The seventy-two returned with joy and said, “Lord, even the demons submit to us in your name.”
[Jesus] replied… “I have given you authority… However, do not rejoice that the spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.”
Luke 10:17-20, NIV*
No wonder the disciples are pumped: their mission succeeded beyond their wildest dreams. That’s a good thing. And I don’t think Jesus is rebuking their excitement. I think He’s giving them perspective.
Oswald Chambers interprets Jesus’ words here as “Don’t rejoice in your successful service for Me, but rejoice because of your right relationship with Me.” (My Utmost for His Highest, August 30: “Usefulness or Relationship?)
I’ve been reading about the damage perfectionism does, how much harm comes from basing our worth on how well or poorly we perform, and what a widespread problem it is even among Christians. (The Search for Significance, by Robert S. McGee)
From that angle, I see this verse as an antidote I can use when I don’t meet my own (or others’) achievement standards.
Step one: seek God’s direction first, not my own or someone else’s arbitrary standard.
Step two: rely on God’s strength.
Step three: celebrate success, acknowledge and learn from failure. Ask God’s opinion.
Step four: know my value isn’t performance-based but redemption-based.
Mighty and righteous Creator God, all our righteousness is only filthy rags compared to Your perfection. We can’t earn Your love or approval. Thank You for Your grace that redeemed us and made us acceptable—adopted—valued. Help us truly believe this, at the deepest level. Help us find our worth in You.