2010-06-15 - Building on Others' Work
Scrabble Devotional ~ Part 2
Another way that Scrabble is a metaphor for our Christian walk, is that our work often builds on others. You may have a full, exciting word sitting on your tray but unless it's the first word of the game, you have to find at least one letter from the word, and build upon that pre-existing word. You cant just start your own, as tempting as it is! And likewise, you may start with a small word, and someone else may make a supernova word from it, like a triple-scoring amendment from am, etc.
Likewise in the Christian life, as the Apostle Paul reminded us, sometimes one person sows, but another reaps. You may not ever witness the fruit of your hard work. Perhaps, for years, you have faithfully taught children in Sunday School, but it may be later, when the fruit is borne and perhaps a youth worker or family members who see the results of them living out what you helped plant in their hearts.
You may have helped to start a program, and you may be elsewhere, when it comes to its full bloom. In fact, someone else may even get credit for it. But the important thing is not who did it, in our human terms for (1) that shouldn't be our priority and (2) it's a moot concern anyway. For in actuality, GOD is the whodunit in these cases.
1 Corinthians 3:7-10 (NIV) 7 So neither he who plants nor he who waters is anything, but only God, who makes things grow. 8 The man who plants and the man who waters have one purpose, and each will be rewarded according to his own labor. 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, God's building. 10 By the grace God has given me, I laid a foundation as an expert builder, and someone else is building on it. But each one should be careful how he builds.
The important thing for us is to be faithful to whatever God has called us to do. If we have no matter the Results, no matter the numerical or financial results, no matter whether it continues at all - our work is SUCCESSFUL, in Gods terms.
I will give you a personal example. At a former church, my husband and I had the privilege and responsibility of leading the Outreach program for awhile. One of the programs we brought to the church was a new, international, fair trade* market wherein I personally selected every item (of hundreds) ordered, rather than getting the default items that another organization sent the same items year after year. We spent much time and put our hearts into this ministry, for a couple years, ordering, setting up, running the market etc. The congregation gave us effusive feedback, on how good it was to be able to buy unique and varying gifts for family and friends, and know that the proceeds would ALL benefit the workers who were laboring diligently to provide for their families. Many churches participate in this program nationally in the US, and it helps folks everywhere from haiti to Guatemala. But my successor deemed this ministry wasteful,
because (direct quote), it doesnt earn any money for the church. 100% of the proceeds went to the workers, just as it does for all the other churches who have the joy of working in this program. To us, Missions programs were not about earning money for the church, but rather helping Gods children in need, and when possible, enabling them to better their lives. We knew that even though in the new leaders eyes, it was a failure, that in Gods eyes, it was a success, because we had followed His leading, helped His people --and personally, simply because we were faithful to His calling for us.
Remember that whichever side of this equation you are on, i.e. even if you dont see the end results, even if you dont see big numbers, as long as you are faithful to Gods calling in YOUR life, thats what matters to Him. If you read the Old Testament, you will see that some of the prophets went through the same things few positive results seen in their lifetime. If you think about it, even the Apostle Paul didnt see all the results of His ministry. He didnt know, in his lifetime, of all the people who would be inspired by his life turnaround and build on his work. He didnt know how the letters that he penned would be used to strengthen hearts in 2010, or to start or strengthen ministries for thousands of years.
Our part in all this, is simply to do what God calls us to do no more, no less. Its really freeing, to realize we dont have responsibility for anyone elses work, nor for the results of the work. We can leave all that in Gods hands, and simply do our own thing, to borrow a phrase from the 1970s.
*Fair trade markets are those in which the goods are allegedly produced under humane conditions, with the workers receiving fair wages.