“I am the vine and you are the branches. If you remain in me and I in you, you will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing.” John 15:5
How do you define spiritual success? Feeding the poor? Defending the weak? Sacrificing your own needs for others?
Earlier in my Christian walk I struggled to feel spiritually successful. I had sponsored children overseas, filled shoeboxes for kids at Christmas, and set aside time to spend with my ailing grandparents. Yet it appeared that believers and unbelievers alike were serving, helping, and sacrificing more than I was. I felt discouraged.
Then one day, a wise friend helped me understand this verse more fully by saying, “Apart from me you can do nothing of spiritual significance, nothing of eternal value.”
At that moment, it was as if God yanked the rug out from under my feet. All of the spiritual accomplishments I had been stacking up around me crashed to the ground. I hadn’t been as concerned with the spiritual significance of the work I was doing as I was with the tangible work I could see.
I knew my focus needed to shift from doing the work to remaining in Him.
Jesus set the example of remaining in His Father through prayer in order to accomplish the work the Father had sent Him to do. As one of the Sisters who worked along side Mother Teresa in Calcutta simply stated, “prayer is our first work.”
Lord, help me to desire to commune with You. Teach me to pray unceasingly as I work through Your strength, and remind me to place value in the eternal significance of the work You have called me to do. Amen.
Read Philippians 3:1-14. The apostle Paul, who had many reasons to boast in the flesh — that is, his spiritual accomplishments — considered them nothing compared to knowing Christ. Consider the ways you are serving. Ask God to help you remain in Him to accomplish what He has called you to. Ask Him to search your heart and reveal to you if you need to confess the sin of wrong motives for your service.