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by Jacob Ninan

Every significant work that God carries out through people has one characteristic: His servants have a burden on their heart for their particular task. They would seek to carry out that task even if they are not noticed or appreciated by people, recognised as servants of God, or paid or rewarded in some way for doing it. They would attempt to go ahead even if they lose out in terms of money, health, reputation or earthly pleasures, or even when they are opposed, misunderstood, cast out or hindered by others. Jeremiah experienced the burden to speak the word God had placed in his heart as a burning fire within him that would not allow him to keep quiet (Je.20:9).

Jesus said that there was plenty of work to be done but few people who were willing to labour for it (Lk.10:2). Perhaps many would be willing to work if they were placed in the limelight before men, appreciated for the `good work', or got some reward for their `sacrifice'. But it is because the Lord's service involves a price we have to pay in an earthly sense that there is hardly any volunteer for it. On the other hand, those who truly serve the Lord are content with the reward of fellowship with the Lord Himself.

The burden that the Lord gives someone may be different from that He gives another. Daniel's burden was for Israel to return from captivity to Jerusalem. Nehemiah was interested in re-building the walls of Jerusalem. Ezra's task was to re-build the temple in Jerusalem. Each one carried out his own task, and the Lord fitted each task into its own place in the large work that He Himself was doing (1Co.3:6). It is not for us to want to do what others are doing, or to demand that they should also have the same burden that we have (1Co.12:15,21).

God looks for faithfulness according to what He has given us - in terms of abilities and opportunities. He requires much from those He has give much to (Lk.12:48). However those who have received `only one talent' - who are the large majority of His people - also have a debt to repay to the Lord who has given Himself for us. The Lord should be able to say about us that we did what we could (Mk.14:8).

If we need exhortations and reminders to do something for the Lord, it is clear that we have not received any burden from the Lord. The reason could be that we have never offered ourselves as living sacrifices to carry out His will (Ro.12:1). Or perhaps we have drawn back when we came up against hardship and opposition (Lk.9:62). God does not take men into His army as conscripts against their will, but He looks for volunteers who have counted the cost and are willing to serve Him because of their love and gratitude to Him (Lk.14:26-33). May He find many such among us.

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