January 16, 2023 • Life for Leaders
Scripture — Genesis 12:1-3
Now the LORD said to Abram, “Go from your country and your kindred and your father’s house to the land that I will show you. I will make of you a great nation, and I will bless you, and make your name great, so that you will be a blessing. I will bless those who bless you, and the one who curses you I will curse; and in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed.”
God could have chosen to redeem and restore humanity without enduring the messiness of human collaboration. But, amazingly enough, God chose to partner with human beings in this crucial work, beginning with Abraham, Sarah, and their retinue. So it is today. God wants to work in you and through you to accomplish God’s purposes on earth. God has chosen not to do it alone.
Today’s devotion is part of the Life for Leaders series: Can’t Do It Alone.
If, like me, you’ve spent years and years reading and studying the Bible, if you’ve been a Christian for a long time, then you might be inclined to take some of the most amazing things about God for granted. I know I do. I can, for example, think about God’s love without being amazed that the all-powerful, all-knowing, all-holy God would actually love me. Every now and then the wonder of God’s love for me astounds me, but I confess that I often take it for granted.
In a similar way, we can fail to appreciate one of the most staggering things about God. Here it is: God did not do it alone!
Now, I’m not talking here about God’s relational nature as one God in three persons. That’s a worthy subject, to be sure. In a way, a triune God never acts alone. Everything God does involves the community of Father, Son, and Holy Spirit.
But that’s not my point here. Rather, I’m pointing to the fact that in God’s plan to redeem and restore all people and all creation, God chose to use human beings. I expect God surely could have formed a great nation and caused all families on earth to be blessed without using Abraham, Sarah, and their retinue. But God chose instead to enter into a covenantal partnership with human beings in order to bring about redemption and restoration.
God did this knowing that the human track record wasn’t all that impressive. After all, God’s first human partners on earth didn’t fare so well, choosing to disobey God and welcoming sin into the world. Moreover, God knew in advance that Abraham’s track record wouldn’t be all that spotless, either. For example, shortly after Abraham left his home in obedience to God’s call, he and his people went down to Egypt. There, to protect his own skin, Abraham lied about the fact that Sarah was his wife, putting her in grave jeopardy. Not exactly a model of trusting God! Yet, knowing full well who Abraham was and what he would do, God nevertheless chose to work through him, through his wife, and through their family. The rest of Scripture bears striking witness to just how messy God’s strategy proved to be.
When I really consider that God has chosen to use human beings to accomplish the divine purposes on earth, I am awestruck. And I am grateful, grateful because I believe God has chosen to use me as well, in spite of my failures and foibles, in spite of my limitations and lostness. Surely God could write way better Life for Leaders devotions than I can. But instead of sending them down from Heaven each day, God has chosen to work through me. God knows I won’t always get it right. God knows I will overlook the most important point of a text. God knows I will miss opportunities to enrich the minds and inspire the hearts of my readers. And, of course, God knows all the ways in which my life is not God-honoring. As David once wrote to God, “Against you, you alone, have I sinned, and done what is evil in your sight” (Psalm 51:4). Nevertheless, God has chosen to work in and through me.
And you! What I’ve just said about myself is also true of you. God has chosen to work in and through you in this world. You don’t have to be a devotional writer or otherwise “spiritual worker” to be used by God for God’s purposes and glory. No matter your particular line of work, no matter your family structure, no matter your role in your community, no matter how you are gifted or educated or trained, God wants to use you for God’s own kingdom purposes. God isn’t doing it alone because God is doing it with you.
Just to be clear, God wants to do it with you, not as a solitary individual, but as a member of the divine community, God’s own family . . .the church. As you consider how you can be a partner with God in God’s work, don’t forget your human partners. You need them and they need you. That’s the way God planned it, right from the start.
To what extent do you take for granted the fact that God has chosen human partners to do God’s work?
When have you felt that God was working with you and through you? What was that like for you?
What helps you to see your whole life as an opportunity to serve God?
As you do your “ordinary” work today, see if you can feel yourself to be a co-worker of God.
Gracious God, forgive me when I take for granted the fact that you have chosen to work with human partners. Forgive me, especially, when I take for granted the fact that you have chosen to work through me. Me! With all of my shortcomings and fears! Me! With all of my selfishness and sin! Oh my! Thank you, Lord.
Help me, I pray, to learn to live as your partner in everything I do. May I continually seek your wisdom, follow your Spirit, and do what is right and honoring to you. Work in me and through me this very day, I pray! Amen.
Find all Life for Leaders devotions here. Explore what the Bible has to say about work at the High Calling archive, hosted by the unique website of our partners, the Theology of Work Project. Reflection on today’s Life for Leaders theme can be found here: God’s Covenant with Abraham.
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Dr. Mark D. Roberts is a Senior Strategist for Fuller’s Max De Pree Center for Leadership, where he focuses on the spiritual development and thriving of leaders. He is the principal writer of the daily devotional, Life for Leaders, and the founder of the De Pree Center’s Flourishing in the Third Third of Life Initiative. Previously, Mark was the Executive Director of the De Pree Center, the lead pastor of a church in Southern California, and the Senior Director of Laity Lodge in Texas. He has written eight books, dozens of articles, and over 2,500 devotions that help people discover the difference God makes in their daily life and leadership. With a Ph.D. in New Testament from Harvard, Mark teaches at Fuller Seminary, most recently in his D.Min. cohort on “Faith, Work, Economics, and Vocation.” Mark is married to Linda, a marriage and family counselor, spiritual director, and executive coach. Their two grown children are educators on the high school and college level.