When You Don’t Feel Like It
Hardships, obstacles, and sin are always with us blocking and stunting our passion to serve God. When these trials come, we are tempted to just quit serving God and start serving ourselves again. The Holy Spirit acts as our helper to encourage and remind us of what we have in Christ. It helps us maintain our self-control by finding power in Christ. As burnout and obstacles obstruct our worship, the Holy Spirit is there to navigate us through them. Philippians 1:6 states, “And I am sure of this, that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of Jesus Christ.” The Holy Spirit helps us to endure hardships and discouragement when we serve. If the Holy Spirit only enlightened us to the Gospel once and then moved on, we would have salvation without sanctification. Without the constant help of the Holy Spirit, our passion for God would quickly fade.
We, apart from the Holy Spirit, cannot empower ourselves to serve God and one another. This is very evident in the example of the Israelites in the book of Exodus. Witnessing firsthand the plagues God brought forth, one might think that God had proved, once and for all, both capable and faithful in the eyes of Israel.
However, after seeing God deliver them from slavery and parting the Red Sea so they could escape, the Jewish exiles began begging to go back to Egypt when they experienced a minor food shortage. “Is not this what we said to you in Egypt, ‘Leave us alone that we may serve the Egyptians’? For it would have been better for us to serve the Egyptians than to die in the wilderness.” Exodus 14:12
They had seen God in his power and witnessed how he was faithful to his promises. Yet they doubted whether he could provide something as simple as a little food. How many times have we grumbled in our desert despite God’s continued grace in our lives? Thank God for the Holy Spirit to open our eyes and cause us to reflect on. Praise the God that saved us for eternity! Without the Spirit, we would be absent from Heaven and be utterly useless here on earth.
The Holy Spirit is instrumental is helping us serve to magnify the Gospel and glorify God. It first enlightens our own hearts to our need for a savior. It then empowers us to use our God-given talents to serve God to the benefit of others. Without the Holy Spirit we would be incapable of changing our own way and our hearts to glorify God. We would be as frustrated and as hopeless as Henry Hudson was trying to find the Northwest Passage.
Are you struggling to serve others? Do you feel condemned because you aren’t serving enough? If so, then Christ’s exaltation offers comfort and assurance. In Christ, we have a powerful and loving Lord who in His immense love and wisdom not hears our prayers but direct His sovereign providences to care for our needs. Christ’s exaltation also secures and promotes the process of sanctification in the believer. As Calvin explains that from Christ’s exaltation, “ arises not only trust in prayer, but also peace for godly consciences, while they safely lean upon God’s fatherly mercy and surely persuaded that whatever has been consecrated through the Mediator is pleasing to God.”[i]
In Heaven, we have an exalted savior who sits at God the Father’s right hand as our great Prophet, Priest, and King. From Heaven, Christ uses the Holy Spirit to conform us more and more into the image of Christ. Christ’s Ascension and Session brings assurance, perseverance, hope, faith, and the power to change to those who have place their faith in him. Jesus Christ is at this very moment ruling and reigning in Heaven. Therefore, it seems only fitting to end as John Calvin does with his section on the exaltation, “This is the true state of His Kingdom; this is the power that the Father conferred on him, until, in coming to judge the living and the dead, he accomplishes his final act.”[ii] We can worship God by serving others because He first served us and now sits in Heaven assuring and empowering us.