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Sunday, December 22, 2013

Thoughts from the Past – Lists


April 6, 2006 (edited)

Today I was feeling discouraged that I haven't been getting "enough" done when I realized that I haven't been making "to do" lists for myself. You see, making a list of the things you need to do has more than one benefit. First, it reminds you what needs to be done. Next it helps you put things in order of priority as to what should be done first and when. Lastly, as you mark things off your list, it helps you feel satisfied to see what you have accomplished. Sometimes we actually forget what we've done when we don't have a list.

In thinking on lists, it occurred to me that this is one area where Christians get into trouble. Lists of what needs doing are helpful. We are given some in scripture, but there are many things added by various people that are actually not clearly listed in scripture (observing Christmas, homeschooling, “courtship/betrothal”, higher education or no higher education, etc.).

Setting priorities is also good, but we can get into trouble there as we are often tempted to place what we think or have been told is "God's will for us" ahead of our true Biblical responsibilities (Exp.. - Parents are responsible for the raising and training of their own kids before helping other people's kids; so, if teaching Sunday School is keeping you from training your own kids properly, you need to stop teaching Sunday School.)

But, it is the "accomplished list" that can be a major downfall to believers.

There are so many lists of "spiritual things" (and I use that term very loosely) that have been made into "accomplished lists" - really, "look-what-we/I-did lists". Church attendance, giving, Sunday School Bibles "present", building funds, buses, missionaries supported, salvation and baptisms for the year, etc. are some of the lists that are generally seen and admired or mourned. Other lists or notations come in where perhaps a certain man or woman is boasted to have led "so many thousand (or million) souls to Christ" or raised "so many hundred orphans in ______ for the Lord."

2Corinthians 10:12 For we dare not make ourselves of the number, or compare ourselves with some that commend themselves: but they measuring themselves by themselves, and comparing themselves among themselves, are not wise.

How do they really know how many people Moody or Billy Sunday actually led to Christ? Who was counting? And what about the false births...or the real ones that the "counters" didn't know about?  This is not to say it is wrong to relate stories or biographies, for many are related in scripture; but the comparing or lifting up of men and women for admiration is the problem.

For Christians, the "accomplished" list of spiritual endeavors is a very dangerous thing. Besides the problems mentioned above, there is the issue of whose job it is to do the recording anyway. Scripture indicates it is the Lord who is responsible to "keep records" on these things. An important aspect of this is that only He knows what's really been done and what counts!

Jeremiah 17:10 I the LORD search the heart, I try the reins, even to give every man according to his ways, and according to the fruit of his doings.

Romans 14:12 So then every one of us shall give account of himself to God.

We often may not even know how something we said or did affected the outcome of some fruitful event on God's list. We also have little idea of how God rates the "value" of various activities. Our standards of what "counts" and what "doesn't" has largely been based on man's definitions which, more often than not, have been proven to be off the mark when examined with scripture.

Christ told the disciples in Mark 10:43, But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: 44 And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. 45 For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many. Based on this, the young girl who runs the errands and washes the dishes for the lady who prepares the meals, for the lady who runs the kitchen which feeds the staff and workers of the "great, godly man" who preaches the sermon that "wins a thousand people to Christ" may have a greater reward than the said famous preacher. Or perhaps it will go to the mentally slow Monastic vows rest on the false assumption that there is a special calling, a vocation, to which superior Christians are invited to observe the counsels of perfection while ordinary Christians fulfill only the commands; but there simply is no special religious vocation since the call of God comes to each at the common tasks.
- Martin Luther
fellow who sweeps up after the whole crowd!

We don't know what's on our "accomplished list" in God's records, but it may not be what we expect at all. Therefore, we should allow the Lord to make our "accomplished lists" for us, and not be overly concerned about what is boasted by others. Instead of feeling discouraged that we are not "doing enough" or not doing "what counts", we should entrust our works into His care and leave the reckoning to Him.

Paul wrote, 1Corinthians 4:1 Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. 2 Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful. 3 But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man's judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. 4 For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord. 5 Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God. If Paul did not judge himself in these matters, why should we? The Lord knows what we have done and why. That should be sufficient for us!

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