Facts of the Matter

A weekly letter of encouragement and challenge to business and professional men and women
Wednesday, August 23, 2006
Dear Colleagues,


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Jesus was filled with compassion as he observed people who were fainting and scattered (Literally: as if slapped) due in part at least to the lack of spiritual leadership. Among the masses there are those, he said, who will respond to him but for the fact that the toilers available to guide them are in short supply. (Matt. 9:36-38) All around you people are in trouble with their lives, and some of them will welcome the Gospel if you make the effort to bring it to them.

From 2 Timothy 2:1-5 we can ascertain four reasons for the shortage of laborers:

A failure to appropriate the grace of God:  Paul admonished Timothy, Be strong in the grace that is in Christ Jesus.  (Vs. 2:1) The apostle understood that if Timothy were to remain strong as a laborer, he would need a regular dose of Gods grace. Writing from a Roman prison, Paul was well aware that in the thankless environment of a world hostile to the Gospel, one must not only experience Gods grace in dealing with his own failings and sin, but he must also extend that grace to others. After all, lost people usually are not very attractive, self-absorbed as they are with their own lives.  (See 2 Cor. 12:9,10; 2 Pet. 3:18)

An unwillingness to suffer for the Gospel: Paul instructed young Timothy, Endure hardship with us like a good soldier of Christ Jesus. (Vs. 2:3) That is, expect persecution, rejection, exploitation, indifference, and a lack of appreciation for your efforts.  Accept without complaint the reality that you, as Christs servant and message-bearer are the giver while most of your lost associates will be the takers. (See Lk. 17:10 2 Cor. 4:8-18;12:15; 2 Tim. 2:10; 3:12; Heb.12:2,3)

A lack of single-minded focus on winning the lost: A soldier on duty doesn’t get caught up in making deals at the marketplace. He concentrates on carrying out orders.  (Vs. 2:4 Msg.) Lets face it, you already have a full plate: Kids schooling and little league, business pressures, the attraction of recreation and entertainment, enjoying the company of old friends, responsibilities in the community and at church, etc. All worthwhile activities to be sure.  But we need to be aware of their subtle power to draw us away from even sequester us – from laboring to win the lost.  If we are to effectively reach people with the Gospel, it will be by naturally and intentionally building long term trust and relationships through recreation, back yard barbeques, standing with them in their times of crisis, etc., etc. This of course translates into a significant commitment of our time and resources.  A significant commitment of our very lives.  (See Lk. 8:14; 2 Pet. 2:20)

An unwillingness to live and minister by the rulesIf anyone competes as an athlete, he does not receive the victor’s crown unless he competes according to the rules. (Vs. 2:5a)  In drawing a metaphor from the Greek Olympics, Paul is suggesting the necessity of such qualities as intense discipline and preparation, self control over ones lusts and corruption, and a certain inner toughness.  (See 1 Cor. 9:24-27; 2 Tim. 4:7,8)

QUESTION: Are you in fact carrying your God-assigned cross (Lk. 9:23, 24) in laboring among the lost whom God has placed in your life?  Or are you just dabbling around the edges? If you are just dabbling, what changes do you need to make now?

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