Jump Start # 2901
Galatians 6:10 “So then, while we have opportunity, let us do good to all men, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
It is a question that I have been asked. My sweet dad even asked me this before he passed away. And, I never really knew how to answer it. Here is a Christian advanced in age, limited with what they can do, and they want to go on and be with the Lord. They believe. But, they remain. Another day. Another week. Another month. Another year. More than once I have been asked, “Why doesn’t the Lord just take me? I’m ready to go.” The only thing I could ever think to say was, “The Lord is not through with you yet.” Many sit in a nursing or assisted living home. The TV blares loudly through another game show. And, there they lay or sit. Why doesn’t the Lord take them?
Recently, a new answer was given to me. Something I never considered. It came from my preaching friend Jim Deason. Jim was one of our summer speakers this year. Our theme is that wonderful old hymn, “How firm a foundation.” Jim’s lesson, taken from that hymn, was thru fiery trials. It was a powerful lesson about suffering and trials. It’s on our website. It’s very, very helpful.
Jim raised this very thought at the end of his lesson. Why do some hang on when they are ready to go? Why doesn’t the Lord take them? His answer, so that you and I could have opportunities to serve. One of the benefits through suffering is the blessing of being able to serve others. What a great thought!
Within the personal family, taking care of an aged saint sometimes can seem burdensome to us. We have to adjust our schedule, run errands, take care of their bills, doctor appointments, and so many, many things. We sigh. We get weary. But what is all of that doing for us? It takes the attention off of us and we become servants, as the Lord wants us to. When we do this well, it humbles us and helps us to remember what is really important. When we don’t do this well, we complain, get mean, and it become a burden, rather than a blessing.
Our verse today is about serving. Doing good, the apostle says to everyone, especially those who are believers. We are to do this as we have opportunity. These opportunities often do not come at a convenient time. We are busy people and rarely do we find an afternoon in which we have nothing to do. There is always things to do. Things around the house. Things in the yard. The car. The pets. Banking. So many things to do. Who has time to go sit with grandma for a couple of hours? Who has time to run her to the doctor? Who has time to go through her checkbook and get everything straightened out?
You’ll notice our passage does not begin with, “Whosoever has the time.” No, it says as we have opportunity. Now, we can justify what we do by saying, I just don’t have the opportunity now. I’m way too busy. That will curve the guilt, but grandma still needs you. And, in the back of your mind you wonder how you would feel if you were that person laying in a nursing home bed and no one seemed to have the time for you.
Opportunities are there just about every day. Opportunities to pray for others. Opportunities to do something good for someone. Opportunities to share God’s word. Opportunities to make a difference. The funny thing about opportunities is that they are like a door. Sooner or later it closes and those chances to serve are gone. Grandma passes away. The person who had surgery is now back to work. The person who wanted to talk, now doesn’t want to. Doors close. Opportunities go away.
But beyond grandma, there are daily opportunities at work and among the church family. People need you. God wants you to serve. Can you do it? Will you do it?
What I have seen with some is that:
First, they will tell others about opportunities while they themselves do little. “Someone,” it is said, “needs to visit that new member.” And, typically what is meant is, YOU need to see that new member. Don’t tell others until you have first done what you could.
Second, others do not need to know about what you do. The need often is so involved that others can help, but don’t toot your own horn. Serve. Don’t let the left hand know what the right hand is doing. Do what you can.
Third, serve with joy. Yes, serving is tiring, messes with your schedule and can often even be thankless. But don’t ruin the good you are doing by being crabby. The Corinthians were reminded that serving without love really defeats the purpose. Brighten someone’s day by being kind, helpful and thoughtful. Don’t bring rain clouds of gloom and doom. Don’t make them feel bothered by bothering you.
Fourth, we do this, because Jesus first served. We are to follow His example. Helping others points the way to Christ. It can lead to greater opportunities to teach the Gospel.
Why am I still here? It may not be for their sake, but our sake. The Lord may be giving us the opportunity to serve. Don’t be like the rich man who ignored poor Lazarus, sick at his gates. He let opportunity slip through his hands. Not only did he ignore Lazarus and not help him, but his selfishness cost him his soul. He should have brought Lazarus in. He should have fed Lazarus. He could have called his doctor to see after Lazarus. With a little help, maybe Lazarus could have lived longer and maybe, just maybe, that sour, selfish spirit of the rich man could have become kind and receptive to the Lord.
Why am I here…so I can help you! Great thought, my friend. Thanks for preaching that!