The International Day of Prayer for the Persecuted Church has come and gone again. Over the last few years it is a day that we have observed as a church that produces seriously mixed feelings in me and I imagine many of you as well. On the one hand, a night set aside for prayer, letter writing and supply gathering for Christians living under the onslaught of relentless persecution is truly a blessing. It is a blessing as we gather together, fellowship, and plead for God’s mercy. On the other hand, a night of prayer, and especially the gathering of supplies for brothers and sisters in Sudan and Pakistan can come with a temptation for us to pat ourselves on the back and spend the rest of our year, satisfied that we’ve done our part. Additionally, we must fight off the temptation to think we’ve some how earned something by setting aside a night and a few dollars to serve the persecuted church. If we’re not careful, the enemy, in collusion with our sinful hearts, can take a night like the one we had last Wednesday and twist into an opportunity to give ourselves credit and glory rather than God.
At the very least, these are the temptations I must be wary of in my own life. I must remember after nights like last Wednesday that even my service to God is HIS grace to me.
I say this because of at least two verses in Scripture.
“Let us rejoice and exult
and give him the glory,
for the marriage of the Lamb has come,
and his Bride has made herself ready;
it was granted her to clothe herself
with fine linen, bright and pure”—
for the fine linen is the righteous deeds of the saints.”
and Ephesians 2:10,
“For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.“
Notice in Revelation that the “righteous deeds of the saints” are “granted” to the bride of Christ, the church to clothe herself in. The righteous deeds of the saints are GIVEN to us. How amazing!
And again, in Ephesians, our “good works” are prepared beforehand by God for us to walk in.
As long as the Church gathers together for good works we will always fight the temptation to take credit for what God has given us or granted us – or, even worse, assume that we have earned God’s favor by doing these things. How foolish we must look when we give into this temptation. Instead, let us praise Him all the more for giving us good works of righteousness to further necessitate our total dependance on Him!