Outward Living Helps Us To Not Rely On Ourselves

Outward living for the sake of the Gospel can be hard. It can uncomfortable. And for some, even dangerous. This is why we tend to avoid it. We stay in circles of people who are safe. We keep ourselves in situations that are comfortable. But the challenge is when we avoid the uncomfortable, we risk avoiding fully relying on God. We can begin to build a life in which we do not need to trust in God’s strength becuase we have created a life that simple requires our own strength.

In 2 Corinthians, Paul is writing about the perils he faced while on a missionary journey. He writes, “We think you ought to know, dear brothers and sisters, about the trouble we went through in the province of Asia. We were crushed and overwhelmed beyond our ability to endure, and we thought we would never live through it. In fact, we expected to die. But as a result, we stopped relying on ourselves and learned to rely only on God, who raises the dead.”

By living outward, Paul put himself in a situation where his life was in danger. He could have made the decision not to go. He could have found a safe church in a safe community and simply spent his time teaching and encouraging Christians in a manner that would never risk his life. But the call of Paul’s life took him beyond the safety of the walls of the church. And the benefit was that he stopped relying on himself and learned to rely on God.

When referring to God he describes Him as the God who raises from the dead. This is an interesting addition to his statement. Why add this? Because when we think about uncomfortable or dangerous situations, what is the worst thing that we think can happen? We will die. And yet Paul says, “If I did die, God could raise me from the dead.” Paul also knows that if he did die, his life is eternally secured in Christ. There is hope after our physical death.

Too often we don’t live outwardly because of fear. And that fear may be different for everyone. But there is a fear that keeps us inward. And fear tends to keep us walking where we know we will never get hurt. And when we make those decisions, fear causes us then to rely on ourselves. And yet when Paul put himself in those situations for the sake of the Gospel, he had to stop relying on himself. And that is where we want to be. We want to be where our dependence is in God and God alone.

The call of the Gospel will move us outward and the call of the Gospel will move us into uncomfortable situations. We may never have to risk our life, but we might need to risk our reputation. We might need to risk embarressment. We might even have to risk financial stability.

And yet when we respond to the outward call of the Gospel, we have the privilege of fully depending on the very God who comforts us, the very God who gives us our identity, the very God who provides for us financially — and yes, the very God who can even raise us from the dead.

Would you look for ways that you can enter into the mission of Christ that will require that power of the Holy Spirit to do in you only what He can do? If you have found that all of your ministry experiences are safe, then ask God to take you out of your comfort zone. If you found that all of your ministry experiences fit within your gifting, would you ask that God would give you opportunities outside of your gifting?

You may be thinking, ‘Why would I ever ask God to use me out of my gifting?” Because it is easy for us to become content relying on our natural gifting. It can become easy to stop depending on God. We begin to operate out of our own strength and wisdom. We become confident in ourselves.

During a season that I was pursing a new ministry position, my wife had been praying something specific for me. Something that she did not reveal until later. She said that she had been praying that God would take me into a role that was beyond my ability. That can seem like a strange thing for a wife to ask God for her husbad. But what she was wanting is that I would enter into a position that would require would to fully rely on God and not myself.

And by the way, God answered that request. And despite the challenges, God used the role in tremendous ways in my life to grow me and stretch me.

God’s greatest desire in our life is seeing us walk by faith in Him. And when we living out the outward call of the Gospel God is going to put into places where we will know the joy of fully relying on Him and Him alone.