Loafs and Fishes
Yesterday Nathan got up about 75 bales of hay, and just in time because the Lord Jesus blessed us with a nice steady rain shower last night. The apostle Paul once said that the hard-working farmer ought to have the first share of the crops, but I’m sure this hay will be sold, and for a good, but fair, price. And all because of the goodness of God – and the diligence of Nathan. No wonder Paul saw the ideal Christian as a hard-working farmer.
Speaking of the farm, I don’t fish myself, but we’ve stocked the pond with plenty of bass, and visitors to Bradford Hall get a fair catch whenever they cast out their lines. I suppose we’ve all heard lots of fishing jokes, but one of my favorites has a little boy saying, when asked what his favorite part of the Bible was, “The part where everybody loafs and fishes.” The wider application, of course, is to our churches, where so many of us owe so much to so few (apologies to Sir Winston). I wonder: How can we stand idly by when there’s a world to be won and so many needs to be met?
We say we are too busy waiting for the Lord Jesus to return to get our hands dirty in worldly affairs. But clearly the best way to look forward to His coming is by quietly and diligently doing our duty in our daily jobs and ministries. This indeed is one of the great truths of Paul’s Thessalonian correspondence: while we are waiting for the Second Coming we are to mind our own business and go on working with our hands. The certainty of Christ’s return is no excuse for laziness. In fact, one of the best demonstrations of genuine Christianity is that it produces workers not spongers, tradesmen not truants. The lazy Christian has no right to sit down to dinner, said Paul, and he was right!
Friend, it is our Christian duty to work hard so as not to be a financial burden on others and so that we may help those who cannot be as independent as we are through no fault of their own. If we refuse to work, we should not eat, says Paul. Can we not apply this principle to the work of the church? Why should 10 percent of the congregation do 100 percent of the ministry? The Christian ethic is an ethic of mutual service, in which the obligation to serve falls on every believer. No Christian is without his or her responsibility in this regard.
Loafing and fishing is a poor substitute for joyful duty and pleasant obligation!
May 3, 2007
David Alan Black is the editor of www.daveblackonline.com.