GIVING IT ALL YOU'VE GOT

June 21, 2021

Lackadaisical. Not a word you're likely to see on a resume any time soon.

To be honest, no one gives an all-out, 110% effort at every task at every time of every day.  I remember watching the opening sequence from a comedy routine that left literally laughing out loud. The comedian was introduced and applauded, as is the typical case.  He walks somewhat slowly from the side entry onto the stage, a cup of coffee in his hand. 

After he arrives center stage, he places the coffee on a small table, pulls a couple of containers of creamer out of his jacket pocket and proceeds to pour them into the cup.  Then, from another pocket he produces a packet of sugar, and adds that as well.  Finally, he pulls a stir stick out, stirs the coffee with more focus than truly needed and (finally) takes a long gulp. As he puts the coffee cup back on the table he looks out at the audience and says wryly, "Oh, like YOU start work the moment YOU ARRIVE !!!!"  Laughter erupts as everyone sees their own behavior in the joke.

Well, it may be true that we don't all  jump into our pile of work tasks with vigor and enthusiasm, but there are some tasks that DO require us to "give it all you've got."  The most important relationships in our lives most definitely fall into that category.

Our spouse deserves the very best of our efforts. There's a saying among men that "If Mama ain't happy; ain't nobody happy!" It's true enough, but misses the point that it is the husband's job to care for the wife so she is truly happy. There's a corollary to that statement. If Mama stays unhappy long enough, then YOU get to be unhappy …. with ONLY HALF your stuff!

Our children deserve our very best efforts, as well. I've mentioned my most recent grandchild in the last several posts. (I know, typical grandparent.) But my son isn't likely to look at his new daughter and say to his wife, "Let's just 'sort-of' take care of her; there's no need to overdo it." Of course not!!! Like all good parents, they'll give their best efforts. They'll sacrifice. They'll do without things so that she can have all she needs.

They'll do this, as all good parents do, because they recognise that they have developed skills to deal with life issues that are utterly beyond her at this point. With her first week of life outside the womb not even half-way lived; she has absolutely no capacity to care for ANY of her own needs. More to the point, she has no way even to determine what they are, let alone develop a strategy of how to meet them. Left solely to her own devices, she would most certainly die.

You know who ELSE deserves our utmost effort? Those around us who do not know the Lord Jesus Christ. The problem is that as people pass through life, they THINK the have things under control. Life might appear to be being well-handled, even without Jesus. There are those who have pursued sufficient education, landed adequate employment and accumulated sufficient wealth to live comfortably without Christ. Or so they believe.

We've all heard of people who appeared to be healthy, but were suddenly diagnosed with terminal cancer. The outside we could see didn't display a valid picture of the true state of their health on the inside. But that doesn't change the diagnosis. The only real chance the patient has is for a proper diagnosis to be made and effective treatment to begin before the disease has progressed too far. The earlier the cancer is identified, the better the prognosis.

People without Jesus are in precisely the same circumstance. The outside appearance is not the issue, the only thing that matters is what is truly happening on this inside. Like flowers in a vase, which may look quite beautiful for a time; death is slowly taking over. And Jesus is the only answer. So He is the one we proclaim, admonishing and teaching everyone with all wisdom, so that we may present everyone fully mature in Christ. We use all our wisdom, we make every effort.

The final group who needs our best-of-the-best effort are those we lead to a new relationship with Jesus Christ. Like any newly-born child, a new believer has absolutely no capacity to care for ANY of their own spiritual needs. Like an infant, they actually have no way to even determine what they are. For that, loving discipleship is required. Someone must walk with them, laying the foundation of repentance from acts that lead to death, and of faith in God, instruction about baptisms, the laying on of hands, the resurrection of the dead, and eternal judgment. The scripture calls these "elementary teachings," these are the milk of new-born babes in Christ. We who are more mature have a responsibility to teach, those who are new to the faith have a responsibility to learn.

Note that this is not some false claim of eternal superiority, merely a recognition of fact. The goal is NOT to produce children who can handle only life's basic needs while remaining forever dependenin either natural life or spiritual life. The goal is to produce children who become mature enough to reproduce healthy and strong children that are themselves able to reproduce.

And so we use ALL OUR WISDOM to warn and to teach EVERYONE. Best effort. We give it ALL we've got. We want to present everyone we can fully mature in Christ.  

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