Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.
— 1 Corinthians 4:1

When you are serving faithfully and trying to obediently do what God has asked you to do, the devil hates it! He’ll do everything he can to dissuade you to stop. Often he attacks your mind with allegations, such as, “Why are you doing this? No one appreciates you anyway! Here you are, working, striving, sweating, and slugging it out while other people are having a good time. If no one else cares, why should you care? Come on — you’ve done enough!”

If you’re not really committed to staying in place and doing what God asked you to do, those allegations from the devil may pull you off the bench where God called you to serve. This makes me think again of First Corinthians 4:1, where Paul says, “Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God.”

*[If you started reading this from your email, begin reading here.]

bookmark2As noted earlier (see August 13), the word “ministers” in this verse is the Greek word huperetas and referred to the slaves or servants who were placed into the bottom galleys of huge ships. A huge oar was placed in the hands of these slaves, and they began to row and row and row — literally becoming the engines that moved those ships through the sea.

If you had been allowed to peek into the bottom galley of those huge ships of New Testament times, you’d have seen that these prisoners were all chained to a post near their respective benches. There was a good reason for this heavy chain.

Because their work was so difficult and their destiny was sealed in the bottom of that ship, these men’s minds would wander to more beautiful, restful places where palm trees overlooked sandy seashores or tall pines swayed in refreshing mountain breezes. Had the “under-rowers” not been chained to their posts, they may have attempted to escape from their bench to find a more restful lifestyle somewhere else. Therefore, chains kept the men where they belonged — right in the bottom of the boat, tied to their post with oar in hand, compelled to effectively do their job.

Likewise, you must know that as you seek to do God’s will for your life, you’ll have to take on all kinds of assaults and challenges that inevitably accompany obedience. And let me warn you, there will be times when your flesh tries to find a way to jump ship and get out from underneath the pressure of obeying God! Your flesh would love to be “led” somewhere else where faith isn’t required and the crucifixion of flesh doesn’t seem so necessary.

You see, it’s easy to start obeying God. Initiating a project is fun and exciting, and it’s always the easiest part. The difficult part is sticking with that project and seeing it through all the way to the end. The real test comes when the excitement is gone and the reality of hard work and commitment begins to dawn on you. That’s always the golden moment when the flesh is tempted to forget you ever heard from God and to start looking for a way out!

If you are not really committed to go all the way in fulfilling your God-assigned task, you probably won’t do it. Therefore, you must be absolutely committed to do what God has called you to do, “chaining yourself” to your decision to obey so you cannot flee in hard times. If God has called you, don’t jump ship! He needs you in the bottom of the boat in order to keep the Body of Christ moving forward toward maturity. You are very important!

I’m sure there were times when the under-rowers said, “I’m tired of rowing! Get me off this boat!” They probably had to be reminded, “You are the engines of the ship. If you get off the boat, the boat will stop moving. You are too vital to jump ship now. We can’t go on without you!”

There were also probably times when these men in the bottom of the ship said, “No one appreciates us or says thank you for what we do! We work, work, work, and work, and yet we are treated like slaves! I just wish someone would occasionally show some appreciation.”

We all want to be appreciated. I like to be thanked when I work hard, just as we all do. This is a natural, normal desire. If we’d all just treat each other with good manners in the Body of Christ, it would solve a world of problems and remedy a lot of hurt feelings. But people are people, and sometimes they forget to say thank you. It’s absolutely true that people should be more thoughtful and appreciative. But the bottom line is this: Ultimately, it doesn’t matter whether or not those around us ever show us appreciation for what we do. If the boat is going to move, we must row the boat!

Just like these “under-rowers,” if you stop rowing — if you stop doing your job — it could possibly jeopardize the destiny God has called you to fulfill. If the boat is going to move, you must row, whether or not you ever hear the words “thank you” from anyone.

That is the hard reality of life for all of us as servants of God. Yes, it would be nice to hear “thank you” from time to time. But lack of appreciation must not affect our determination to row our boat and do what God has called us to do.

When you said yes to the will of God, you surrendered to Him, agreeing to pick up the “oar” He has placed before you. For you, that oar may be a ministry God has given you or a position serving in the local church or a certain business. Perhaps God has instructed you to give money regularly to a ministry. Whatever responsibility God has set before you, it’s time for you to grab hold of that oar! Like the under-rowers who rowed in order to move those big ships, you must begin a lifelong occupation of “rowing” to advance the cause God has put on your heart. From now on, your lifelong slogan needs to be “Row, row, row your boat!”

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My Prayer for Today

Lord, help me today to keep a right perspective of what You have called me to do. When I get tired and the devil tries to convince me to quit, please help me remember that if everyone stops rowing the boat, it won’t go anywhere. Even if no one else notices what I am doing, I know that You see every move I make. Whatever I do, Lord, I do for You!

I pray this in Jesus’ name!

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My Confession for Today

I confess that I have a job to do and that I’m going to do it! I will not jeopardize my destiny by succumbing to the discouraging voice of the enemy. If the boat is going to move, I must do my part to move it. Whether or not I ever hear the words “thank you” from anyone, I am the servant of God and I will do my service as unto Him! 

I declare this by faith in Jesus’ name!

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Questions to Answer

1. When do you most easily get discouraged? For instance, does discouragement strike when you are physically weary? Have you found that if you stay in prayer, you stay stronger and more encouraged?

2. When you’re slugging it out and pushing forward with every ounce of your might, what helps you more than anything else to keep pushing ahead?

3. Does the knowledge that you are willing to do something no one else is willing to do motivate you? Do you get satisfaction when you know you’re being obedient to God, even if no one else is willing to stick in there and be obedient with you?