by Steven Chan
10 January 2010
As we start the New Year, it is perhaps good for us to remind ourselves to remain focused on Jesus and His Work and not allow ourselves to be distracted by many things.
In Luke 10:41-42 in reply to Martha’s complaint that her sister, Mary had chosen to sit at the feet of Jesus to listen to His teachings and leaving her to carry out the work of serving the guests in her house, “the Lord answered and said unto her, Martha, Martha, thou art anxious and troubled about many things: but one thing is needful: for Mary hath chosen the good part, which shall not be taken away from her.”
In 2010, there are may things that can cause us to be anxious and troubled (whether work/study commitments or job/business uncertainties or financial/health challenges, etc) – all of which may be real and pressing but according to Jesus, “we need to choose” (as we cannot possibly do everything at the same time) – and we need to “choose the good part”. According to our Lord, Mary had chosen the good part—by seeking first the Lord & His Kingdom and His Righteousness (Matt. 6:33).
Let’s not forget the account of the rich businessman who failed to choose to be rich towards God (Luke 12:15-21) and failed to heed the warning of the Lord who asked rhetorically in Mark 8:36-37: “For what shall it profit a man, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” Oftentimes, this last reflection only occurs to those who sense that their sojourn on earth is about to be over—and then only to regret that they had missed the opportunity to choose the good part!
As we do the work of God, there will be those who would discourage us and try to stop or distract us from following through with what we may have started. As Nehemiah and the Jews sought to re-build the walls of Jerusalem, the discouragers shouted out: “What are these feeble Jews doing? Will they fortify themselves?” (Neh 4:2) – implying that their work is too great for them and that they did not have the abilities and capacities to complete the task at hand.
The work of winning souls for Christ, molding & shaping the lives of the young Sunday School children to be aligned with the will of God, of helping those young in faith or weak in faith to grow spiritually, lending a hand to help those facing various daunting challenges in their lives so that they can be strengthened by God’s grace—all these and more aer indeed work which may demand a lot from each of us—but will we give in to the self perception or externally imposed perception of our supposed feebleness or weakness so that we give up even before we start or half way through when we should be pressing onwards?
During Nehemiah’s time, some even said: “Even that which they build, if a fox go up, he shall even break down their stone wall.” (Neh 4:3). When we do God’s work, there will always be some who will say that what we are doing is “not good enough” or is a waste of effort or it will not work! As one evangelist reportedly replied to one who told him that she did not agree with his way of trying to win the lost, he said: “It’s ok, you do what you believe will work for you while I will do what I can for the Lord”. As the apostle Paul wrote in I Cor 9:22: “I am become all things to all men that I may by all means save some”. Brethren, “by all means” – whichever method that you may prefer or have available at your disposal—use it to “save some”. There is no one perfect method of reaching out to the lost—let’s not wait for the perfect method of approaching or studying with the lost. The message of course should not be changed—the gospel is the power of God unto salvation (Rom 1:16); we are to preach the Word (2 Tim 4:2). Some of us try to be perfectionists in that we want to have the perfect time and the perfect situation/condition before we can start to serve the Lord perfectly!
Brethren, there is no more convenient or perfect time than NOW to start serving the Lord: “And working together with him we entreat also that ye receive not the grace of God in vain (for he saith, At an acceptable time I hearkened unto thee, And in a day of salvation did I succor thee: behold, now is the acceptable time; behold, now is the day of salvation).” (2 Cor 6:1-2). The Bible warns in Jas 4:13-14: “Come now, ye that say, To-day or to-morrow we will go into this city, and spend a year there, and trade, and get gain: whereas ye know not what shall be on the morrow. What is your life? For ye are a vapor that appeareth for a little time and then vanisheth away.” Prov. 27:1: “Boast not thyself of tomorrow; For thou knowest not what a day may bring forth.” We will not have all the time to wait for the perfect time to start serving the Lord. Now is the time for our service to the Lord.
The Jews during Nehemiah’s time chose to pray to God in the face of the attempt to discourage them from their work: “Hear, O our God; for we are despised …” (Neh 4:4) but they did not cease from continuing with their work. They refused to be distracted from their work.
Most importantly, they completed their work because they had a mind to work: “So we built the wall; and all the wall was joined together unto half the height thereof: for the people had a mind to work.” (Neh 4:6). Do we have the mind to work for God? Or we going to be content to be spectators and commentators of the work that others are attempting to do for God?
God needs workers in His vineyard TODAY for there’s much work to be done and that the labourers or workers are few! The availability of workers seems to be the same relative to the work that we are to do. Jesus said in Matt 9:37-38: “The harvest indeed is plenteous, but the laborers are few. Pray ye therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he send forth laborers into his harvest.” Will you be one of those who would respond like Isaiah when he “heard the voice of the Lord, saying. Whom shall I send, and who will go for us? Then I said, Here am I; send me.” (Isa 6:8)
May the Lord help us all to be faithful and fruitful in our service to Him in 2010.