Thursday, October 12, 2006

You only get out of it what you put into it....

You only get out of it what you put into it. We have been told this simple
rule since we were kids. This wisdom, like all other wisdom, comes from the
Bible. You would be surprised what comes out of there. You should read it
sometime if you have passed that book by.

In Matthew 25: 24-30 (NIV) Jesus says, "Then the man who had received the
one talent came. 'Master', he said, 'I knew that you are a hard man,
harvesting where you have not sown and gathering where you have not
scattered seed, so I was afraid and went out and hid your talent in the
ground. See, here it what belongs to you.' "his master replied, 'You
wicked, lazy servant! So you knew that I harvest where I have not sown and
gather where I have not scattered seed? Well then, you should have put my
money on deposit with the bankers, so that when I returned I would have
received it back with interest. 'Take the talent from him and give it to
the one who has the ten talents. For everyone who has will be given more
and he will have an abundance. Whoever does not have, even what he has
will be taken from him. And throw that worthless servant outside, into the
darkness, where there will be weeping and gnashing of teeth.'

This sounds pretty harsh doesn't it? But there is a very practical
application of this scripture in our everyday lives. This parable that was
told by Jesus, which is only partially written here, speaks into our lives,
not only of money, but more deeply as to our relationship with others as
Christians. You only get out of people what you invest in them. Have you
ever said to someone, "What's with that person? They are always in the
corner. Seems like they seem like they are too good for anyone." Hmm.
Have you ever even tried to approach that person? Have you ever bothered to
find out who they really are or what they really like? Or have you just
made a snap decision based on how you perceived them? We have all been
guilty of this at one time or another. How can you get anything out of that
person in the corner unless you invest some time to really get to know that
person? We, especially as Christians, throw people aside way too casually.
God has given us much. And to whom much is given much is expected! (Luke
12:48 NKJV) So when you have a ministry or a church that you serve, or you
are a Pastor, you must invest in the people in your charge. You must invest
time and love and resources in them to make them all that God wants them to
be. You must point out their potential. If all you do is create an
audience for yourself, or condemn and keep them beneath you, you are not
sharing and multiplying what God has given to you. You will never see your
ministry grow and increase. If you are a Pastor you will never see your
church or people grow. You will create a world of spiritual robots that
just let you do everything, and they will never grow in God's Kingdom. But
you will never grow either. And moreover, God will hold you responsible for
those who's spiritual growth and development was put in your charge. When
judgment day comes, you, not they, will be asked why they have not grown in
spiritual matters. Their souls are on your head.

After a time, with care and teaching and nurturing your responsibility
towards those who have grown will not be your burden. They then must move
on and share and teach what they have learned, free from any personal
agendas. That is how Christ wanted His church to grow in love and wisdom.
Can you imagine how far along the church would be today if we all dropped
our own agendas? If we shared all that the Lord had taught us? If we
nurtured and grew our fellow man in the nature and love of Jesus Christ?
And once we have taught someone or many all that we know, then it is our
responsibility to get them to someone who is more mature in spiritual
matters than us. And we too must seek those who can continue to feed us.
If we were all about our Father's business and trying to grow in Him, we
would never have to struggle. God would see to our every need because our
focus would always be on Him. Our churches and ministries would be full of
thirsty and hungry souls in search of Jesus. Some will come to see you, but
if you direct their attention toward you and not Jesus, then you will see
and end to your growth.

I encourage you and tell you that it is not too late. There is a point in
every ministry where God will let you know that there is a reason for your
problems. You can stop it. Try making this announcement. "As of today,
this ministry is no longer about me and what I want. It will be as Jesus
intended. I will teach you everything I know and then, as I keep seeking
knowledge, I will pass it on to you. And then, as Jesus did, I will
commission you to go into the world and share what I have taught you. If
you do this, we will see an explosion in our church and in our ministry."
When God told man to go forth and multiply, he meant souls too. You will
only get out of your relationship with your church as much as you put into