Tiring Or Fulfilling?

NOTE: This is from the devotional guide of our church, Filinvest Community Christian Fellowship. Today is Day Three of our Prayer and Fasting week.

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Serving God should be a delight. But, sadly, there are times it felt like a duty. “Service without joy” is the first mark of toxic spirituality.
[T]here are many who serve without joy. They did not start this way. They may well have started serving with joy but subsequently, they got hurt and resentful. They began to feel taken for granted, neglected and unappreciated;… they felt used and abused. Discouraged and disillusioned, they left the church—only to discover that the new church was no better. They had brought their dark emotional baggage along with them. And the vicious cycle continues. [1]
Does this describe your service to God? What was once a blessing for you is now a burden? We become like the priests during the time of the prophet Malachi who said, “It’s too hard to serve the Lord” (1:13, NLT). Another translation goes like this, “How tired we are of all this!” 

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We tend to blame “unreasonable or unappreciative” people for robbing us of the joy of serving. But actually it’s pride. It happens when we try to impress people. If we get our approval from God rather than people, “it would be easier to respond to those hurts and not merely react to them.” [2]

That’s connected with the next trait of toxic spirituality: “Performance without rest.”
When we are caught in a performance trap, we can easily become insecure. We are restless with inner anxieties like, “how am I doing?”, or “is it being well-received?”, or “are the people applauding?”, etc. This is performance without rest. [3]
We are called to be faithful, not to be perfect. Yes, we give our best to God. But, at the end of the day, no matter how much time and effort we put in, we have to leave the results to the Lord (Read 1 Corinthians 3:6).

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Seek God’s approval, not men’s. Don’t get your worth through your work for God. Avoid comparing the fruit of your work with the work of others. It’s only by grace that we can perform for Him. 

Step #3 To Detox: Memorize 1 Corinthians 15:58. Recall the things you have done for God and then, no matter what the results are, remind yourself, “My labor in the Lord is not in vain.” Thank God for the privilege He gave you to serve Him.

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[1] Edmund Chan, Cultivating Your Inner Life: Reflections on Spiritual Formation in Discipleship Today 2nd Edition (SG: Covenant Evangelical Free Church, 2011),46-47.

[2] Ibid. 

[3] Ibid, 48.

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