Jump Start # 2583
Matthew 6:3 “But when you give to the poor, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing”
One of the things staying home during this epidemic has done is given many of us time to do household projects that we have put off for a long time. Spring cleaning took on a new look this year. Many have gone through closets, garages, attics, and basements and gotten rid of so many things that they have been holding on to for a long time.
I recently went through a bunch of pictures that were on the computer. It was time to transfer them and get them organized. It’s one thing to clean out a closet or go through old clothes that you no longer wear. But when you go through pictures, you just have to stop and look at them. And, oh the memories that they bring to your mind and heart.
There was a series of vacation pictures with the kids when they were little that I came across. Bright smiles, happy faces and wonderful times. As I looked at those little precious faces it occurred to me that they had no idea what all it took to pull off those vacations. There was the expense factor. There was packing. There was planning. There was traveling. There was taking care of things at home while we are gone. There was getting folks to fill in for me to preach and teach. The kids jumped in the car and didn’t have a clue what all we had done to make it possible. They simply enjoyed the trip.
That is not only true of family vacations, but it’s the very thing going on right now with shepherds of God’s church. Discussions are taking place about getting back to worship again. Boy, we are wanting that so bad. But, many do not realize all of the discussions, planning, thinking and talking that has gone on and continues to go on. We just can’t open the doors and expect things to be just as they were. How are we going to handle the Lord’s Supper? Do we have to sit every other pew? What about bathrooms and nurseries? What about classes? How do we keep everyone safe and how do we focus upon the Lord?
Our verse today, taken from the sermon on the mount is about giving. Don’t let one hand know what the other is doing. Physically, that isn’t possible. But spiritually, Jesus is saying do good and don’t tell others. Just do it. Don’t be bragging. Don’t expect a shout out. Don’t toot your own horn. Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing.
Now, I thought of this passage, beyond the scope of giving, but what goes on among leaders that most never think about. I know for our congregation, the leaders have had so many conference calls, often more than one a week. We can’t just open the doors and tell people, “Come.” There are so many things to think about. There are so many things to plug the deacons in with. And, what goes on behind the scenes are the kind of things that goes on all the time. The right hand and the left hand are not aware of this. Often, by the time we hear of something, the shepherds have already been talking about it and shaping plans of action. We see a family that is no longer attending. We wonder, “Why don’t the elders do something?” They have. Long before we ever thought of this, they have been working on this. Here is someone whose marriage is falling apart. By the time you and I see how bad things are, we wonder, “why aren’t the elders doing something?” They have been. Many times for months and months, they have been doing things. The right hand simply did not know what the left hand did.
So here are some things you and I can do to help the shepherds.
First, pray for them. They are traveling down roads that none of us have ever been on before. It’s one thing to cancel one service because of snow. That’s pretty obvious. But what we are experiencing is hard. Some do not think services ought to be cancelled. Ever. Some do not think it’s right to take the Lord’s Supper at home. Then there is the concern for our older members, who are at the highest risk right now. What’s best for them? Then there is trying to keep us all moving the same direction. Then there is trying to communicate with the congregation. Then there is the concern about some who are hurting financially. There is a lot going through their minds and hearts. There are physical safety concerns. There are spiritual concerns. There are emotional concerns. Pray for these dear men. They are trying their best. Their decisions are based upon what’s best for us.
Second, be willing to understand and be a team player. What if health regulations only allow fifty to assemble at a time? Which fifty? Who decides? How do they decide? How do we not hurt feelings? There will be times for the call for volunteers to help out. Don’t be a stick in the mud. Do what you can. Look among your resources and offer to share things to them.
Third, hold back on your complaints. This isn’t easy. Imagine being in their shoes right now. There is nothing to fall back on as examples to follow. There are so many things to think about, from the size of class rooms, young babies, older members, how to do things, even such as opening doors. And, everyone is a great arm chair quarterback and backseat driver. There may be adjustments that they have to make. There may be a few things that they try, but then have to stop because it’s not the best way of doing things. You and I are sitting anxiously in our homes and just want to get back to the church building and everything be just the way it was. So many things have to be done. And, when one hand doesn’t know what the other hand is doing, it’s easy to shoot our mouths off and say things that shouldn’t be said. We see the world from our perspective and forget about other aspects. They are trying to think of everything and everyone. They are trying to anticipate every scenario. They are thinking of things we’d never think about. Be patient with the shepherds.
Fourth, this ought to push our esteem and appreciation for the shepherds to the highest level. We preachers just preach. We can focus upon text and all we have to worry about is cameras and recording. The shepherds have all these other things to consider. They want us to be healthy, safe and walking with the Lord. Have you taken the time to thank your shepherds? They are doing so much that you would never believe or understand. Drop them a note. Send them a text. Instead of complaining to them, how about letting them know that you love them and that they have your support? How about offering your time if there is anything that you can do?
For congregations that are not led by wonderful shepherds, these are indeed dark times. Who will make all these decisions? Will anyone? Updates, open communication and keeping in touch is vital and powerful shepherds know that. Before too long, we will walk back into that church building. And, as you do that day, realize hours and hours and hours of planning, cleaning, prayers and making the tough call has been made.
One hand often doesn’t know what the other hand is doing. Be thankful that great men are at the helm through this storm. We’ll make it safely through, thanks to the Lord and the wonderful guidance of godly shepherds.
Personally, I extend my heart and thankfulness to Bill, Larry, Lee, Brent, Danny and Jim. You guys are keeping us safe and strong. You are my heroes!