Jump Starts Daily

Jump Start #3520

Jump Start # 3520

Galatians 4:11 “I fear for you, that perhaps I have labored over you in vain.”

  The words of the apostle in our verse today are the very things that are often wondered by many today. The Galatians were not strong in their faith. They were struggling and many failing. The letter opens with Paul’s amazement that so many had already deserted for a twisted and false form of the Gospel. Paul had preached, worked hard and taught and taught them. But it didn’t stick with many of them. And, when that happens, the honest heart begins to wonder, “Is it me?” “Was it the way I taught?” “Could I have done something differently?” “ Has all of this been a waste of time?”

  This is not solely a religious dilemma. School teaches face this. Is anyone paying attention? Am I making any difference? Parents often face this. Is anyone listening? Am I getting through to them?

· Phillips words this as: you stagger me, you make me wonder if all my efforts over you have been wasted

· CEB: I’m afraid for you! Perhaps my hard work for you has been for nothing.

· Peterson: I am afraid that all my hard work among you has gone up in a puff of smoke!

  Feeling like you are wasting your time quickly drains the energy out of the heart of the one teaching. Blank stares. No one following along. Questions asked that were answered in the last class. Have I labored over you in vain?

  It is that feeling that makes a preacher begin to wonder if it’s time to move on. Maybe someone else would be more effective. Maybe a fresh and different voice would help the people. Not connecting, not making a difference is the tell-tell sign for most preachers to hit the road and move out of Dodge. I have felt that way. Most preachers have. Another sermon. Another class. Another article. And, one wonders, is it doing any good? Am I wasting time?

  Here are a few thoughts:

  First, teaching God’s word, whether in the home or the church building is never a waste of time. There comes a responsibility upon the student to take the initiative and come with a heart to learn. Bored people are just that, bored people. Some want to be done with “church” as fast as they can so they can go on and do what they want to do. Such an attitude and such a spirit wearies the Lord and the righteous. It’s that same attitude that will fail to grow, bear fruit for the kingdom and struggle with the same questions over and over.

  Keep teaching, preacher. Keep explaining Mom and Dad. Your hope is that one day those lessons will sink deep into their little hearts and it will make a difference. The alternative is to throw up your hands and give up. And, then who will teach?

  Second, keep learning how to teach. Maybe your methods are stale. Maybe your questions are so obvious that they do not challenge. Maybe you need a fresh coat of paint on the way you teach. Look at others. Learn from others. Try different methods. As you grow more, you’ll find different ways to connect better with the ones you are trying to teach.

  Third, it helps giving some feed back to the teacher. An honest question. A “thank you.” A “I hadn’t thought about that before.” Taking notes. Telling the teacher, “I really like this class.” Sharing what you learned with others. All of that is helpful. When mama cooks dinner, she likes to hear once in a while, “Thank you,” or, “I really like that.” Feedback is important. So many places that we do business with these days, will send email surveys wanting to know how they did. They are looking for feedback.

  And, when the last Amen is said, and the conversations quickly turn to the ballgame, the teacher wonders, “Have I labored in vain?” “Did anything stick?” But to see people still sitting in the pew, with Bibles opened and talking to one another, what a rich and rewarding picture that is.

  The Galatian problem wasn’t the teacher. It wasn’t the subject being taught. It was the hearts and shallow faith of the Galatian people. Was Paul’s efforts a waste of time? Today we have that letter to the Galatians in our Bibles. It is that letter that warns of the works of the flesh. It is that letter that details the fruit of the Spirit. It is that letter that shows that we are all one in Christ. Thousands of years later, the efforts of that lone apostle is still touching hearts, teaching souls and making a difference in our lives.

  And, in a much smaller scale, the same is true among our efforts. I have run into people decades after I have preached a lesson and they will show me a notecard that they kept in their Bible, or quote some statement that I have long forgotten, but they never did. The same impact is true in parenting. My mom has been gone for more than twenty-five years, but even today, there are things she said, that I remember. She may have and probably did wonder if anything she said got through my thick head, but it did and I remember.

  So, mom and dad, Bible class teacher, preacher, keep plugging away. Stay at it. Don’t give up. You may plant seeds today that you will never see grow, but in time, those little seeds can produce mighty oaks.

  It’s never a waste of time to teach God’s word. To answer Paul’s question, “Have I labored in vain,” NO. No you haven’t. What you did is still making a difference today!