I think most of us that travel to help further the Gospel, whether it’s across the ocean or across the county, have it in our minds that we are going to do great things for God.
And we have to, otherwise we wouldn’t step out of our comfort zone to be used by God. But maybe you’re like me.
I get so excited about the possibilities that could happen while serving that I often forget that what I’m doing might not reap a harvest of saved souls while I’m around to see it. Is what I’m doing still important?
"I planted, Apollos watered, but God gave the growth. So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God who gives the growth. He who plants and he who waters are one, and each will receive his wages according to his labor. For we are God's fellow workers. You are God's field, God's building. According to the grace of God given to me, like a skilled master builder I laid a foundation, and someone else is building upon it. Let each one take care how he builds upon it. For no one can lay a foundation other than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ." - 1 Corinthians 3:6-11
What we're doing is absolutely important! As we look back on our lives we can remember key moments that moved us closer to Christ. I just need to remember that, and what I do today could lay the foundation for the start of someone else's spiritual journey.
The trouble is that I’m always looking for the big “God moments” and using those as a measurement of how well I’m doing as a Christian. After meditating on the above passage I’ve realized I’m wrong on two counts. First, I’m focused on myself and what I can do for the Kingdom. Once we start trying to accomplish Kingdom goals through our own efforts, strengths and desires, we have already lost. We’ve opened ourselves up to failure because, secondly, we need to remember Christ is the one to lay the foundation.
In 2 Corinthians 4:7 Paul says, “We have this treasure in jars of clay, to show that the surpassing power belongs to God and not to us.” It’s comforting to know that even Paul had to remind the believers in Corinth. He had to remind them to focus on Jesus and not to worry about someone else’s ministry. Remember Paul would say in verse one, “Having this ministry by the mercy of God, we do not lose heart.” I’m not naïve to think that if we all hold hands, all the troubles and heartache will be a thing of the past. Paul follows this train of thought as well, encouraging the believers in chapter 5:1, “For we know that if the tent that is our earthly home is destroyed, we have a building from God, a house not made with hands, eternal in the heavens.”
As we focus on the eternal, I am continually amazed by what God is doing through IDES partners, staff, volunteers, and donors. We each have a pivotal role to play in our fight against this dark world, full of disasters and people being hurt. As we each shine our light, partnering together, using the talents God has given us, we are unstoppable.
One of IDES' core values is Partnership. IDES helps by watering and fertilizing. Our global ministry partners pool their resources and talents for the tasks at hand. As an organization, we want to be ready to offer help and hope in crisis situations. But we can't all go, so some of us have to do other things to keep the work going. If we were all “goers” or all “senders,” we would be limited on the amount we could accomplish. It’s the same with IDES' valuable volunteers. Our volunteers’ tasks enable us to be ready for responding.
Disasters can take on many forms but the benefit is we get to have a wide range of opportunities to help. Our partners on the ground can lay the groundwork and provide the seed. When IDES comes along, we can add resources to help the seeds germinate and grow. The desired goal is that the hurting would find Christ and continue the seeding process.
The commentator Paul Butler said it better than I ever could: “Christian servants are equal; they are all servants. Each servant will receive his wages according to faithfulness. Servants do not receive wages according to amount produced, for producing is God’s doing. God gives the increase. The servant is responsible only to faithfully use the tools over which he has been given a stewardship. The Servant is not responsible for the amount of the crop.”
We are all gardeners working in God’s field as partners while He reaps the harvest. Are you ready to do your part?
-written by Randy Jones, Project Manager at IDES
-Author Paul T Butler Year published: 1985 Book title: Studies in First Corinthians City: Joplin, Mo. Publisher: College Press Pub. Co.