Saturday, 24 November 2012

So Called Love

There has been this song stuck in my head lately.  Just can’t shake it.  It’s a short Mercy Me song which goes like this......
"I can be there for you when it can't get much harder, I can cover your head when life starts to rain, I can hold on tight when you feel like you're falling, I can bread crumb the path when you've lost your way, I can make you laugh when the whole world is crying, I can build you up when you're broken in shame, But if all that we do is absent of Jesus, then this so called love is completely in vain..."
And it’s been heavy on my heart, this serving in vain.  All the good things we can do to help others, the sacrificial giving of ourselves; here, abroad, there is certainly no shortage of opportunities to help someone.  And I think most of us who call ourselves ‘Christian’ do plenty of this helping of others.  I do.  I think.

I have a confession to make.  I have done a lot of ‘helping’ with my mouth shut; serving in hopes that my actions will be my witness.  I have also avoided serving, helping, visiting, or whatever it may be, because there are other things to do, you know; I’m tired today, don’t have time, have to be here or there, and honestly, I already did this thing today, and my family needs me right now and besides, I don’t know them that well.

Being Nov. 24th, I decided to read Prov. 24.  It ended with a surprise and an “ouch”.  Let me read it to you.
“I went by the field of the lazy man, and by the vineyard of the man devoid of understanding; and there it was, all overgrown with thorns; Its surface was covered with nettles; Its stone wall was broken down. When I saw it, I considered it well; I looked on it and received instruction:  A little sleep, a little slumber, a little folding of the hands to rest; so shall your poverty come upon you like a prowler, and your need like an armed man.”  Prov. 24:30-34

 I’ve read it many times before.  Thought it was talking about a lazy man.  Didn’t think I was a lazy man.  Kept on going.
Today, however, with the harvest on my mind as of late (ahem, conviction) the words “field” and “vineyard” held significance, (ok, conviction).  The result of “a little sleep, a little slumber” was a field overgrown with thorns.  In his parable of the sower, Jesus used thorns to illustrate the cares, riches, and pleasures of this world – a little doing of this, a little doing of that.
I remember a few years back I used to have a vegetable garden.  During the first year, I had the ground plowed, tilled, fertilized.  I then meticulously laid out the rows, tenderly planted, and diligently tended it.  I was so keen – so much enthusiasm and the hard work was rewarding and filled me with joy in my work which kept me persevering.   Weeds or pests were quickly dealt with so as not to interfere with the growth of the harvest.  I remember being so excited to see the earth bring forth fresh fruit for our table, and a great harvest it was for a first time try at gardening. 

The following year, diligence began to wane.  The kids were at an age which demanded more of my attention.  There seemed like there was more to do, places to go, and though a garden was planted and tended to, it was with less enthusiasm, less effort, less diligence, more burden.  I managed to bat away at the weeds away enough that season to get a small harvest for our table, but it certainly wasn’t like the first year.
In the third year, once again the garden was planted and tended to at the beginning of the season.  But time became a valuable resource and many things vied for it.  Then we went on vacation for a full week.  Upon our return, I was dismayed to find the garden completely overgrown with a nameless but destructive weed.  It entirely swallowed up the plants which would have brought forth fruit.  
No harvest that year.  
Nor any year since then.  
A little doing of this, a little doing of that, a little less enthusiasm, led to distraction, avoidance, busy-ness, lack of joy and motivation which resulted in a garden of thorns; a garden unable to produce fruit.  
And I’m not just talking about my vegetable garden.  Something very similar has occurred in my tending to the great commission.
The Lord has placed each one of us where we are.  He has given us clear instructions about what it is we are to do with the field and vineyard we are in.  Let’s take an honest look at our field, ‘consider it well, look on it and receive instruction’.  How’s it looking?  
Mine needs a little work.  And it needs me to work with my mouth open.  To show the gospel, yes, but also to speak the gospel.  For how will they know if someone doesn’t tell them?  And if it isn’t done for the purpose of producing fruit for an eternal kingdom, in Jesus’ name, then ‘this so called love is completely in vain.’
Unless the Lord builds the house, they labor in vain who build it.” Ps 127:1




At 28 November 2012 at 18:39 , Blogger Christine said...

Thank you for sharing your heart. We all need to contemplate these truths.


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