me.
“This is what I want you to learn about yourself, Sarah.”
Nehemiah’s words burned in my mind: That is who I am. My work is . . . an assignment from God. I did not have the ability to rest in the Lord’s opinion of me. I had built my own measures of worth and acceptability. They were false; they destroyed my peace. It dawned on me just how doggedly I served these measures. I served them with more fierce determination than I served God. I wanted the good opinion of others more than I wanted the Lord.
Who could set the heart free but God? “Lord,” I cried out, in my mind. “You look at the heart. Please forgive me for serving the false masters of my soul. Help me to please only You.” I thought for a moment and then emended my prayers. “Help me to want to please only You.”
I ran out of words. Somehow, in the quiet aftermath of my prayers, I grew still in my soul. It was a healing stillness.
The character, Sarah, deals with what believers deal with nearly every day in this social media, super-success-oriented society. But as she came back to her true core value in God, there was a quiet. The truth was a sword that cut off that second head and its nattering arguments. The only voice that spoke was the quiet one that was in step with truth and peace. Her heart was no longer divided between the love of the world and the love of God. Her loyalty was settled once more upon Him.
The prophet Isaiah wrote that those who turn back to the Lord as their source of value, who give Him their whole heart, will find quiet, rest, and peace:
This is what the Sovereign Lord, the Holy One of Israel, says: “In repentance and rest is your salvation; in quietness and trust is your strength.— Isaiah 30:15, NIV
Isaiah conveyed this same message in Isaiah 26:3 saying:
You will keep him in perfect peace, whose mind is stayed on You, Because he trusts in You.— Isaiah 26:3, NIV
In both verses, the words for “perfect” and “peace” are Hebrew for shalowm (Strong’s H7965) which means, “happy, friendly, well, healthy, prosperous, favor, rest, safety well and great.” It conveys the message of “double peace,” lacking nothing in wellness and happiness.” It is God who keeps and guards His people as their minds are stayed, fixed, steadfast, and leaning hard on Him, because they trust Him. This word trust is the Hebrew word batach (Strong’s H982) means to “confide, and take refuge, be confident and sure in.” Basically, Isaiah’s words mean that God keeps His people in a state of happy and complete blessing and peace as their minds are tattooed on Him—for they trust and take refuge in Him. Are you ready to tattoo your mind on Him? He’d be thrilled!
Thank God that He has provided a way out of this tug-of-war. Thank Him for the truth that sets you free, and invite Him to teach you what that looks like for your life.
Reflect with the Holy Spirit
- What have I believed about status or achievements before reading this chapter? What do I believe now?
- How does it make You feel when I relax into Your pronouncement over me of who I really am- “very good”?
- Lord, is there anything I believe that is out of step with Your design?
- Would You like to touch any hurt in my heart that has driven me to believe I was deficient as I was? I welcome Your thoughts into that area of my life and make my heart whole and devoted to only You. What are those thoughts?
- How am I feeling about believing You now? Are there any areas getting quieter and more steadfast as I believe and trust in You? Is there less pulling on me and tempting me away?
This teaching devotional is part of a series based on Tyrelle Smith's book: From Double-Minded To Destiny. Each week we will publish more on how you can remove doubts, insecurities and fulfill God's plan for your life in a greater way.
 Afshar, Tessa. Harvest of Rubies. Chicago: Moody Publishers, 2012.