I have known more than a few people over the years who, on account of their great successes and achievements at work, were rewarded with a generous promotion. Generally speaking, promotions are directly tied to past performance. When we prove ourselves capable of performing the tasks we have already been given, the expectation is that we can handle even more responsibility. Success is often how we measure future potential. Even Jesus suggested on one occasion that ‘he who is faithful in little things will be faithful in greater things.’
But does this necessarily mean that failure, or at least a lack of success, should disqualify us being entrusted with greater things? According to this week’s passage from the Book of the Prophet Isaiah, you can fail at something miserably and still get the promotion. Speaking on behalf of the “Servant of the Lord,” Isaiah considers his utter lack of success at the tasks God has given him, and concludes regretfully that he has “spent his strength for nothing at all.” And yet, the Lord rewards him with even greater tasks: “It is too small a thing,” says the Lord, “for you to be my servant… I will also make you a light to the Gentiles, that my salvation will reach to the ends of the earth.”
If you have ever experienced failure, or stumbled your way through a long season in which your work did not bear fruit, Isaiah’s message is one of tremendous hope. The Lord gives to us as the Lord desires, not as we deserve, and not as others determine. Genuine faithfulness to a task does not ever guarantee success, but it almost always reveals our true character. And it is our true character that God sees, and that God intends to use for greater things.
See you Sunday,