The Great Challenge of the Great Commission

Pastor Chuck Smith shows believers how to fight discouragement.

Have you ever come to a point where you felt like giving up? When you thought, There’s no use even trying anymore. The task is too great; I can never do it. Or have you ever felt so overwhelmed or discouraged by your circumstances that you just could not take one more step? Or maybe your dreams were shattered, and you were left devastated.

If so, you know how Zerubbabel felt when he led the remnant of Judah back to Jerusalem after being held captive in Babylon. They were so looking forward to coming back to Jerusalem, having heard of the beauty of the city and of the temple. But when they arrived, they weren’t prepared for what they found—the destruction by the Babylonian army was so complete that the city was nothing but piles of rubble. The magnificent temple was completely destroyed. Their hearts sank, and their dreams were shattered.

Discouraged in the Work

At first, the people attempted to rebuild the temple, but they got so demoralized that they gave up. We know from the Book of Haggai—written roughly at the same time as this account in Zechariah—that the people got discouraged in the work. They stopped building the temple and started instead to work on their own houses (Haggai 1:2-4, 9-14). The piles of rubble were so big; they felt they weren’t making any headway. Then the Lord spoke through Haggai saying, “I am with you, says the LORD” (Haggai 1:13b). In response, the people came and worked on the house of the LORD of hosts, their God (Haggai 1:14b).

Perhaps that’s where you are today: discouraged, demoralized in the work of the Lord. Maybe it’s the challenge of the Great Commission, when Jesus told his disciples, “Go into all the world and preach the gospel to every creature” (Mark 16:15b). We look at our own weaknesses, and we think, How can I ever reach this world with the Gospel? People’s hearts are so hard.

When we look at the problem itself, we may feel like giving up because we are inadequate. But we must look to Christ, not ourselves. We must remember that our sufficiency is only in Him. We cannot focus on the difficulty of the task but rather on the power of Christ. Not that we are sufficient of ourselves … but our sufficiency is from God, who also made us sufficient as ministers of the new covenant … for the letter kills, but the Spirit gives life (2 Corinthians 3:5-6). Who gives life? Not you or me, but the Holy Spirit.

By My Spirit

In fact, the Lord spoke this very thing to the people who were rebuilding His temple: “This is the word of the Lord to Zerubbabel: ‘Not by might nor by power, but by My Spirit,’ says the Lord of hosts” (Zechariah 4:6b).

First, when we let the Holy Spirit do the work, not even a mountain will stand in the way (Zechariah 4:7). Maybe there are mountains of difficulty in your path and you’ve been laboring long and hard trying to move them. Perhaps this mountain is something hindering your walk with the Lord. Now you’ve come to the end of your strength, your resources. This is an opportunity for God to begin His work and to do for you what you can’t do for yourself.

We may define a task as easy or difficult, but when we are talking about what the Lord can do, those terms are absurd. There is nothing too hard for God, no mountain too big for Him to move. He declares in Jeremiah 32:27: “Behold, I am the Lord, the God of all flesh. Is there anything too hard for Me?” The Spirit can move that mountain for you. We need only to ask Him; don’t give up.

Great Things He Has Done

Secondly, when we let the Holy Spirit do the work, we can be assured that it will get done. The Holy Spirit chose Zerubbabel to finish the Temple. The Lord promised Zerubbabel: “The hands of Zerubbabel have laid the foundation of this temple; his hands shall also finish it” (Zechariah 4:9a). When the Lord accomplishes His desires, great success always results: Lives are changed, souls saved. Then all we can say is, “To God be the glory; great things He has done!”

You may be struggling today and feeling: Lord, I just can’t do it. I don’t have the energy, the ability, or even the desire. Ask the Lord to help you realize that He is able to do exceedingly abundantly beyond all you could ever ask. Confess that it isn’t by your might or your power, but by His Spirit, that it can be done. Turn over your mountains of difficulties to Him and let Him do for you what you cannot do for yourself.

Now to Him who is able to do exceedingly abundantly above all that we ask or think, according to the power that works in us, to Him be glory in the church by Christ Jesus to all generations, forever and ever. Amen. Ephesians 3:20-21


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