Tim Johnson, editor
March 30, 2003
in it for Me?"
Low Hanging Fruit
Anyone who has ever harvested fruit from a tree knows that the easiest picking is of the fruit that hangs on the lowest limbs. This fruit can be quickly gathered - no ladders, no reaching, no problem. This is, for obvious reasons, always the first fruit to be picked.
Business people sometimes refer to "low hanging fruit" when they are not even discussing apples, peaches, or oranges. They use this expression to identify the people, products, profits, etc., that are easiest to realize. For businessmen, just like orchard keepers, it makes a lot of sense to go after the "low hanging fruit" first.
As Christians, we have the responsibility of sharing the gospel with the masses of lost people in the world. Contemplating this job can be an overwhelming thing. There are more than six billion people in the world today. In fact, we are told that there are currently more living people on earth than the sum total of all the people who have died throughout all time! Think of it: more than half of all the people who ever needed to learn about God and His will are out there today - waiting for us to get the "good news" to them.
How can we hope to succeed? Where should we begin? How can we tackle this enormous job? Here's a suggestion: GO FOR THE LOW HANGING FRUIT! By that we mean that we should first target the people around us that we know personally -- our friends, family, co-workers, neighbors, and other acquaintances. These are the folks that we know best, and they know us. Our chances to influence them will be the greatest. Yes, we need to reach all those nameless masses out there, but why not start first by sharing God's truth with the ones right at hand? Such folks will not require special "evangelism plans," or the expending of large amounts of money. We can just talk to them around the kitchen table, across the back fence, or while seated at the coffee break table. We can realize a huge harvest for the Lord and His kingdom in this simple way. Let's get busy!
-- By Greg Gwin
Jude wrote of the common salvation. He spoke not of a low-level or mediocre salvation, but of a great salvation shared in a common or same basis by all partakers of it. Consider some of the ways our great salvation is common.
Salvation through Christ is common to all races. It is not just for white Americans. It is equally available to Blacks, Indians, Orientals, or any other race that might exist (Romans 1:16,17; Colossians 3:10,11). Too long, racial prejudice has caused people to ignore the need of all people to hear the gospel and to become servants of righteousness. No race has an exclusive claim to the gospel. With difficulty, Peter and the Jews learned this lesson, and it is recorded for our instruction (Acts 10 and 11).
Salvation through Christ is common to both sexes. There is no exclusion of women or degrading of them in this salvation (Galations 3:28). While there are distinctive and different responsibilities set forth in the Scriptures for men and women, salvation is equally available to both (I Timothy 2:8-15).
Salvation through Christ is common to all levels of society. The idea that Christianity is a middle class, white American religion is false in its very concept. Rich and poor, great and small have right to the common salvation. Any obstacles to their receiving this salvation are either purely incidental or of their own attitudes. Sacrifice is required of all (Colossians 3:11; James 1:9-11). The common salvation is a great equalizer. Again, social prejudice has caused people to neglect to teach those of other social levels than one's own. Some would exclude from the church those whose lives have been extremely shameful - harlots, ex-convicts, etc. The truth is that Christ died for these and for all sinners (Hebrews 2:9).
Salvation through Christ is common to all nations. It is not a "Western" religion, while other religions are suitable for the "Eastern" world. "In every nation, he that feareth him and worketh righteousness, is acceptable to him" (Acts 10:34,35). The Great Commission was for all nations (Matthew 28:19,20).
Salvation through Christ is obtained by common obedience (Hebrews 5:8-9). Each one who hears is responsible to believe in Jesus as the Christ, to repent of his sins, to confess his faith in Christ, and to be baptized for the remission of his sins (Mark 16:16; Luke 13:3; Matthew 10:32; Acts 2:38). Having thus entered into newness of life, all can rejoice in the common salvation and earnestly contend for that faith (Romans 6:3-4; Galations 3:26,27; II Corinthians 5:17; Jude 1-3) Do you have that joy?
-- By Gilbert Alexander
The Lord described one of the shortcomings of the ancient Israelites as follows: "Everyone loves bribes, and follows after rewards. They do not defend the fatherless, nor does the cause of the widow come before them" (Isaiah 1:23). Like many today, the people of Israel were not much interested in helping those who could not help them in return. The prevailing way of determining whether or not to be charitable and kind was apparently to ask oneself, "What's in it for me?" and "What am I going to get out of it?" And so it is today. Unless there is some prospect of being rewarded with pleasure, financial gain or praise, few will show much concern for the welfare of the needy and lowly.
It has been said that you can learn a lot about a man's character by observing how he treats someone who can do nothing for him. A person of quality will be kind to those who are in positions "lower" than his (e.g. waiters, cashiers, clerks, employees at work, underclassmen at school, etc.). He will go out of his way to be helpful to those who cannot pay him back.
Jesus expects His disciples to "condescend to men of low estate" (Romans 12:16). He explicitly commands us to do good to those who cannot or will not repay us. In Luke 14:13-14 Jesus said, "When you give a feast, invite the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind. And you will be blessed, because they cannot repay you; for you shall be repaid at the resurrection of the just". And in Luke 6:35 He commands us to love our "enemies, do good, and lend, hoping for nothing in return; and your reward will be great, and you will be sons of the Most High" (Luke 6:35).
Note that in both of the preceding passages, the reward for doing good to others is not material, financial, or even emotional -- it's spiritual and eternal. Let not our love and kindness be sold cheaply for the temporary rewards of this life. Rather, store up eternal treasures in heaven by showing courtesy and compassion to all. Make it your task today to do something for someone who cannot pay you back.
-- by Steve Klein