The seventy-two returned with joy, saying, “Lord, even the demons are subject to us in your name!” And he said to them, “I saw Satan fall like lightning from heaven. Behold, I have given you authority to tread on serpents and scorpions, and over all the power of the enemy, and nothing shall hurt you. Nevertheless, do not rejoice in this, that the spirits are subject to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven.” (Luke 10:17-20)
The Jesus works and the Jesus words performed and preached and taught by the seventy-two have Jesus results. The seventy-two are absolutely astonished at what takes place among the Samaritans--"surprised by joy." This is heady stuff. Jesus confirms their excitement: He "sees Satan fall from heaven like a flash of lightning," joins them in rejoicing "in the Holy Spirit," and thanks the "Father, Lord of heaven and earth" for the harvest. "Rejoice" (agalliao), the verb that powers Jesus' confirming words, conveys an exuberance we see expressed in dance and cartwheels. And in Samaria of all places!
But he also introduces a word of caution: "Do not rejoice at this, that spirits submit to you, but rejoice that your names are written in heaven" (Luke 10:20). There is danger that we will become overly excited at what we see going on around us and neglect the center, our heaven-inscribed identities, out of which the work develops. Not what we do, but who we are "in heaven," anchors the joy. (Tell It Slant by Eugene Peterson)
A great reminder as we begin a new year of ministry, from the very lips of Jesus himself. May the work we do never take precedence in our hearts over who we are in Christ. Rejoice not in what you do, rather rejoice in whose you are.