It's Not About You

Many believers spend much of their prayer time asking to get their needs met.  I've got news for you:  It's not about you and your needs.

Give your needs to God!  Let Him meet them while you carry out your ministry of reconciliation, edifying the body of Christ.

God has promised to meet your needs, so let Him do it!  We need to be about our Father's business.

Jesus was about his Father's business at a very young age.  But before we look at that, I'd like to show you something else.  This is Jesus talking:

John 13:16:
Verily, verily, I say unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord; neither he that is sent greater than he that sent him.

John 15:20:
Remember the word that I said unto you, The servant is not greater than his lord. If they have persecuted me, they will also persecute you; if they have kept my saying, they will keep yours also.

The servant is not greater than his lord.  Whose servant are you?  Who is your lord?  Remember that as we read these verses about Jesus.

Luke 2:41-42:
Now his parents went to Jerusalem every year at the feast of the passover.
And when he was twelve years old, they went up to Jerusalem after the custom of the feast.

What's the significance of twelve years old?  In ancient Israel, a boy thirteen and older could ask questions of the rabbis.  Until that time, he could only listen.  However, if the boy was considered illegitimate, the age of asking questions was twelve.  In both cases, the age of teaching was thirty.

Luke 2:43-47:
And when they had fulfilled the days, as they returned, the child Jesus tarried behind in Jerusalem; and Joseph and his mother knew not of it.
But they, supposing him to have been in the company, went a day's journey; and they sought him among their kinsfolk and acquaintance.
And when they found him not, they turned back again to Jerusalem, seeking him.
And it came to pass, that after three days they found him in the temple, sitting in the midst of the doctors, both hearing them, and asking them questions.
And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and answers.

Notice it does not say he was teaching the doctors!  He was hearing them and asking them questions - something he wasn't allowed to do before that age.  In other words, he was learning.  Remember, he wouldn't have been allowed to teach until he was thirty.

The word "answers" in verse 47 is the plural of the Greek word "apokrisis" meaning "a response" (Strong's number 612).  So verse 47 should read, "And all that heard him were astonished at his understanding and responses."  If you've spent any time with children of that age, it should be obvious that some of his responses would have been more questions.

Jesus was not answering questions the doctors asked in order to learn from him.  Their questions, if any, would have been questions from teacher to student.  Jesus responded to the doctors' answers, questions, and comments with great understanding for a boy of his age, so much so that all who heard him were astonished.

Now notice it says they found him after three days.  Does that mean three days after they left Jerusalem or three days after they realized he wasn't with them or three days after they got back to Jerusalem?  I don't know, but they went a day's journey away from Jerusalem, a day's journey or perhaps a night's journey back, and possibly found him three days after that.  That's three to five days he wasn't with them.  Who took care of him during that time?

Luke 2:48:
And when they saw him, they were amazed: and his mother said unto him, Son, why hast thou thus dealt with us? behold, thy father and I have sought thee sorrowing.

They sought him sorrowing.  In other words, they were worried.  Perhaps they remembered the attempts on his life when he was born.

Luke 2:49:
And he said unto them, How is it that ye sought me? wist ye not that I must be about my Father's business?

He was about his Father's business.  At the age of twelve!

The servant is not greater than his lord.  Shouldn't we also be about our Father's business?

Notice the tone of the verse.  Doesn't it sound like he expected Joseph and Mary to know he would be about his Father's business?  He knew who he was.  Joseph and Mary had taught him who he was.  Shouldn't they have known what his focus would be?

So Joseph and Mary were worried about Jesus when they looked for him.  But, apparently, his Father took care of him during those three days.  Perhaps He'll take care of you, also, while you're about your Father's business.

Luke 2:50-52:
And they understood not the saying which he spake unto them.
And he went down with them, and came to Nazareth, and was subject unto them: but his mother kept all these sayings in her heart.
And Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favour with God and man.

Notice it says Jesus increased in wisdom and stature, and in favor with God and man.  Could that also have been a result of being about his Father's business?

Now let's look at what Jesus told his disciples:

Matthew 28:16-20:
Then the eleven disciples went away into Galilee, into a mountain where Jesus had appointed them.
And when they saw him, they worshipped him: but some doubted.
And Jesus came and spake unto them, saying, All power is given unto me in heaven and in earth.
Go ye therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Ghost:
Teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I have commanded you: and, lo, I am with you alway, even unto the end of the world. Amen.

According to all the evidence, a better translation of Jesus' words would be:

All authority has been given to me in heaven and on earth.  Go, therefore, disciple all the nations in my name, teaching them to observe all things whatsoever I commanded you.  And lo, I am with you all the days until the completion of the age.

(See the article titled, "In Whose Name" for a complete discussion of this topic.)

Jesus gave those eleven disciples the task of discipling all nations in his name.

What about us?  What about our situation?

2 Corinthians 5:17-20:
Therefore if any man be in Christ, he is a new creature: old things are passed away; behold, all things are become new.
And all things are of God, who hath reconciled us to himself by Jesus Christ, and hath given to us the ministry of reconciliation;
To wit, that God was in Christ, reconciling the world unto himself, not imputing their trespasses unto them; and hath committed unto us the word of reconciliation.
Now then we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God did beseech you by us: we pray you in Christ's stead, be ye reconciled to God.

So then we have the ministry of reconciliation and we have the word of reconciliation.  That would be reconciling people back to God, i.e., bringing people back to God and mending the rifts between them and God.  Doesn't that sound like our Father's business?

Colossians 3:1-2:
If ye then be risen with Christ, seek those things which are above, where Christ sitteth on the right hand of God.
Set your affection on things above, not on things on the earth.

Notice it says, "If ye then be risen with Christ ..."  You're risen with Christ if you've confessed with your mouth the lord Jesus and believed in your heart that God has raised him from the dead (Romans 10:9).

If you're risen with Christ, you're living in a higher plane, seated in the heavenlies.  Doesn't it make sense to want and to look for those things which are above?  Having lived in the heavenlies, why would you want to return to the grime of the earth?

When I pull back on the yoke and the plane lifts off the runway, all the cares of the world are left behind.  We climb above the houses, trees, buildings, even the clouds.  We're in a different world.  It's calm and peaceful.  Even the weather is different up here.  Our perspective goes immediately from a few feet or a few blocks to a hundred miles and more.  And we want to rescue those, poor souls we see caught in the traffic jam below.

That's what seated in the heavenlies is like.  We're unaffected by the traps and snares we see others caught in.  Instead, we have compassion on people and rescue them.  We help them get past their fear of trusting God and then they can fly, too.

Colossians 3:3:
For ye are dead, and your life is hid with Christ in God.

Notice it says you're dead and your life is hid with Christ in God.  If your life is in God, that's a closer relationship than you'd have to someone who saved your life.

Colossians 3:4:
When Christ, who is our life, shall appear, then shall ye also appear with him in glory.

Take out the italics (added words) to get the full impact of the figure of speech.  "When Christ, our life, shall appear, ..."

If Christ is your life, is your life about getting your needs met?  No!  If Christ is your life, then your life is about Christ because without him you have no life!

What was Christ's life about?  He said he must be about his Father's business.  So then our lives are really all about being about our Father's business.

Then how will our needs be met?  Notice it says, "... then shall ye also appear with him in glory."  Don't worry about your needs.  If you're going to appear with him in glory, don't you think your needs will be met?

Now here's what we do instead of worrying about our needs or trying to get them met:

Colossians 3:12:
Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering;

bowels of mercies = bowels of compassion
In modern English, we would say, "heart of compassion."

Why would that be the first item in this list of things to put on?  Perhaps because Jesus did most everything he did out of compassion.  If Christ is our life, then, perhaps, we might want to do the same.  In fact, we will do the same when we remember who we are in Christ.

Colossians 3:13-15:
Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye.
And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness.
And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful.

Notice it does not say, "Make yourself peaceful."  It says, "let the peace of God rule in your hearts ..."  Because you have a heart for God, the peace of God wants to rule in your heart; it's trying to rule in your heart.  All you have to do is let it.  How do you do that?  Keep your eyes on Christ.  Remember who you are in Christ.  Put on a heart of compassion, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, and patience; forbear; forgive; and love with the love of God.

Colossians 3:16-17:
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly in all wisdom; teaching and admonishing one another in psalms and hymns and spiritual songs, singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.
And whatsoever ye do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God and the Father by him.

Do you see the heart of this?  Do you see that this is how to live in a higher plane, above the world and above the evil in the world?

Let's see some more about our present situation:

1 Corinthians 3:21-23:
Therefore let no man glory in men. For all things are yours;
Whether Paul, or Apollos, or Cephas, or the world, or life, or death, or things present, or things to come; all are yours;
And ye are Christ's; and Christ is God's.

See that?  All things are ours!  So we can just take anything we want and do with it as we please, right?  No!  Because we are Christ's!  We must obey him.  After all, he is our lord (master, ruler, commander, the one from whom we take orders), isn't he?  But Christ doesn't even do as he pleases because he is God's.  Remember?  "Not my will but Thine be done."

So we belong to Christ and do as he says.  And he belongs to God and does as He says.  And we have everything to use at the time and in the manner that God wants us to use it.  But our obligation, our focus, is to do as Christ, the head of the body, tells us.

So it's not about us and what we want or think we need.  We are to do God's Will according to the direction Jesus Christ gives us.

Now let's look at Romans:

Romans 12:1:
I beseech you therefore, brethren, by the mercies of God, that ye present your bodies a living sacrifice, holy, acceptable unto God, which is your reasonable service.

reasonable = rational or logical (Greek logikos)

Notice it says we are to present our bodies a living sacrifice.  If you're a sacrifice, your life is not about you; it's about the one for whom you are the sacrifice.

Romans 12:2-3:
And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind, that ye may prove what is that good, and acceptable, and perfect, will of God.
For I say, through the grace given unto me, to every man that is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think; but to think soberly, according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith.

This verse has been misunderstood for centuries.  It's been used to teach that we're just sinners, maybe saved by grace, but sinners none the less, no better than a worm.  So you'd better not think too highly of yourself.

Some have even taught that it's a figure of speech that means the opposite of what it says.  So we should think big, think a lot of ourselves.  After all, we're sons of God.

And all because of the added words.  Cross them out!

This verse has nothing to do with what you think of yourself!  It has everything to do with what opinion you have and in which direction you are earnestly, mentally disposed.  In other words, whether you think the Word is more valid and more true than other opinions, including your own.

The words, "to think more highly," are translated from one Greek word, "huperphroneo," which is a combination of "huper," meaning "over" or "above," and "phroneo," meaning, "to exercise the mind, i.e., to have a sentiment or opinion; by implication to be (mentally) disposed (more or less earnestly in a certain direction)."  The interlinear translates it, "to be high-minded," but it could easily be translated, "to over-exercise the mind" or "to be over-earnestly, mentally disposed in a certain direction."

The word, "soberly," is translated from the Greek word, "sophron," which is a combination of "sos" (a contraction for the obsolete word "saos" and from which the Greek word, "sozo," "to save," is derived), meaning, "safe," and "phroneo," which we just discussed.  The interlinear translates it, "to be sober-minded," but it could be translated, "to safely-exercise the mind" or "to be earnestly, mentally disposed in a certain, safe direction."  Notice it's used as the opposite of "huperphroneo."

So we're not to over-exercise our minds; we're to safely exercise our minds.  We're not to be over-earnestly, mentally disposed in a certain direction; we're to be safely, mentally disposed in a certain direction.

So, what's the safe direction in which we are to be mentally disposed?  How about what the Word says?  How do we safely exercise our minds?  How about we think what the Word says?  What opinion should we earnestly hold?  How about God's opinion which we find in His Word?

You see, you may think you're a sinner; you may think you're a worm; and that opinion doesn't sound high-minded.  But does that opinion line up with the Word?  That's what this verse is talking about.

The interlinear translates that phrase, "not to be high-minded above what it behooves [you] to be minded; but to be minded so as to be sober-minded."  In other words, we don't value other thoughts and opinions, our own or anybody else's, as high as we value God's thoughts and opinions.  Instead we endeavor to think God's thoughts and hold God's opinions, which we find in His Word.

Now, in the next verses, God's going to give us some of His opinions:

Romans 12:4-5:
For as we have many members in one body, and all members have not the same office:
So we, being many, are one body in Christ, and every one members one of another.

God's opinion is that we're one body in Christ and every one of us is a member of every other.  Wouldn't that include even the believer who is less respected, perhaps less together, perhaps with some wrong doctrine in his head or weird ways of doing things?  Are we members of him?  Is he a member of us?  I didn't write the book.

But notice it says we all don't have the same office or ministry.  Doesn't that imply that we each have an office, a ministry?  1 Corinthians 12:27 says we're members in particular.  In other words, we each have a particular place in the body of Christ.

Romans 12:6-8:
Having then gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us, whether prophecy, let us prophesy according to the proportion of faith;
Or ministry, let us wait on our ministering: or he that teacheth, on teaching;
Or he that exhorteth, on exhortation: he that giveth, let him do it with simplicity; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that sheweth mercy, with cheerfulness.

So we are to get on with our ministries.  In other words, we are to be about our Father's business.

Now, I know that we need to keep checking the Word to see if what we think God told us to do is in accordance with His Word.  And we have to be boldly honest with ourselves about that if we're going to do anyone any good.  And we still need to walk in love etc. while we're doing what He told us to do.  But once God has told you to do something, do you really need anyone else's permission?

We need to get on with our ministries.  We need to be about our Father's business.

Romans 12:9:
Let love be without dissimulation. Abhor that which is evil; cleave to that which is good.

The text reads, "Love without hypocrisy, abhorring that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, ..."  In other words, "Love for real."  And then it describes some of what real love is:  "abhorring that which is evil, cleaving to that which is good, kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love;" etc. to the end of the chapter.

This is God's opinion of what love is.  Let's read it.

Romans 12:10-20:
Be kindly affectioned one to another with brotherly love; in honour preferring one another;
Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;
Rejoicing in hope; patient in tribulation; continuing instant in prayer;
Distributing to the necessity of saints; given to hospitality.
Bless them which persecute you: bless, and curse not.
Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep.
Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits.
Recompense to no man evil for evil. Provide things honest in the sight of all men.
If it be possible, as much as lieth in you, live peaceably with all men.
Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
Therefore if thine enemy hunger, feed him; if he thirst, give him drink: for in so doing thou shalt heap coals of fire on his head.

The coals of fire are in a container on his head and they warm him in the early morning as he goes from house to house giving out coals to start the cook fires.

Romans 12:21:
Be not overcome of evil, but overcome evil with good.

Do you see how these things are thinking not of ourselves but of others?  It's not about us; we're to be living sacrifices.  These are God's thoughts on how to be a living sacrifice.  Why?  Because we're not our own; we're bought with a price; we belong to Jesus Christ.

So, are our lives all about sacrifice?

Absolutely not!  Think about it.  A sacrifice is made to accomplish something.  Old Testament sacrifices, for example, were made for atonement, peace, thanksgiving, in performing a vow, etc.  The sacrifice is never the main thing; never the purpose.  Sacrifices are not made for sacrifice sake.  They're made to accomplish something else; something important.

What are we, as living sacrifices, to accomplish?

Acts 9:31:
Then had the churches rest throughout all Judaea and Galilee and Samaria, and were edified; and walking in the fear of the Lord, and in the comfort of the Holy Ghost, were multiplied.

Notice it says the churches had rest, were edified, and were multiplied.  Edification is a building up.  Something can be built up either in quality or quantity.  In other words, it can be built better or larger.

Romans 14:19:
Let us therefore follow after the things which make for peace, and things wherewith one may edify another.

We follow after the things which bring peace and things with which we may edify one another.

Romans 15:1-2:
We then that are strong ought to bear the infirmities of the weak, and not to please ourselves.
Let every one of us please his neighbour for his good to edification.

Notice it doesn't just say each of us should please his neighbor, but please him for good to edification.  He might not be pleased at the moment, but he will be after he realizes he's better off.

Romans 15:3-7:
For even Christ pleased not himself; but, as it is written, The reproaches of them that reproached thee fell on me.
For whatsoever things were written aforetime were written for our learning, that we through patience and comfort of the scriptures might have hope.
Now the God of patience and consolation grant you to be likeminded one toward another according to Christ Jesus:
That ye may with one mind and one mouth glorify God, even the Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.
Wherefore receive ye one another, as Christ also received us to the glory of God.

Even Christ didn't please himself.  His sacrifice, ended up being to the glory of God.  When we receive one another as Christ received us (not condemning us but giving himself for us, edifying us through his teaching and by sending us holy spirit), it's to the glory of God.

1 Corinthians 8:1:
Now as touching things offered unto idols, we know that we all have knowledge. Knowledge puffeth up, but charity edifieth.

The love of God edifies, builds people up.

1 Corinthians 10:23:
All things are lawful for me, but all things are not expedient: all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not.

Notice the criteria as to whether I should do something is whether or not it will edify.

1 Corinthians 10:24:
Let no man seek his own, but every man another's wealth.

In modern English we might say, "Don't concentrate on getting things for yourself; help someone else."

1 Corinthians 10:25-28:
Whatsoever is sold in the shambles, that eat, asking no question for conscience sake:
For the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof.
If any of them that believe not bid you to a feast, and ye be disposed to go; whatsoever is set before you, eat, asking no question for conscience sake.
But if any man say unto you, This is offered in sacrifice unto idols, eat not for his sake that shewed it, and for conscience sake: for the earth is the Lord's, and the fulness thereof:

Notice it's still (since chapter 8) talking about things offered to idols.

1 Corinthians 10:29-11:1:
Conscience, I say, not thine own, but of the other: for why is my liberty judged of another man's conscience?
For if I by grace be a partaker, why am I evil spoken of for that for which I give thanks?
Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.
Give none offence, neither to the Jews, nor to the Gentiles, nor to the church of God:
Even as I please all men in all things, not seeking mine own profit, but the profit of many, that they may be saved.
Be ye followers of me, even as I also am of Christ.

Notice verse 31 says, "... whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God."  Remember verse 23 says, "... all things are lawful for me, but all things edify not."  It seems like there's a dual purpose here.  Whatever we do, we are to do it to both glorify God and to edify each other in the body of Christ.  But actually, edifying each other also glorifies God.

So the purpose of our being living sacrifices is to glorify God and edify each other in the body of Christ.  Do you see how glorifying God and edifying each other are more important than exercising any freedoms we may have?

1 Corinthians 14:1-3:
Follow after charity, and desire spiritual gifts, but rather that ye may prophesy.
For he that speaketh in an unknown tongue speaketh not unto men, but unto God: for no man understandeth him; howbeit in the spirit he speaketh mysteries.
But he that prophesieth speaketh unto men to edification, and exhortation, and comfort.

Ok.  So there you are in your church or fellowship meeting, speaking in tongues, speaking mysteries which glorify God.  But what about the guy next to you?

You see, it's not about you and your walk with God.  Yes, of course, that's part of it, but it's only a part.  The meeting is supposed to bless everyone who's there.

1 Corinthians 14:4-5:
He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church.
I would that ye all spake with tongues; but rather that ye prophesied: for greater is he that prophesieth than he that speaketh with tongues, except he interpret, that the church may receive edifying.

Notice we're not talking about edifying just one; we're talking about edifying the whole assembly.  What you say and do can edify the whole assembly.  How?  By prophesying.  By interpreting.

Here are some more ways to edify everyone in the meeting:

1 Corinthians 14:6:
Now, brethren, if I come unto you speaking with tongues, what shall I profit you, except I shall speak to you either by revelation, or by knowledge, or by prophesying, or by doctrine?

except = unless
doctrine = teaching

Notice the focus on profiting the other guy.  You can profit or edify the other guy by revelation (saying something God has told you to say), by knowledge (telling what God has done for you), by prophesying (a message from God or for God to the people present), or by doctrine (teaching the Word).

1 Corinthians 14:12:
Even so ye, forasmuch as ye are zealous of spiritual gifts, seek that ye may excel to the edifying of the church.

There you have it.  We are to excel to the edifying of the church, the assembly, the believers who are gathered together for a meeting.

1 Corinthians 14:13-20:
Wherefore let him that speaketh in an unknown tongue pray that he may interpret.
For if I pray in an unknown tongue, my spirit prayeth, but my understanding is unfruitful.
What is it then? I will pray with the spirit, and I will pray with the understanding also: I will sing with the spirit, and I will sing with the understanding also.
Else when thou shalt bless with the spirit, how shall he that occupieth the room of the unlearned say Amen at thy giving of thanks, seeing he understandeth not what thou sayest?
For thou verily givest thanks well, but the other is not edified.
I thank my God, I speak with tongues more than ye all:
Yet in the church I had rather speak five words with my understanding, that by my voice I might teach others also, than ten thousand words in an unknown tongue.
Brethren, be not children in understanding: howbeit in malice be ye children, but in understanding be men.

Again, notice the focus on edifying the other guy, in fact, the whole church, assembly, gathering.  We, each, need to be built up, but we focus on edifying the other guy.

1 Corinthians 14:24-26:
But if all prophesy, and there come in one that believeth not, or one unlearned, he is convinced of all, he is judged of all:
And thus are the secrets of his heart made manifest; and so falling down on his face he will worship God, and report that God is in you of a truth.
How is it then, brethren? when ye come together, every one of you hath a psalm, hath a doctrine, hath a tongue, hath a revelation, hath an interpretation. Let all things be done unto edifying.

How = What
Most of the critical Greek texts list "tongue" next to last, just before "interpretation."

Songs, teachings, revelations, tongues and interpretations are things which will edify the people at the meeting.  The important thing is that everything in the meeting be done to edify everyone at the meeting.  It's not about ourselves; it's about edifying the body of Christ.

2 Corinthians 10:7-8:
Do ye look on things after the outward appearance? If any man trust to himself that he is Christ's, let him of himself think this again, that, as he is Christ's, even so are we Christ's.
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:

See that?  The lord gave them authority for edification, not for destruction, not for tearing down.

Notice it also says that if any man trust that he, himself, is Christ's let him also think that as he is Christ's, so are we.  In other words, whoever belongs to Christ (which means he has Christ in him) is required to see the Christ in other believers.

Think about it.  Can you really edify another believer if you can't see the Christ in him?  And for the people who don't have Christ in them, teach them Romans 10:9-10 to give them an opportunity to have Christ in them, because they won't be able to know the things of the spirit of God until they do (1 Cor. 2:14).

2 Corinthians 10:8-11:
For though I should boast somewhat more of our authority, which the Lord hath given us for edification, and not for your destruction, I should not be ashamed:
That I may not seem as if I would terrify you by letters.
For his letters, say they, are weighty and powerful; but his bodily presence is weak, and his speech contemptible.
Let such an one think this, that, such as we are in word by letters when we are absent, such will we be also in deed when we are present.

Powerful in word when absent and in deed when present, exercising the authority God gave him to edify, not to destroy or tear down.

2 Corinthians 10:12-13:
For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.
But we will not boast of things without our measure, but according to the measure of the rule which God hath distributed to us, a measure to reach even unto you.

Notice it says those who commend themselves, also measure themselves by themselves and compare themselves among themselves, and are not wise.  We don't commend ourselves; we don't judge ourselves (1 Cor. 4:3); we're not even focused on ourselves.  Our focus is outward, on God, on Christ, and on edifying the body of Christ.  It's not about us; it's about glorifying God and edifying the body of Christ.  And whatever comparing we do must be according to God's measure, which is always designed to edify, not to tear down.

2 Corinthians 12:19:
Again, think ye that we excuse ourselves unto you? we speak before God in Christ: but we do all things, dearly beloved, for your edifying.

Notice once again it says all things for your edifying.

2 Corinthians 13:3-7:
Since ye seek a proof of Christ speaking in me, which to you-ward is not weak, but is mighty in you.
For though he was crucified through weakness, yet he liveth by the power of God. For we also are weak in him, but we shall live with him by the power of God toward you.
Examine yourselves, whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves. Know ye not your own selves, how that Jesus Christ is in you, except ye be reprobates?
But I trust that ye shall know that we are not reprobates.
Now I pray to God that ye do no evil; not that we should appear approved, but that ye should do that which is honest, though we be as reprobates.

It's not about how we appear; it's about edifying others so they "do that which is honest," i.e., honestly walk with God and honestly carry out their ministries.

2 Corinthians 13:8-10:
For we can do nothing against the truth, but for the truth.
For we are glad, when we are weak, and ye are strong: and this also we wish, even your perfection.
Therefore I write these things being absent, lest being present I should use sharpness, according to the power which the Lord hath given me to edification, and not to destruction.

perfection = thorough equipment (Gr. katartisis).  This is not perfection in performance, but, rather, in preparation.  In other words, it's a thorough outfitting, as a ship for a voyage.  (See 2 Tim. 3:17.)

We're glad when other believers are stronger than we are.  In fact, we'd like them to be thoroughly equipped.  Notice it says again that the power the lord has given is for edification, not destruction.

Ephesians 4:11-12:
And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers;
For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:

perfecting = complete furnishing (Gr. katartismos).  Like katartisis, not perfecting performance, but preparation.  In other words, a thorough outfitting, as a ship for a voyage.  (See 2 Tim. 3:17.)

Here are five ministries listed, which are for the full outfitting of the saints.  Fully outfitting or thoroughly equipping sounds a lot like edifying, doesn't it?

As many of you may know, the Greek prepositions in verse 12 give the following understanding:  "for the thorough outfitting of the saints, so the saints can do the work of the ministry, so the work of the ministry can edify the body of Christ."

Notice the immediate purpose of these five ministries is the thorough outfitting of the saints (a specific kind of edification) and the end result is the edifying (increasing in quality or quantity) of the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:13-16:
Till we all come in the unity of the faith, and of the knowledge of the Son of God, unto a perfect man, unto the measure of the stature of the fulness of Christ:
That we henceforth be no more children, tossed to and fro, and carried about with every wind of doctrine, by the sleight of men, and cunning craftiness, whereby they lie in wait to deceive;
But speaking the truth in love, may grow up into him in all things, which is the head, even Christ:
From whom the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth, according to the effectual working in the measure of every part, maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love.

Notice it says we are to grow up.  Children are generally focused on their own needs and wants.  Babies, for example, even the cute ones, are generally not a bit shy about letting us know when they want something.  As they grow up, however, they're supposed to learn to give and share and be considerate of others' feelings and needs.

Contrary to the prayer life of many, God didn't put us here just so He could meet our needs.  Yes, He will meet our needs if we ask Him.  But that should never be our main focus.  We have a greater, more satisfying purpose:  We have work to do that will make a difference throughout eternity.  (Check out Lazarus, specifically, John 11:4; and Paul and Silas in prison, specifically, Acts 16:33.)

Notice it doesn't just say we are to grow up, but we are to grow up into Christ in all things.  How did Christ live here on Earth?  He loved people and had compassion on them.  Compassion is like love but includes doing something to help.  He also knew who he was and was about his Father's business from the age of twelve.  So if we're going to grow up into Christ, we'll love people, have compassion on them, know who we are in Christ, and be about our Father's business.

Then how will we get our needs met?  God will meet them.  Focusing on carrying out our ministries, edifying the body of Christ, and having compassion for others actually takes our minds off our needs and helps us let go of them and give them to God so He can meet them.  God is pretty good at meeting needs.  Remember Balaam (Num. 22-24)?  Israel didn't even know there was a danger, let alone ask for their need to be met.  But God met their need anyway.

Notice it also says Christ is the head, not any of us.  We don't tell him what to do; we don't tell God what to do; and we don't tell other believers what to do either.

We don't limit God in our prayers.  When we ask for our needs to be met, we don't tell Him how to meet them.  We let Him meet our needs in any way He sees fit.  And that's usually a way we didn't expect.

When Christ, the head of the body, sends us to minister to someone, we don't look at the circumstances or balk at the way the person looks or acts; we just minister as we're led, knowing God will give the increase.

We also don't tell other believers how to carry out their ministries.  God knows what He's doing and Jesus Christ knows what he's doing.  They're quite capable of telling other believers what to do and how to do it.  After all, God has made the other believers able ministers just like He did you (2 Cor. 3:4-6).

Notice it also says, "the whole body fitly joined together and compacted by that which every joint supplieth," and again, "according to the effectual working in the measure of every part."  Every joint needs to supply what it's designed to supply.  Every part needs to work effectually.  (effectual = producing the desired result)

You are needed!  Not only does God love you; He needs you!  No one else can do what you can do in the body of Christ!  When you're focused on your needs, you're not supplying what you're designed to supply; you're not working effectually.

Notice it also says, "maketh increase of the body unto the edifying of itself in love."  That's the point.  That's what it's about.  Edifying the body of Christ.

Ephesians 4:28-5:2:
Let him that stole steal no more: but rather let him labour, working with his hands the thing which is good, that he may have to give to him that needeth.
Let no corrupt communication proceed out of your mouth, but that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers.
And grieve not the holy Spirit of God, whereby ye are sealed unto the day of redemption.
Let all bitterness, and wrath, and anger, and clamour, and evil speaking, be put away from you, with all malice:
And be ye kind one to another, tenderhearted, forgiving one another, even as God for Christ's sake hath forgiven you.
Be ye therefore followers of God, as dear children;
And walk in love, as Christ also hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour.

Notice it says what you are to let proceed out of your mouth is "that which is good to the use of edifying, that it may minister grace unto the hearers."  Do you see how that's the standard?  If it doesn't edify, if it doesn't minister grace to the hearers, it's not worth your breath.  It's beneath your dignity to say it.

The servant is not greater than his lord.  If Christ "hath loved us, and hath given himself for us an offering and a sacrifice to God for a sweetsmelling savour," shouldn't we do the same for the believers?  And we walk by the spirit and do it God's way so what we do gets the desired results.

It's not about you.  It's about edifying the body of Christ to the glory of God our Father.  Give God your needs and focus on Him and on your ministries.

For more information, you might want to look at the prayers in Acts and the epistles and notice what they prayed for, and you might want to look up the words "build," "do all," "glory," and "all things."

By Jeffrey Moore, Southern California