Tuesday, July 5, 2016
While out in public, I often run into many fellow ministers. Usually our conversations are the typical “how ya doin?” and “how’s the ministry going?” sort of thing. I confess that I sometimes try to avoid those who always seem to make it a point to inform me of the many great things their church is doing. This past Saturday, however, my wife and I ran into a fellow minister who also was very anxious and excited to share some personal news with us but in his case, there was absolutely nothing in it about his church or ministry. He first asked how we were doing and how the church was going and we answered that everything was just fine. After a while, his eyes got watery and he shared with us the great news concerning a person near and dear to him who just a few days prior gave his heart to Christ. He had a hard time telling us the story because his voice cracked a few times as he tried to get all the story in. He also had to wipe his eyes every now and then. When our conversation ended, I turned to my wife and said: “Now, that, is a genuine servant of God!”
How could I make such a bold statement as that considering that, although I know many ministers, I don’t know this man very well? Well, Jesus said in Matthew 7:16 that we can know prophets by their fruit. This includes the things that come out of their mouths. In the case of the minister we ran into last Saturday, the thing he was most excited about was not his church or his ministry. He was excited that someone had turned his life over to the Lord. Jesus said in Luke 15:10: “Likewise, I say unto you, there is joy in the presence of the angels of God over one sinner that repents.” Shouldn’t the things that cause angels to rejoice be the things we rejoice about? Should we rejoice more that our church bank account is booming, or that we have more members, than in seeing souls come to Christ? I think not.
In my many years in the ministry I have learned that one can know a lot about people’s character just by their main topics of conversation or by the way they respond to questions, criticism, or accusations. Here is a case in point: I read in yesterday’s sports news about two professional tennis players who were fined ten thousand dollars each for unsportsmanlike behavior at a current tournament. Although I sense that 10 thousand dollars to these two may be the same as ten dollars to us, the reaction of one of them gave me an indication of her character. Fined for repeatedly smashing her racket on the ground and flinging a piece of equipment that landed in a cameraman’s lap, she glibly explained: “I don't want to go too long without cracking a racket. You know, I'm on track. I try to crack a certain amount a year. I'm a little behind this year, so it was good.” No, it was not good! A person of character would have apologized, owned up to her childish tantrum, and would have vowed to do better in the future.
Memory verse for the week: (Proverbs 22:1) “A good name is more desirable than great riches; to be esteemed is better than silver or gold.”