Tim Johnson, editor
February 6, 2011
Labor of Love
God's Way is Best
If mere men had authored the plan of salvation, arranged for it to be communicated to the world and established and organized the church, things would have turned out to be very different from what we read in the Bible. God doesn't do things like men do them. His ways are better. "'For My thoughts are not your thoughts, nor are your ways My ways,' says the LORD. 'For as the heavens are higher than the earth, so are My ways higher than your ways, And My thoughts than your thoughts' " (Isaiah 55:8-9).
This fact is well illustrated by the following satirical letter:
To: Jesus, Son of Joseph
Woodcrafter's Carpenter Shop
From: Jordan Management Consultants
Thank you for submitting the resumes of the twelve men you have picked for managerial positions in your new organization. All of them have now taken our battery of tests; and we have not only run the results through our computer, but also arranged personal interviews for each of them with our psychologist and vocational aptitude consultant.
The profiles of all tests are included, and you will want to study each of them carefully. As part of our service, we make some general comments for your guidance, much as an auditor will include some general statements. This is given as a result of staff consultation, and comes without any additional fee.
It is the staff opinion that most of your nominees are lacking in background, education and vocational aptitude for the type of enterprise you are undertaking. They do not have the team concept. We would recommend that you continue your search for persons of experience in managerial ability and proven capability.
Simon Peter is emotionally unstable and given to fits of temper. Andrew has absolutely no qualities of leadership. The two brothers, James and John, the sons of Zebedee, place personal interest above company loyalty. Thomas demonstrates a questioning attitude that would tend to undermine morale. We feel that it is our duty to tell you that Matthew had been blacklisted by the Greater Jerusalem Better Business Bureau; James, the son of Alphaeus, and Thaddaeus definitely have radical leanings, and they both registered a high score on the manic-depressive scale.
One of the candidates, however, shows great potential. He is a man of ability and resourcefulness, meets people well, has a keen business mind, and has contacts in high places. He is highly motivated, ambitious, and responsible. We recommend Judas Iscariot as your controller and right-hand man. All of the other profiles are self-explanatory.
We wish you every success in your new venture.
Jordan Management Consultants
(Tim Hansel, Eating Problems for Breakfast, Word Publishing, 1988, pp. 194-195)
We would all do well to remember that God did not use human consultants to determine how the world would be evangelized or the church organized and operated. Any and every effort of men to change God's way of doing these things is an affront to His wisdom and authority. Human schemes to increase church membership by offering the world social programs, food, recreation and entertainment were not part of God's plan. And, "Your faith should not be in the wisdom of men but in the power of God"! (1 Corinthians 2:5). Jesus hasn't called us to be consultants; He's called us to be followers!
-- Steve Klein
"Remembering without reusing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and father" (l Thessalonians 1:3).
IT IS SOMETIMES ASTONISHING TO SEE WHAT RESULTS COME FROM THE EFFORT OF THOSE WHO ARE POWERED BY LOVE. When Paul wrote to his Christian friends in Thessalonica, he was writing to people who had begun to suffer persecution as soon as they had become Christians. And yet, their love for their new Lord was such that they were not only surviving, but thriving. Paul was delighted to pray for them and give thanks for the good things that were coming from their love: "We are always thankful to God as we pray for you all, for we never forget that your faith has meant solid achievement, your love has meant hard work, and the hope that you have in our Lord Jesus Christ means sheer dogged endurance in the life that you live before God, the Father of us all" (J. B. Phillips's paraphrase of 1 Thessalonians 1:3). The work of these disciples was a work of FAITH, their labor was a labor of LOVE, and their patience was a patience of HOPE. These are the true springs from which the highest kind of effort and sacrifice always flow.
We need to bring genuine love for God more to the center of our own motivation. Yet, we must be careful. In the warm glow of our love for Him, we must not conceive of God as a doting grandfather, willing to accept anything our sincerity chooses to offer Him. Being moved by love does not mean being presumptuous. God is still God, and it is still His prerogative to say what is required from us. If the true worship of God comes from a spirit of love, it also comes from a respect for truth (John 4:23, 24).
Yet, as our reverence causes us to take God with utter SERIOUSNESS, how much difference it will make if our love causes us to seek Him with utter THANKFULNESSI Let us never trifle with our responsibilities, but also let us never forget the manifold goodnesses of God that have made us want to accept those responsibilities. When the final tally is made, our labor will matter little if it was not a labor of love. "for God has not given us a spirit of fear, but of power and of love and of a sound mind" (2 Timothy 1:7).
"Love is a far better sustainer than fear. Fear enslaves, but love persuades. Love takes possession of our soul, and we begin to want goodness for itself. God is a kind and faithful friend to those who sincerely become his friend" (Francois de Fenelon).
-- Gary Henry