Faithfulness & Priorities
“The Master said, Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful in a few things, you
will be in charge of many. Come and share the Master’s happiness!” - Matthew 25:23
“One person plus God equals a majority,” is what an old prayer warrior told her newly adopted “son in the Lord.” Her remark was in response to the feelings he had that he was alone on his spiritual walk. This point hit home as I sat with a young Associate Minister of a large church (almost 600 members) from the northern part of the state. He shared his experience at another much smaller church’s Session, this church having only a membership of forty. The financial realities of a typical small church astounded him as he quickly grasped their concerns. He confessed that what he considered “simple issues”, such as paying the heating bill in the winter, was a challenge for that “small church.” These were things he never even thought about at his large church. Yet, faithfully and prayerfully, that small congregation looked to God for the help, support and guidance.
As we have previously discussed, Jesus gave many teachings about the establishment of proper perspectives concerning life’s priorities. What are our priorities? That is a question that many wrestle with. Too often, God is last and everything else comes first. This shouldn’t be. Our priorities towards serving God, and each other, should not be on the bottom of our “to do” lists after we have completed everything else. Make no mistake, Jesus strongly warns us against this. Why? It has less to do with a punitive response by God, but instead draws attention to the tendency of complacency that “creeps” in and nullifies our priority towards God. Where we place our trust, what we invest in now, determines our future. Not that our works justify us, but they are an expression of what we value and who we serve.
How do we become faithful and establish the correct priorities? Most fans of NCAA basketball remember Coach Johnny Wooden from UCLA. At the start of each season, he would give the entire team a tutorial on how to properly put on their socks! The reason? It was not that Wooden was an expert in socks, but that a sock that was properly applied prevented blisters and other foot related problems. It was an example of paying attention to and being faithful in the little things.
We need the same perspective when it comes to our spirituality. Is it the correct perspective to assume that the church cannot do much to change the world if it lacks size, wealth, or influence? God often works through the little things, then bestows the blessing of greater things. Much of what God does is contingent on us! What is our response to this? Are we faithful in the little things? Consider the pastor’s perspective from the pulpit: the church is filled for a social event, yet the pews are not full for Sunday worship. Having recently had a well-attended celebration in the beginning of September at our Sunday Worship, leads to the question of why aren’t we celebrating salvation and grace every Sunday in church? Is church worship a priority, or is it something we do or don’t do on Sunday, depending on what else is going on at the time?
I raise these questions, not to condemn, but in response to my own conviction by the Holy Spirit. It was a call to develop and step up my personal prayer time and commitment with the Lord. This is an area where I have struggled; I have felt my prayer life has been deficient. But as I sought out examples of effective prayer and employed them, I increased my prayer time with real, kingdom oriented prayer.
One resource I would recommend was Martin Luther’s little book, “A Simple Way to Pray,” written for his barber! From this simple book, I found the “obligation” of prayer time I once felt, seemed to vanish into an enjoyable time spent with the Lord. Is prayer and Bible study part of your spiritual discipline? Do you realize God wants that relationship with you?
The decisions we make regarding our service to God will have huge repercussions. The question at hand is accountability. In Timothy, Paul reminds us that one of scripture’s functions is to hold us accountable. “All scripture is God breathed, and is useful for teaching, rebuking, correcting and training in righteousness so that the servant of God may be thoroughly equipped.” I believe scripture has called me into account and is calling us all into account. At Sunday School, some one commented, “We are small, but mighty!” While that may be true, what does it say about our priorities? This is an individual mandate between you and God. If we don’t invest in the right priorities, how will we be effective in proclaiming the Good News? These are hard questions scripture asks all of us, but did you consider the wonder of God’s blessing, if we seek him first?
My prayer for you is that all of you will grow in love, trust and knowledge of the Living God.
Yours in Christ,