vs. 34 “Jesus said to them, “My food is to do the will of Him who sent Me, and to finish His work.”
There were two requirements of Jesus during His life on this earth and those two requirements apply to us in our lives as well. First, we are called by God to do His will and secondly, to complete His work.
Confusing God’s will and His work can easily happen. In fact, if you asked most Christians today to explain the difference between God’s will and His work for their lives, they would probably tell you there is no difference because they believe God’s will is His work. So, what is the difference?
The will of God is found in His Word and is the same for all people. For the lost, His will is that none should perish, but all should come to the saving knowledge of Jesus, His Son. For the believer, God’s will is for us to grow in His Word and become mature. His will is for us to be filled with the Holy Spirit, receive healing, be guided by His Spirit, be prospered in our finances, and live in His joy each day. Can you see that God’s will is the same for everyone?
But the work of God is different for every Christian. The will of God comes from His Word, the work of God is given to us by the leading of the Holy Spirit. Where the Word is general and given for all, the guidance of the Holy Spirit is specific and individual. God’s Word says He has a work for us to do. The Holy Spirit tells us which work is given to us individually. God could call you to the work of pastoring, evangelizing, or teaching. Or, He could call you to the work of being a businessman, doctor, or carpenter to support the work of the church and those who are in the field ministry.
Just because you know the will of God found in His Word, does not mean you are doing the work of God. His will comes before His work. But His will is not His work. They are two completely different areas of our Christian life. If you choose not to do the work He has called you to do or if you fail to complete the work He has given you, God will entrust that work to someone else. God’s work will be completed on the earth. And instead of only believing God for our health and prosperity, we should be believing Him to complete our work in the earth.
Did Jesus complete God’s work on the earth? Of course, He did. When He was praying in the garden before His crucifixion, Jesus told the Father, “I have glorified you on the earth: I have finished the work which you gave me to do” (John 17:4).
Satan’s Main Opposition is Toward God’s Work
The forces of evil, sent from the pits of Hell, will try to stop the work of God from being accomplished in the earth. If Satan sees that you will give up God’s work in your life for wealth, He will give you wealth and make you rich. If he sees that living in good health will cause you to quit the work of God, he will allow you to stay healthy. Satan offered Jesus wealth and power over all the kingdoms of the earth in an attempt to cause Jesus to change allegiance—to cause Him to abort His work for God and instead, work for the kingdom of Satan. But Jesus would not.
There is little reward in Heaven for discovering God’s will, but there are many rewards in heaven for accomplishing God’s work! Although prosperity and healing are the will of God, there are no rewards for accumulating great amounts of money or living a long time in health. There are numerous rewards and crowns for winning souls, laying hands on the sick, ministering to the saints, and finishing the work God has given us to do.
Easy to Start, Difficult to Complete
In all areas of life, there are many who start but few who finish. Many start like the hare but never finish their race. Few are like the tortoise who begin their race, keep a steady pace, and finish.
When I graduated from Bible school, it seemed like everyone had a place of ministry except me. Many had churches they would pastor, mission fields to fly to and itineraries to fulfill for evangelism. I, on the other hand, had no one offering me a ministry position. I simply began teaching a Sunday school class of junior high boys. I also took any opportunity to teach that came along. I would teach at nursing homes, prisons, or home Bible studies. From all of this arose a ministry position at Rhema Bible Training Center and later the opportunity to pastor the church I was attending. I had an opportunity to return to my graduating class and reunite with my classmates. I was shocked to learn that over seventy percent of them were no longer in ministry. All of the rejoicing they had at graduation, in time turned to disillusionment with churches, missions organizations, and people in general. It is a sad fact that few who begin ever finish the work God has ordained for them to complete. No wonder Jesus told us that part of His calling was to finish the work God had for Him.
As I look across the body of Christ today, there are few national and international ministers remaining. Where are those who began the race with Billy Graham, Oral Roberts, and Kenneth Hagin? They are casualties of sin, apathy, and discouragement. Like the Boston and New York marathons, there was a large group of excited runners when the starting gun was fired. Yet, at the end of the race, only a few remained to cross the finish line. Jesus made it His prayer to finish His work. That should be our prayer too!
What Does It Take to Finish Your Work?
To complete the work God has for you takes more than a calling. Calling is not enough. Anointing is not enough. Gifts of the Holy Spirit are not enough. Knowledge of the word is not enough. To complete the work of God takes character.
Character is an outworking and manifestation of the fruit of the Holy Spirit. Developing character is the primary call of God after we are saved. What keeps us in the race and gives us the power not to give up is not the gifts of the Spirit or a special anointing from God. Longevity in God’s work comes from patience, faithfulness to our word, gentleness toward others and a meek, teachable attitude in every situation of life.
Under the giant guns of a battleship are large plates forming a thick deck. Without a thick deck, the guns would rip the ship apart. The recoil of most large guns can slow the ship down or almost cause the ship to capsize. Big guns demand a thick deck. The gifts of the Holy Spirit and special anointings from God demand a thick deck in our lives of character. The fruit of the Holy Spirit forms the foundation in our lives to keep us from being torn apart by the power available from God. Character gives us longevity and time to complete our work.
Have You Ever Wanted To Give Up?
The temptation to give up comes to everyone. But mature believers who have developed character in their lives will persevere in their call and complete the work despite the circumstances or pressures of life. Moses wanted to quit (Numbers 11:11-15), but did not. Job wanted to quit (Job 7:15) but did not. Elijah wanted to quit, AND DID!
Elijah’s work was not quite finished when he complained to God of the apathy in the land of Israel. He lamented to God that no one but he was left to worship the Lord because everyone had torn down the altars of God and gone after idols. Three times God tried to convince Elijah not to give up, but Elijah had already made up his mind. He quit! Shortly after this time, God removed Elijah from the earth but replaced him with Elisha. Elisha actually completed the ministry originally given to Elijah. Elisha’s first miracle was the same as Elijah’s last. He parted the Jordan River and completed what Elijah had begun. If you do not complete your work on earth, God will find someone who will complete it. In our spiritual race, the runners are important but not as important as handing off the baton—the work of God. The work of God is most important!
Even Jesus wanted to quit just before He went to the cross, but ended his petition with “not my will, but yours be done” (Matthew 26:39). Jesus had the Holy Spirit without measure and operated in the gifts of the Spirit. Jesus was anointed by the Holy Spirit at the Jordan in a visible way and from a young age, studied the Word of God. Yet, He too, was tempted to “throw in the towel” and not complete His work. But personal character allowed Jesus to finish his course. Jesus did not use something unavailable to us. His life was an example to us of how to complete the work of God.
What is Really Important?
vs. 36 “For David, after he had served his own generation by the will of God, fell asleep, and was laid unto his fathers, and saw corruption:”
What would you like to have engraved on your tombstone? Would you like to be remembered as being rich, healthy, or one who loved his family? All of these are well and good, but I would like to have David’s last memorial as my own. I would like it to be said that I served my generation by the will of God.
Was David rich at his death? Yes. David was wealthy beyond his wildest imagination. He had enough money to give enormous sums to the building of the temple for the next generation. Was David healthy up until his death? Yes. David lived many years and enjoyed good health. Were either of these two remembered of David? No. David was remembered for serving his generation by the will of God.
Money and health are both benefits of God for the redeemed, but they are not the reason we have been left on earth. We are to use money and health as tools to complete the work of God. The money remains behind, but the souls affected by our lives go on to heaven with us. We will not receive rewards in heaven for our financial status or health, but we will receive rewards for finishing our work. Paul said it this way at the end of his life and the completion of his work, “I have fought the good fight, I have finished my course, I have kept the faith: Henceforth there is laid up for me a crown of righteousness (2 Timothy 4:7-8).
All of the good health and money made available to Paul were used as tools to complete his work and fulfill his ministry.
When a master home builder dies, he might leave behind many tools in his garage or tool shed. Usually, we do not admire the tools he owned, but the homes he completed with those tools. After his death, families are still being blessed by the homes the builder completed throughout their city. The tools were used to build lasting monuments. Tools in and of themselves do not bless people. It is what those tools are able to build that blesses people.
Prosperity and long life are the “tools” we use to complete our calling and to finish the work the Lord has for us to accomplish in our generation. We are not left on this earth to heap blessings on ourselves, but to minister to others. My prayer for you is that you will find and complete the work God has for you so that it can be said of you, “They served their generation well by the will of God!”