Years ago, I came across an article addressing the successful individual and group projects. The author points out three points of success in any undertaking:
- A knowledge of the situation.
- The proper attitude.
- A willingness to be involved.
As congregations, we may take our building for granted. We may take our brothers and sisters for granted. We may take growth for granted, but we’ve all seen congregations that have dwindled over time until they no longer exist. Taking things for granted never leads to success.
The Challenge of Involvement
In Joshua 24:14, Joshua challenges the people of Israel to choose whom they will serve – whether Jehovah God or those idols they left behind in Egypt or have seen in the other nations. We know the people begin strong, but they begin to take God’s promises for granted. They take their faith for granted. They begin to take their homes for granted. They grow lax, and the spiritual integrity of Israel begins to decay. They fail to retain knowledge, lose their spiritual attitudes, and they cease involving themselves in God’s work. Subsequently, they lose all those things they take for granted.
Involved In God’s Work
A godly congregation is a family, and, as a family, we are diverse; we have different ways to contribute; we have some different opinions; we have different personalities. We can see this family unity in many small ways throughout scripture. Romans 16:1 singles Phoebe out as a helper of many. I Corinthians 16:15-18 acknowledges three individuals helpful to Paul, and Paul specifically points out the dedication demonstrated by Stephanas’ family. In II Timothy 1:16-17, Paul expresses gratitude toward Onesiphorus for his encouragement. Finally, Acts 9:39-40 shows the love people of Joppa had for a woman named Tabitha for her charity and good deeds. These individuals may not be surrounded by great events, but they make a difference in God’s work because of their knowledge of those around them, their attitude, and their willingness to get involved.
These are those we are supposed to be most like. These are the lives we should be emulating. We should make ourselves aware of situations and opportunities around us. We should look on those opportunities with a willing and humble attitude, and we need to be willing to get involved. We should not fall into habits of self-centeredness and selfishness as King Saul does as his reign progresses. Our eyes should be looking outward to the fields around us, seeking those opportunities before us, and demonstrating God’s mercy and love in our involvement. In Luke 15, Jesus asks His listeners who would not take the opportunity to rescue one of their own flock, one of their own possessions. We should be so concerned about those lost in God’s flock.
In Luke 14, Jesus asks a series of rhetorical question to those around Him – questions aimed at making those think about their level of commitment in their self-interests, in the tasks they undertake. He asks them about counting the cost of their commitment, about the effort they are willing to expend, about their willingness to keep pushing forward instead of looking back. We can take those examples of Phoebe, of Stephanas, of Onesiphorus, and of Tabitha and see the ways we can encourage others in Christ. We know the situations and opportunities we face. Our choices comes down to the attitude with which we face these opportunities and our willingness to involve ourselves in God’s work. Instead of looking after our own wants and self-interests, we can prioritize others’ needs and God’s interests, serving as a light in the lives of those around us.
lesson by Tim Smelser