All the same, the great triumph is not in your authority over evil, but in God's authority over you and presence with you. Not what you do for God but what God does for you--that's the agenda for rejoicing. – Luke 10:20 MSG
I love this story. It is so typical of how we respond to God as we "perform" for Him. We get so proud of our efforts on His behalf. Like the disciples, we come back all excited about the power we have demonstrated. "The demons are subject to us in Your name!" (Luke 10:17 NASB). Look at us go! Aren't we doing some really fantastic things for you God? Aren't You proud of us? What would you do without us?
Yet Jesus responds to them in a very interesting way. He says, "do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20 NIV). This had very little to with what the disciples had just done, but it had everything to do with what Jesus was going to accomplish not too long into the future. We have a tendency to believe our own press clippings, and to begin to think that we are far more important to this story than we really are. In fact, we tend to want to make ourselves the stars of God's redemptive story. But there is only one star and that is Jesus Himself. He is far less interested in what we can do for Him than what think about what He has already done for us.
In his classic devotional book, My Utmost For His Highest, Oswald Chambers says, "Beware of anything that competes with your loyalty to Jesus Christ. The greatest competitor of true devotion to Jesus is the service we do for Him. It is easier to serve than to pour out our lives completely for Him. The goal of the call of God is His satisfaction, not simply that we should do something for Him. We are not sent to do battle for God, but to be used by God in His battles. Are we more devoted to service than we are to Jesus Christ Himself?"
We should rejoice that what Jesus has done makes it possible for our names to be written in heaven. We have permanent, irrevocable reservations there. Not because of anything we have done or will do, but because of what He has done on our behalf.
Father, thank You that my name is written in heaven. And it is not because of anything I have done or will do. Otherwise, it wouldn't be there at all. It is simply because of the sacrificial death of Jesus Christ on the cross as my sin substitute. Forgive for the many times I put far too much value in my accomplishments for You. Forgive me for trying to serve You more than worship You. Amen.