Sheep with ShepherdThere are many forces which pressure us away from the ministry of grace and gospel – personal finances, demonic and human opposition, our own doubts and faults, not to mention fear. But there is one more force that might be slowing us down in our pursuits – God Himself.

One of the most dangerous motivations in our own hearts, one that God resists, is that of being driven rather than called – that is, being motivated by a need to achieve, accomplish, or win, typically out of fear and insecurity, rather than moving from a foundation of rest and peace, motivated by love for others and a passion to please God.

Now, we all have mixed motives, so we shouldn’t wait till we are entirely pure to pursue action (for more on the role of desire, listen to Finding God’s Call IV – Motivated by desire). But we DO need to not lose heart as God’s resistance purifies our hearts.

This pattern can be seen in the opening lines of Psalm 23

The Lord is my shepherd; I shall not want.
He makes me to lie down in green pastures; He leads me beside the still waters.
He restores my soul;
He leads me in the paths of righteousness for His name’s sake.

Yea, though I walk through the valley of the shadow of death,
I will fear no evil; For You are with me;
Your rod and Your staff, they comfort me.

You prepare a table before me in the presence of my enemies;

Notice the progression here:

  1. He makes me lie down – first, God forces us to stop our driven behaviors.
  2. He leads me besides still waters – second, he leads us to places of rest – in fact, into His rest (see Hebrews 4:1-5)
  3. He restores my soul – this is God’s real and primary purpose in our lives – to restore us. Who we ARE is more important, and comes before what we DO – that is, before we can DO the work God has called us to, we need to learn to BE the PERSONS we ought to be inwardly – to try to enter into God’s work without being transformed into maturity is a high risk endeavor – see all of the fallen pastors as one possible example. And restoration involves returning something to its original design – the restoration of the created self (for more on this, see A Biblical view of self-love)
  4. He leads me, again – this time, instead of leading us to rest, after significant restoration, he leads us BACK into work – but no longer our insecurity-driven works, but works grounded in peace and motivated by virtue.
  5. Now I’m walking – where? Well, the path of righteousness will often bring us into conflict with our culture, and the values of the world, and often, into death to our own ways of doing things.
  6. But now I’m walking with God – and so God’s comfort is with me.

Interesting, eh? What do you think?