“For though I am free from all, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win more of them” 1 Corinthians 9:19. In the movie version, based on the WWII story of conscientious objector Desmond Doss who saved 75 men on Hacksaw Ridge, the combat medic, exhausted and abandoned by his infantry company for dead, powerfully cries out, “Just one more, Lord.” Paul describes his preaching of the gospel that “necessity is laid upon me.” Are you similarly compelled? How often we sing, “I want to be a soul winner for Jesus every day …,” but do we mean it? Perhaps, we’ll speak with a lost person who happens to walk through the doors of the building on a Sunday morning or hand a tract about the church to a family from the neighborhood that attends a benevolence event. But every day? Paul’s compulsion made it so that everything he did “in word or deed” was done “in the name of the Lord Jesus.” Is what Christ has done for us through the gospel also convict us that we are “entrusted with a stewardship”? Does our necessity to evangelize also make us willing to “become all things to all people that by all means [we] might save some”? Do you want to be a soul winner for Jesus?
“But our citizenship is in heaven, and from it we await a Savior, the Lord Jesus Christ” Philippians 3:20. The Christian walk often feels like it’s done on a tightrope between two skyscrapers while the winds of the world try to blow us one way or the other. On the one side, we must not compromise with the culture that blasts us relentlessly to become like it. If we react too much to the wind, we risk leaning too much and stepping off the wire of His Word. This is the Christian who fixates on one issue to the loss of the whole counsel of God. Rather, we must be Christ in the culture by keeping our balance. Paul did so, inviting others to step where he and the faithful walked (v17). Then he warned of others whose feet seem to be on the wire—for now—but who are really unbalanced and will fall to their destruction (v18-19). Because our citizenship is in heaven, the world should not affect us. We must keep our feet moving ever forward on the wire, keeping our balance in the wind, and our eyes fixed ahead to the goal, who is our Savior, who has walked the tightrope before us. Is this difficult to do? Yes, but He will uphold you and transform you when you reach the end. Where truly is your citizenship?
“And he said to them, ‘The harvest is plentiful, but the laborers are few. Therefore, pray earnestly to the Lord of the harvest to send out laborers into his harvest. Go your way’” Luke 10:2-3. If we were honest, many would sing, “I want to be a worker for the Lord (as long as it’s not too hard and fits into my schedule); I want to love and trust His holy word (for an hour on Sunday) ….” We think of so many excuses to not work for God. How can we not “go” as Jesus told us to do (Matthew 28:18-20)? How often have you sat in the shade with a cold drink while seeing the few sweating in the harvest field? Oh, you’ve prayed earnestly that the Lord of the harvest would send more workers, all the while complaining to those out in the sun about how hot it is. I’m too … old, busy, tired, or sore, you cry out! I don’t know enough. Perhaps the song should go, “I want to sit in pews for the Lord …” while the harvest grows overripe and never gets to the Master’s barn. But, Jesus tells us to do more than pray. Praying is just where we start. Then you are sent to “go your way.” It may be only to give a thirsty man water (25:31-40), but you may have more to offer. Do you want to be a worker for the Lord?
“Therefore, if anyone is in Christ, he is a new creation. The old has passed away; behold, the new has come” 2 Corinthians 5:17. For me to get to acceptance in the grieving process after my wife passed last year, I had to keep a forward focus or get mired in memories. Married just out of college, for all of my adult life I knew only her. How does a person start anew when everything he attempts is absent the one he misses or triggers memories of her? Those who have been spiritually reborn experience the same struggle. Believing the old man of sin dead, he struggles to press on to the goal only to watch the corpse crawl back onto the altar. The key to being a new creation in Christ is “forgetting what lies behind,” and that means relegating the old life of sin to the past that it may not master us again. Then, “straining forward to what lies ahead,” we keep our focus forward … to what? That’s the struggle as what is in the past is more known than what we can’t yet see. The goal is “the prize of the upward call of God” found only “in Christ.” But, as a new creation, we are reconciled and made ambassadors for Christ with a ministry of reconciliation. What more do we need to press on?
“Only let us hold true to what we have attained” Philippians 3:16. When the handle is pulled back, the ratchet strap will hold taut and won’t release its tension until the lever on on the handle is tripped. Then the strap is useless for holding the load. The Lord’s church operates in much the same way. Perhaps it was a little need for rest that’s not promised to us in this life (Hebrews 4:1-7). It could be that some of the workers who held the tension went to their rest or were arranged by God someplace else where He wanted them to be (1 Corinthians 12:18). Maybe we were lulled to sleep by so much going so well for so long or mandatory isolation of the past year and a half threw us out of our routines that the lever was tripped and spiritual poverty put slack in the strap (Proverbs 6:10-11). We must all, but especially our leaders who motivate our members to action, awaken to the shifting load before it crashes. Complaining about the loose strap won’t help. Neither will reliving a time when the load was secure. Only by rolling up our sleeves and together pulling back on the handle, with whatever gifts God has given us, will the strap tighten and the load entrusted to us be safe once again. How are you pulling it back?