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We need to be emptied to be filled

At times in my life, I’ve felt like such a loser. I’ve felt like I was losing the things I held dear. Losing my job, losing my income, losing my sense of self-respect. And I couldn’t help drawing the conclusion that maybe God didn’t want me to be happy.   Does God want us to be hap…
By Seth Barnes
By Seth Barnes
At times in my life, I’ve felt like such a loser. I’ve felt like I was losing the things I held dear. Losing my job, losing my income, losing my sense of self-respect. And I couldn’t help
drawing the conclusion that maybe God didn’t want me to be happy.
Does God want us to be happy? Yes, of course. The Bible tells us that he wants us to prosper.   “Beloved, I pray that you may prosper in all things and be in health, just as your soul prospers.” (3 John 2-4) But what does that mean?
Some preachers take verses like that and emphasize a
“name-it-claim-it” theology. They say that God wants us to be
prosperous, as in he wants us to have lots of stuff. I don’t think that’s the way God works. Aside from the fact that a great many Bible passages warn us of the problem of having a bunch of stuff, I see a more basic problem.
Prosperity theology is all about filling – fill your wallet, fill your garage, fill your shopping list. But it has little to
say about emptying, about the process of losing. The problem is that so much of God’s work in our lives is the work of emptying. He want to get us to drop the useless things that fill our hands and hearts. He wants us to drop the habits that cause heartache and take us away from our purpose in life.
Try to think of an example in Scripture where a man
of God didn’t go through brokenness and emptying before God’s purpose was revealed in him.
Common sense tells you that things must be emptied before they can be
filled. And if it’s true in the physical realm, all the more in the
spiritual realm.

It’s counterintuitive that you would pray for intimacy and that God would respond by moving you toward brokenness. If that’s divine love, then we’d all be excused for praying instead that God just ignore us. But moving us to brokenness is an act of grace. We’re already broken – he’s just helping us to recognize that. The state of brokenness is when you see what was dysfunctional all along.
When we
understand that he’s simply getting us to let loose of the grip we have on cheap stuff that we’ll one day just throw away, we can see his emptying process for what it is – an act of love.

Comments (7)

  • “He is no fool who gives what he cannot keep to gain what he will never lose”.

    Jim Eliot of Wheaton College and then martyred missionary stock could have been a World Racer age and passion wise.

    I love the clarion call you are sounding Seth.

    And they will come.

  • Amen. That is really all I have to say is Amen. I have been being broken to pieces since February of 2009, but now, even though He continues to break and mold me, the filling season has begun. And I cry and rejoice at the same time. Let me tell you, that makes for some interesting worship!

  • Less of me and more of Him.

    Not an easy process, definitely not fun. Worth it when you’re free, but sometimes it’s hard to see that when you’re going through it. That picture shows exactly what it’s felt like for me before. Cruising along and suddenly SMACK! Flipped over on my face hard, hurting.

  • Jesus made Himself of “No Reputation” and took upon Himself the “form of a servant” and the “appearance of a man.” Literally, He “emptied Himself!” Jesus is our Prime Example. Paul followed suit (as well as all of Jesus’ disciples) in that the things he and the world around him could have considered “great gain,” He counted as loss for the supreme knowledge of Christ. Father God is teaching me a valuable lesson in the art of making my self of no reputation. What’s more, is God does not make us of no reputation, rather, through life’s situations, He affords us the opportunity and privilege of making the choice ourselves. I am the only one who can make myself of no reputation! I have learned in my own life…when my reputation is on the line, I can either defend it or, like Jesus, remain silent. Jesus did not defend Himself against the false witnesses and the world’s opinion of who He was. He kept silent. However, neither did He deny God’s assessment and opinion of who He was. “Are you the Son of God?” Perhaps the process of “emptying ourselves” involves walking in a confidence of who God has made us in Christ. Then we can adopt this “Don’t defend–Don’t deny” mindset. Food for thought…

    Great stuff, Seth. Much love for you and appreciation for God’s ministry through you.

    Peace and Blessings…


  • The “emptying” has been a three year process for me. As I put it to a friend yesterday, God’s been erasing everything I thought to be true on the dry-erase board of my life. Now that He’s working with a clean slate, He’s writing things I never could’ve comprehended before: I’m a son. I have authority. I’m an expendable, joyful slave…

  • Preach it brother.

    The prosperity gospel has made a hash of things in the western world and is making a mess in Africa as well. How many people have I met who have abandoned the faith or are defeated b/c they didn’t have enough faith for God to make them rich, or healthy or whole…too many.

    Jesus didn’t die to make us healthy, wealthy & wise. He died so that we could be reconciled to His Father. He then called us to come and die w/ Him.

    Better be careful or I won’t stop short of a novel. Keep up the good work Seth.


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Seth Barnes

I'm motivated to join God in his global reclamation project. He's on the move, setting his sons and daughters free from their places of captivity. And he's partnering with those of us who have been freed to go and free others.

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