In the Body of Christ there are many members, as we all know. Everyone has a job and a purpose. God has given gifts to everyone – good gifts, meant to edify and encourage the Body.
“Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.”1 Corinthians 12:7
You have a designation from the Holy Spirit as to which part you are, which job you do, what way you encourage and edify the Body of Christ, the Church.
Out of His Will?
So, what happens when you try to become something you’re not? What happens when you decide you want to be the one in front, the one in the spotlight when it isn’t your God-given place? What happens when you don’t want to be “second,” or the “arm” or “ankle” of the Body? When comparison sets in, discontent finds a foothold in your heart, and striving begins, you are out of the will of God.
Let’s look at some Biblical examples of people who weren’t “first.” These are a few who weren’t called to be in the spotlight, or were called to step aside for someone else:
- Aaron & Hur – Chosen by God to help hold up Moses’s arms during the fight against the Amalekites. Aaron also was not the leader in the family – Moses was chosen to lead, with Aaron’s help.
- The Levites – Once they weren’t needed to carry the Tabernacle, they were divided up to wait on the sons of Aaron, chosen to do the menial work of the Temple.
- Nehemiah’s helpers – the spearmen and the builders, each doing their part to build and to protect.
- John the Baptist – Declared the coming of the King. John declared Jesus to be the Lamb of God, “The strap of whose sandal I am not worthy to untie.” (John 1:27 & 29) Jesus later said of John the Baptist, “Truly I tell you, among those born of women there has not risen anyone greater than John the Baptist….” (Matthew 11:11a)
- Tertius – Temporary amanuensis (secretary) to the Apostle Paul.
Don’t I Deserve…?
Sometimes I’ve wondered how I would have fared in these positions. I would wonder whether I was called to more than holding up the leader’s arms. Would it have been “beneath me” to be called to “menial work” in the Temple? I probably would have been chosen to do the building work (if that) with Nehemiah, so I likely would have wondered why I couldn’t hold the spear and defend the building. I would probably use Jesus to namedrop with my buddies if I was John the Baptist and would have gotten upset as Tertius “just” being Paul’s secretary (*by the way, he ended up a Bishop and died a martyr).
I’ve also always wondered about Joseph Barsabbas (Justus) from Acts 1:21-26. He was the one NOT chosen to be the next apostle in place of Judas Iscariot. I wonder how I would have felt if I were him; whether I would have said, “Forget this! How dare they not choose me! (shaking my fist at God)!” I would have said that I followed Jesus for as long as Matthias. So, why not me (*by the way, I have seen in some text that he became Bishop of the City of the Free)?
See how selfish that is? Me, me, me. Sometimes, God is saying, “IT’S NOT YOUR GIFT…”
Here’s two more examples of the comparison syndrome we find in the Word:
- The Prodigal Son’s brother – He wondered, “Why not me,” when his brother got a feast after running away and ruining his life.
- Peter asks, “What about John?” Jesus basically answers, “What’s it to you?” (John 21:21)
I am the Prodigal Son’s brother, and Peter in many ways. I have a problem of “why not me?” I’ve tried to be something I’m not called to be so many times, it’s stupid. And all because I wanted what someone else had, thought I was “just” this or that, or thought whatever God had chosen me for wasn’t good enough. I’m Eve at times. “Oh, wretched man that I am!” (Romans 7:24)
I have tried to get what I thought should be mine, that position or that blessing, and have been humbled by God every time. When you strive like I have to become something God clearly hasn’t called you to, you get a little embarrassed (okay, a lot embarrassed). Discipline is swift from the Lord. But, He is patient and loving, and hasn’t smote me yet. Praise His Name. His grace is unfathomable.
But, what does it matter whether we are chosen for spotlight or to stand in the shadow of someone else? Are we not chosen? Are we not to stand in the shadow of Christ? Is it not enough to be God’s child, saved by grace through faith in Christ? When God has chosen each of us to have a specific place in this world and in the Body, why compare ourselves or wonder why not me?
There is no “just” in the Body of Christ. There is no lowly position, whether you think there is or not. Each of the people in the list above had a calling and a meaningful purpose. If they hadn’t done their job, things would either be very different, or the names we read there wouldn’t be the same.
Every member has his or her place and is blessed when they come to appreciate it. Jesus finished his speaking about John the Baptist by saying, “yet whoever is least in the kingdom of heaven is greater than he.” (Matthew 11:11b) Are we willing to be “least?” Are we willing to move over for someone else to have the spotlight? Have we the guts to hold up their arms in battle?
Take some time today and ask God if you’re in the right place. Maybe He’s calling you to something more, maybe something less, or maybe to stay where you are. Just check in with Him and find out if your heart is right. I always need reminding of whether I’m in His will. I always need to know whether I’m pushing ahead or right where I should be. Take time to align with Him today no matter what it looks like.