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The Lord's Call to Jew and Gentile

(Isaiah 49:1-6)

Lesson 1 -- first quarter 2002
December 2, 2001

by Mark Roth
© Copyright 2001, Christian Light Publications

Is less enough?

If I write two of these today and two tomorrow, I shall be satisfied. But I know that I could write four today and another four tomorrow. One of my missionary friends still awaits a note from me, so if I get that done also, I'll be quite pleased. But I have another missionary friend who would surely like to hear from me for something different. Outside we have apple trees to prune, berry briars to clear, and a car to wash. I would be delighted to get the car washed.

We all have tasks that should get done. Of those, certain ones absolutely must be done and can be done. Alas, too often we settle for less than the musts and even less than the cans. We become comfortable with incompleteness.

That is not to say that we should be frenetic, driven, and over-engrossed in always getting more done. We need to prioritize correctly and then accomplish what we can of what must be done.

In the last verse of the text, I get the idea that less would have been "to raise up the tribes of Jacob, and to restore the preserved of Israel." What an essential and noble assignment that was! Even so, God said it was "a light thing." So ... "I will also give thee for a light to the Gentiles, that thou mayest be my salvation unto the end of the earth." Less would have been grand for Jacob and Israel, but God had more to be accomplished. So less was not enough.

Be good for nothing!

Are you good for nothing?

Sometimes we think we don't amount to anything. We feel we can't do anything right, at least not anything that matters. We come to the place of figuring there is nothing good, positive, or laudable about us or in us. While it is certainly true that the Bible clearly says that no one is perfect, that is not what we have in mind when we feel good for nothing. We feel we have no worth, no value, no good as a person. That's an awful (and awfully wrong) feeling.

On the other hand, sometimes we think that no one notices or cares about the good that we accomplish. We feel that we have done something right, but somehow it hasn't accomplished or proven anything. We figure our good goes unrecognized and unappreciated. In other words, we were good . . . for nothing. That too is an awful (and awfully wrong) feeling.

In Isaiah 49:4 we note someone else who apparently struggled with that second kind of good-for-nothing feeling: "Then I said, I have laboured in vain, I have spent my strength for nought, and in vain." When you feel this way, you are basically saying that as far as you can tell, the good you did and the energy you expended was all for nothing.

When you feel that way, you need a better perspective! The rest of verse four is that perspective: "yet surely my judgment is with the LORD, and my work with my God." This point of view acknowledges God as the only accurate judge of the worth and value of the good we do. When we get away from our own meager, limited little perspective, we know that God sees far more and far farther than we ever will. The good we do rests with Him, so let Him be the judge!

Let's take heart by reminding ourselves once again of our responsibility: Be faithful servants and let the honor for our deeds be God's! "Thou art my servant, O Israel, in whom I will be glorified" (Isaiah 49:3). May God be glorified in His people today as well.

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