Nancy Taylor Warner
Years ago, my dad had an aloe plant in his office. One day he broke off a piece to rub some of the gel on his finger, and then discarded it. He told it like this: The aloe plant called out from the trash can and said “Is this the way you treat me after I gave my life so you could have healing? You use me, and then throw me in the trash can?”
How much easier it is to give when we can expect some gain in return, or at least appreciation. But Jesus said of himself, “For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:45)
When the early church gave recognition to those from whom they could expect a favor, James rebuked them, telling them neither their hearts nor their motives were pure. In fact, he said it very strongly: “If you really fulfill the royal law according to the Scripture, ‘You shall love your neighbor as yourself,’ you do well; but if you show partiality, you commit sin, and are convicted by the law as transgressors.” (James 2:8-9 NKJV)
Inner drives, inner needs, practical needs…so many things can motivate us, often without us even being aware. But then something will come along and expose our hearts. We may feel a lack of regard or appreciation from others. Someone may be making demands on our time. When tempted to react, how can we turn from being like that complaining little aloe plant to being like Jesus, whose sole delight was in loving His heavenly Father and doing His will?
This transformation requires an inner working of the Lord, often through circumstances and our willingness in those circumstances to allow the Lord to work in our hearts. During such times, it can be easy to feel sorry for ourselves or seek comfort from others. If we will, instead, submit ourselves to the Lord, He can bring an inner change, where lesser motives are put to death as His higher law of love begins to work in us—a love first toward the Lord, then reflected toward others.
As I am able to yield to the Lord during times of heat and pressure, the very fiber of who I am and how I react is dealt with, as not only my behavior changes, but His nature is formed in me.
For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.” Hebrews 12:6
Chastening corrects sin or wrong behavior. When we do wrong, the Lord will bring a correction. If we are honest, we will realize we deserve the correction, and receive it, recognizing the Lord’s love.
Scourging works on a deeper level. For example, maybe we did not do wrong, but we are still being blamed. It is within our very nature to react when unfair things come against us.
As we choose to respond rightly during difficult times, something that might have made us bitter, instead becomes a tool in the Lord’s hands. Not all things are good, but God promises to work all things together for good, for them that love Him. (Romans 8:28) As we allow His working in our lives, more than our outward behavior is changed. That which reacts inside of us is also dealt with, bringing us into a place beyond reaction, to responding in the nature of Christ.
“But now, O Lord, thou art our father; we are the clay, and thou our potter; and we all are the work of thy hand.” Isaiah 64:8
Scripture speaks of being “more than conquerors” through Christ Jesus and His love for us. (Romans 8:37) I may go through something that touches a particular area of my inner being; I overcome by choosing to allow the Lord to work in me through that situation.
But then, the Lord allows another circumstance, again touching me deep inside, and again, I make the choice to overcome. This time, as I yield to the Lord, I come through on a higher level. I am not just going through the same reactions or the same feelings over and over. There is a progressive working of the Lord taking place in my life, where my very nature is being dealt with and I am being changed into the image of His Son.
“And the vessel that he made of clay was marred in the hand of the potter: so he made it again another vessel, as seemed good to the potter to make it.” Jeremiah 18:4
Why is this process so important? Jesus said, “for the prince of this world cometh, and hath nothing in me. But that the world may know that I love the Father; and as the Father gave me commandment, even so I do.” (John 14:30b-31)
Because Jesus was sinless and His nature perfect, even as the Son of man, no pressure was able to deviate Him from His purpose. He had no selfish motivation. Nothing caused Him to react. He fully did the will of His heavenly Father and was a complete expression of Him in the earth.
Scripture refers to Jesus as the firstborn among many brethren. (Romans 8:29) As we approach the kingdom age, the Lord is looking for those who are willing to submit to His inner working, that they might be brought into a place of total obedience to Him. It is important that our natures have been so dealt with, that no lesser thing will move or motivate us. No selfish ambition will drive us. The will of God alone will rule us, as we give expression to Christ within.
The Lord is preparing a people today, who will usher in His glory as He releases His authority in the earth in the days ahead. The testing of the faith of those He is working in is precious in His sight, as He prepares them to participate with Him in the coming days of His presence.
“The precious sons of Zion, comparable to fine gold, how are they esteemed as earthen pitchers, the work of the hands of the potter!” Lamentations 4:2
Hebrews 11:6b tells us that “He that cometh to God must believe that He is, and that He is a rewarder of them that diligently seek Him.” John tells us, “This is the work of God, that ye believe on Him…” John 6:29b
As things come our way and we maintain our awareness of the present reality of God—who is, who is working in our lives, and who loves us—then we are able to look beyond people and circumstances to the Lord, recognize His inner working, and rest in expectation of His purposes being fulfilled.
As a bride, our love is set on the Lord, and we spend time fellowshipping in His presence. But as sons, we must allow the Lord to prepare us that we might participate with Him in a greater way, as He unveils His power in the coming days.
We must realize that being shaped into true Christ-likeness will not come easily; God may use the most seemingly trivial situation, to work out His greater purposes in our lives. May we learn to be sensitive to His inner working, and yield as He brings us into alignment with His higher purposes. May we be a part of that people the Lord is preparing today, a people being birthed into an active end-time relationship with Him.
If you would like, please pray with me:
Dear Heavenly Father, I thank You for Your love and for Your inner working in my life. Thank You that I know You as a present reality; I believe that You are, and that You are a rewarder of those who seek You. Help me to always see You, to always yield to You. Search me, try me, know me. Cause me to become one with You, in who You are, and in all You are doing as I yield to You. In Jesus’ name I pray, Amen.