IN WORD AND DEED 9-17-17
IN WORD AND DEED
September 17, 2017
Many people think that by sitting in a pew on Sunday mornings, and maybe throwing a few dollars into the collection plate, they are being faithful Christians, and their ‘good deed’ for the week of that one hour spent in the church proves their faith. After all, there are so many people that only go to church occasionally, or not at all. And they are sacrificing an extra hour or two of sleep on their day off of work. Or possibly even forgoing a fun trip or activity they could have been doing instead. Surely such sacrifice will be well-rewarded by God.
On that note, I would like to share with you a parable that Jesus told to the Pharisees, who also thought that they were being exemplary in their faith. This is from Matthew 21:28-32. “But what do you think about this? A man with two sons told the older boy, ‘Son, go out and work in the vineyard today.’ The son answered, ‘No, I won’t go,’ but later he changed his mind and went anyway. Then the father told the other son, ‘You go,’ and he said, ‘Yes, sir, I will.’ But he didn’t go. “Which of the two obeyed his father?” They replied, “The first.” Then Jesus explained his meaning: “I tell you the truth, corrupt tax collectors and prostitutes will get into the Kingdom of God before you do. For John the Baptist came and showed you the right way to live, but you didn’t believe him, while tax collectors and prostitutes did. And even when you saw this happening, you refused to believe him and repent of your sins.”
We are called to not just sit and listen to the Word of God, but to follow His command to go out and work in the vineyard, or the harvest field. We are called to not just be hearers only, but doers of the Word (James 1:22).
And so, as we enter into harvest season, just imagine what it would be like if the farmers had never planted seeds in the field. God would have sent His rain on barren ground, and nothing would have sprung up. There would be no corn, no soybeans, no wheat. There might be plenty of weeds, but no usable crops.
Those who labor to spread the good news of the Gospel are like the farmers in the Springtime. They plant the seeds of faith. People often believe that is only the job of the pastor, or the Sunday School teachers, or the missionaries. And it is their job. But it is also the job of each and every Christian. You don’t have to stand on a street corner and preach. We all come across people on a daily basis who do not know the Lord, who do not know His saving grace, and His love for those others have forgotten, or even despise. Anyone who has been redeemed by Christ has a personal testimony to share. But even if you aren’t good at approaching people, or verbally telling them the good news of the Gospel, you can leave a note or booklet with someone, you can spread the Word on social media, or at the very least support an outreach ministry of the church.
Once the seeds are planted, there is still work to be done. Farmers rely on pesticides and herbicides to keep the growing crops healthy, and irrigate the fields if there is a dry season. We need to nurture young Christians, and to steer them away from the things that will work to destroy their faith. We need to pray for them that God would rain down the Holy Spirit upon them and they would soak up His living water. And again, this is not just an activity by one or two people within the church. It is the responsibility of everyone that is a member of the Body of Christ. Remember, what young Christians see us doing, is what they will think they should be doing. Not what we talk about doing, but what we actually do. What sort of example are we setting?
And what about older Christians? If we just leave them sit in the field, they will wither and die. Mature Christians, as the fruit of the labor of those who went before us, are not just called to sit in the field, or even in the barn, and rot. They are to feed the growth of the church! Their faith has not been planted in the Spring of their lives, and nurtured through their Summer, just to be forgotten. Their knowledge, their wisdom, and their faith that has endured through countless trials, is not only an asset to the church, it is vital! How silly it would be for a farmer to leave corn to rot on the stalk, and just as foolish for us to forget those who have brought us this far, and not utilize all they have to offer.
So whether you are nine, nineteen, or ninety – a new Christian or one whose faith has stood the test of time – there is something that the Lord wants you to do. Whether it is to plant the seed, nurture the crop, or bring in the harvest, the Lord is calling you into service.
If we, as a church, do not plant new seeds, do not nurture the growing plants, and do not harvest and utilize the crop, our church will eventually become a barren field. So tell someone what Jesus has done for you. Invite a friend to church. Teach the children. Volunteer your time and skills. Share your knowledge. Be a friend to someone who needs one. I know we have people here that do all of these and more. And I appreciate every one of you. But there are some that could do a bit more. Give a bit more. Love a bit more. Remember, one soul that comes to Christ because of you, one soul that has found meaning and purpose in their life because of you, one soul that was rescued from the pit of despair, or who got back on the right path in life, because of you, is worth infinitely more than every minute and every dollar than you put into it.
There is a saying that goes “no one can do everything, but everyone can do something”. I totally agree. The Lord will show you what your ‘something’ is, if you are willing. So don’t be like the younger son in the parable who told his father he would do his part in the field, but then didn’t do it. Be like the older son, who at first didn’t want to do his part, but then went and did it. Actions always speak louder than words. Amen.
God's Word planted a seed in me,
of faith in His only Son,
The Holy Spirit makes it grow,
until my life on earth is done.
My parents and my teachers,
and my church's pastor, too;
help keep the weeds and pests away,
so I honor God in all I do.