Will God Ask Me To Give Up Too Much?

Do you ever worry that God might ask too much of you? Has the thought that God might be a harsh taskmaster ever flashed across your mind in a moment of struggle or doubt? Sometimes it seems that Scripture’s calls to self-denial and sacrifice are so extreme that we’re left wondering, “Is God going to ask me to give up so much that I’ll have nothing left?”

Jonathan Edwards anticipated that fear as he preached a sermon on how love is the opposite of selfishness. He first challenged his listeners to love others as Christ has loved us, but then he wisely reminded them (and us) that such radical, sacrificial willingness to put others’ interests above our own is ultimately in our best interests as well. Listen to his words:

If you are selfish, and make yourself and your own private interest your idol, God will leave you to yourself, and let you promote your own interests as well as you can. But if you do not selfishly seek your own, but do seek the things that are Jesus Christ’s, and the things of your fellow-beings, then God will make your interest and happiness his own charge, and he is infinitely more able to provide for and promote it than you are. The resources of the universe move at his bidding, and he can easily command them all to subserve your welfare. So then not to seek your own [interests], in the selfish sense, is the best way of seeking your own in a better sense. (emphasis added).

Beneath all our struggles to be selfless lies a deeper struggle: the battle to trust God with our own ultimate good as we lay down our temporary good for others. What good news to know that as we struggle to live selflessly the God who owns the universe is committed by His own promises to care to look out for our interests far better than we ever could!

Philippians 4:19-20: And my God will supply every need of yours according to his riches in glory in Christ Jesus.  20 To our God and Father be glory forever and ever. Amen.

Note: if you want to read the whole sermon by Edwards, it’s found in chapter 8 of Charity And Its Fruits, p. 184.

  • http://www.reflectinghearts.com Morgan MacGavin

    I have a REALLY hard time, especially lately, with figuring out if taking time away for myself is being selfish, or if it's just the healthy option. Thoughts?? How do you balance this? I've found myself in a "servant burnout" area of my life where I truly love and want to love others, but I have no clue where that line is drawn to make sure that I'm staying emotionally and physically healthy. I feel so guilty when I don't serve or contemplate bailing on something.

    • Josh Blount

      Morgan,

      Great question! I have to say first of all that I've struggled with the same thing, and made mistakes in both directions. It's just as possible to assume too MUCH responsibility and take on more than God has called you to as it is to withdraw selfishly from engaging with others. Without knowing your situation, it's hard to say exactly how you find "the" balance. This would be a great question to discuss with a trusted friend: from what you know of me, do you see me as being more prone to selfish withdrawal or overcommitment? Rest is a biblical category as well; see Jesus' "prescription" for the disciples in Mark 6:30-32. For me as a pastor there is a very real temptation to assume burdens that God doesn't intend for me to carry, and thus to work all the time as an expression of self-sufficiency, as though I'm the savior of all the problems around me. In times where I'm battling that tendency, psalms like Ps. 127:1-2 and 131 are much needed.

      I hope that helps! Feel free to ask more questions. I can sympathize with your struggle!

      Josh

      • http://www.reflectinghearts.com Morgan MacGavin

        Thank you very much, Josh!! That does help. I'm sorting a lot of this out. I guess I'm still a relatively new Christian. I jumped in without any thought that I needed quiet time. I found places where I got to love people and serve, and be part of a team that felt like the perfect fit for my life. Many friends told me I couldn't keep going at the pace that I was, and without knowing how to say no, or when, I got to a place of feeling trapped. After giving up a lot of serving projects, I've slowly integrated some quiet time. But now trying to get back into serving without it feeling like an obligation is a battle.

  • http://www.judahupdate.blogspot.com briana

    excellent post. The way of the Kingdom all to often seems "upside down" compared to how we, in our flesh, would cause things to work best. Grateful for these insights today.

  • annlouisemetcalf

    Thank you for sharing this. I struggle to want to give up everything for the sake of the Gospel. However when I look at the value of all my relationships, possessions, career, etc. I see no comparison. God = Total Value, Everything else= no value