The S Word

When I was a mid-level manager, a work colleague shared this philosophy with me: “When senior management asks my opinion, I owe it to them to be as honest as I can be, and when senior management makes a decision, I owe it to them to back it one-hundred percent.” I had long held this conviction as well, but had never articulated it so memorably, so from then on, I adopted my co-worker’s pithy summary to convey the same value. Reflecting on his comment years later, it occurred to me that my associate had embraced in honor something we often reject as humiliation—submission of one to another.

Submission can be difficult for us: it dampens our dreams and overrules our plans; it pricks our pride and deflates our egos. But being brought low in humility is a divine blessing in disguise—the first step in realigning our will to God’s will. Paul taught early believers that “The mind governed by the flesh is hostile to God; it does not submit to God’s law, nor can it do so. Those who are in the realm of the flesh cannot please God.”1 Pride actually separates us from something very good: submission to God’s ways that are good and right. The apostle continued, “But those who live in accordance with the Spirit have their minds set on what the Spirit desires . . . [and the mind] governed by the Spirit is life and peace.”2 And aren’t these two things—abundant life and liberating peace—what everyone seeks? We find them through submission of our will and ways to the will ways of God.

“Our call is not to succeed, but to be obedient,” reads one of the tenets of the Kairos Prison Ministry. Stated differently, when God makes a decision, we owe it to Him to back it one-hundred percent. This is the difference between self-will and submission, and as we obey, God will bring the success; He will receive the glory. May we humbly live this day in the confidence of submission.

Father, Your ways are always best. We sacrifice our own and submit ourselves to You. To You be the glory. In Christ we pray. Amen.

1 Romans 8:7-8
2 Romans 8:6


Comfort Zone Confines

The Spirit told Philip, “Go to that chariot and stay near it.” Then Philip ran up to the chariot and heard the man reading Isaiah the prophet. “Do you understand what you are reading?” Philip asked. “How can I,” he said, “unless someone explains it to me?” So he invited Philip to come up and sit with him.—Acts 8:29-31

Have you ever felt spontaneously called to escape the confines of your comfort zone and engage another for the sake of the Kingdom? How did it feel? Did you ever “just go with it” and follow the Spirit’s lead, as Philip did? Sometimes yes; sometimes no? True confession: these God-calling moments often intimidate me, sneaking up and catching me unprepared and flat-footed. And to be completely honest, my sin nature would rather bask privately in the acceptance of God than to risk publicly my own rejection for His name. Yet Biblical faith does not stop at believing God’s promises; it heeds God’s call and obeys His commands. Real faith acts. As Jesus said to His disciples, “Now that you know these things, you will be blessed if you do them.”1 Faith leads to obedience, and blessing follows doing.

Then how do we turn from our natural inclinations of reluctance and doubt and set a new paradigm of “Yes, Lord”? Or better yet, how might our feeling of Kingdom obligation mature into our desire for Kingdom opportunity? A few things come to mind. Know your identity, and thrive in the freedom of God’s love: “See what great love the Father has lavished on us, that we should be called children of God! And that is what we are!”2 Recognize you’ve been divinely gifted to serve: “As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace.”3 Remember people are asking, seeking and knocking4 to know the life-giving gospel we carry inside—“How can I [understand] unless someone explains it to me?”5 And I think above all is this: “in humility value others above yourselves,”6 as did Jesus, who “humbled himself by becoming obedient to death—even death on a cross!”7 For when we live and serve in true humility, rejection from others loses its power over us. We are free to love and to serve them in “the obedience that comes from faith.”8 And who knows, maybe we too will be invited to come up and sit with them for a while. Wouldn’t that be great?

Father, You have shown me Your love through countless people and in innumerable ways. Grace and strengthen me, that my faith also would overflow abundantly in joyful obedience to You. In Christ I pray. Amen.

1 John 13:17
2 1 John 3:1
3 1 Peter 4:10
4 Matthew 7:7
5 Acts 8:31
6 Philippians 2:3
7 Philippians 2:8
8 Romans 1:5