Stretch

Published on May 24th, 2017 by Pastor Ed Hlad | 0
Stretch

Stretch I have been trying to allow the Holy Spirit to stretch my heart and my mind while I have been meditating on this verse: “So then, as we have opportunity, let us do good to everyone, and especially to those who are of the household of faith.” Galatians 6:10 One of the things that I have been noticing is how picky we can be when serving or ministering to people. There are some people whom we are more than willing to serve. There are others that we have judged unworthy of our service. We probably don’t say it that way but when we hear or see their need we ignore it or choose to not get involved.

I suppose we could argue that we can’t help everyone. We just don’t have the time or resources to be involved with every need we come across. I agree with that and that is why I have been asking the Spirit to stretch my heart and mind. What happens when we fail to obey this verse and we choose to whom we are going to serve is that eventually the list of those we do not think we can help becomes very long and the list of those we will help becomes shorter and shorter. We will also find that as those lists grow in this way our self righteousness also grows. Our love of others shrinks. Our impatience with people grows. We no longer are seeing others through the eyes of Jesus but through the eyes of our judgmental standards. Words such as grace, mercy, love, and forgiveness are moved to the background as we pick and choose whom to serve.

You may argue that the verse allows for such decisions. The phrase “as we have opportunity” allows us to limit the amount of people we minister to. We do not always have opportunity to help some folks. We are busy that day, we cannot connect with them schedule wise, we do have the funds at the moment, we are not physically able to help, etc. There are many reasons why our opportunities are limited. I agree with that. It is one of the reasons God has established the Church. What we are not able to do individually can be done corporately as we all seek to serve others by using the gifts and resources that God has blessed us with. But that is much different than choosing those who are worthy of our service and those who are not. The phrase “as we have opportunity” implies that we seek to help everyone, especially our brothers and sisters in the church. The only thing that holds us back is our lack of opportunity. We are not given the right to pick and choose who deserves help or not. Didn’t Jesus say to help the poor and to visit those in prison? He does not say to only help or visit those who we think are in those positions because of circumstances and not bad choices.

What happens when you hear at church that someone needs help moving? Is your first response that you desire to help but let me check if I have the opportunity? What about that brother who is struggling financially? What about that man on the street with the sign that asks for money? Is our first response a desire to help? Do we seek to help all men, especially those of the household of faith? Last time I checked, that man with the sign is all men.

Why? Galatians 6:9 tells us why. “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up.” Doing good always brings a harvest of good in our lives and in the lives of others. We WILL reap. The context points us to the spiritual good that we will reap. The largest part of the harvest is that we will reap eternal life (6:8). Living with a heart and mind that seeks to serve all people is the heart and mind of Christ. Can you imagine if Jesus only helped those who were worthy to be helped? We would all be in major trouble.

There is a balance here. We must allow the Spirit of God to continue to teach us what is good. We cannot ignore those in need. We are not called to judge who is worthy of our help and who is not. We must, by the Spirit and the Word, do good to all men...as we have the opportunity. But we must also allow the Spirit and the Word to define what doing good would look like in the life of that person. At times is may mean that we help them with their physical needs and at other times it may mean that we allow the consequences of their decisions to play out in their lives. The key is our heart’s desire. We must desire to do good with all men. Our involvement, as we have opportunity, is a given. How we are involved takes the leading of the Spirit, direction from the Word of God, and often a multitude of counselors. If we allow the Spirit to stretch our hearts and minds in this way we will see a harvest of good that will bring great glory to our God.

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