“It does not, therefore, depend on human desire or effort, but on God’s mercy.” (Romans 9:16 NIV)
One of the hardest lessons I have had to learn as an adult is to rely on God’s mercy instead of my own drive, desire or effort.
Just a few minute ago, I was washing the dishes. The sink had been piled high with dirty plates and bowls by various members of my family who ate at different times and then left the dishes for…me! I admit, I was tempted to complain. I wanted to focus my prayer on asking God to give me my heart’s desire: That everyone would do their own dishes! The Holy Spirit remind me right then to thank God instead of complaining. Had He not already provided the water and soap for me to wash the dishes? And couldn’t I thank God that I am healthy and physically able to wash dishes, and not on bed rest? That I have hands and feet that are capable of washing dishes and are free of pain?
In the words of Saint Augustine: “We must be emptied of what we are full, so that we may be filled with what we are empty. Too often mankind looks upon God’s mercy as recognition or reward for the work we’ve done. We think our efforts cause God to look upon us with more favor. However, if we expected a specific rewarded for our desire or effort with His Mercy, then we would be filled with pride because of what we had accomplished. The election of God is not something we can run for, earn or win. The reward does not depend on anything we do.”
I am reminded of the story in Matt. 20:20-24:“Then the mother of Zebedee’s sons came to Jesus with her sons and, kneeling down, asked a favor of him. ‘What is it you want?’ he asked. She said, ‘Grant that one of these two sons of mine may sit at your right and the other at your left in your kingdom.’ ‘You don’t know what you are asking,’ Jesus said to them. ‘Can you drink the cup I am going to drink?’ ‘We can,’ they answered. Jesus said to them, ‘You will indeed drink from my cup, but to sit at my right or left is not for me to grant. These places belong to those for whom they have been prepared by my Father.'” (NIV)
As soon as I finished this devotional, I discovered that my husband had come home and eaten supper while I was writing…and he had washed his own dishes! Praise God!
Our Heavenly Father is faithful: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them. We want each of you to show this same diligence to the very end, so that what you hope for may be fully realized. We do not want you to become lazy, but to imitate those who through faith and patience inherit what has been promised.” (Hebrews 6:10-12 NIV)
Let pray: Heavenly Father, help us to do Your will. Not because we want to earn a specific reward. Thank you for Jesus Christ’s words before He died. Our Great High Priest Jesus Christ said: “It is finished.” (John 19:30 NIV), and “Who then is the one who condemns? No one. Christ Jesus who died—more than that, who was raised to life—is at the right hand of God and is also interceding for us.” (Romans 8:34 NIV) Bless be his name. And thank You for Your disciple, who reminds us in his letter in Hebrews: “God is not unjust; he will not forget your work and the love you have shown him as you have helped his people and continue to help them…” (Heb. 6:10 NIV). We praise you. Amen.
One in Christ,
Sophie Chun Ngeth