Focus On The Big Picture
A story was told of three young men who inherited a farm from their father. The decided they were going to make a go of becoming farmers. As planting season arrived, the three men got up early and walked towards the barn. As they approached, one of them saw the tractor in horrible shape, so he went to get some parts to fix it up. Another son saw that the fences were broken, so he went to the lumber yard and bought the lumber to fix the fences. The third son looked at the barn and the farm house and decided their farm would look better if they painted these structures, so he went to town and bought the paint.
As the story goes, they worked on the aesthetics but forgot one thing. The seed was still in the barn, and thus they did not get it planted, and they failed in becoming farmers.
Any reputable farmer will tell you that planting the seed is number one on any list. Afterward, the taking care of the crop is necessary, because if there is no crop to sell, there is no profit.
There is a similar story in the Old Testament in the book of Haggai.
In chapter 2 verse 19 the question is asked: "Is the seed still in the barn?"
The passage in Haggai was making a point, and it should ring as true today as at any time. We sometimes get involved in taking care of the details that the overall project is lost. Many business owners get involved in aesthetics and image, that they forget their purpose of business. A lot of restaurant owners work on the ambience and appearance of their restaurant, but if the food is bad, it does not matter to the customers how pretty the place is. Some service companies concentrate on appearance, but if their service is bad, they will not have any customers.
Let us bring the application to our way of life and the meanings for the church. We sometimes are guilty of what we call 'window dressing'. We want to portray a picture of piety and faithfulness towards others, but inside we are guilty of worldliness. The truth eventually will come out; either being caught by others, or when we appear before God in judgment.
Some churches work on the building and auditorium to make it look pretty, but that does not confirm or approve the congregation as being faithful to the Lord.
The problem is that we have failed to see the big picture, and do what our goal should be. The church has the responsibility of teaching the word of God. That is what churches should do. Not only inside with the truth coming from the pulpit, but as each member takes the time to teach others outside of the assembly.
Each Christian should remember that appearance is good and can help to influence others, and set an example. But appearance is not everything. Our goal should be the same goal that belonged to Christ and God. God is not willing that any perish. We should look at souls in the same way and not allow them to perish. True, most will ignore our pleas to return to God, but that does not give us the excuse of not even trying. If we are to be like Jesus, we must look to what Jesus was. He was a servant, first and foremost. We as Christians should be seeking what Jesus was seeking. To help people get to heaven. Now, here is where we need to make application of the lesson. We have the word of God in our bibles. Should we not be sharing this word with others? Should we not be providing the greatest need known to humankind? God's plan of salvation is man's greatest need. And we say nothing? There are those who pervert God's plan, and we say nothing? Do we not care about souls? Until we learn to care about souls, and expose them to the truth, we will not be like Jesus. That is our goal, is it not?
Remember in Acts 8 verse 4 the Christians who had been scattered because of the persecution went everywhere preaching the word. Our application in this matter is that we should realize that perhaps we have been concentrating on the "thou shalt not's" so much that we have forgotten our primary goal. The primary goal is to give Jesus our hearts and bodies for His service, not ours.
We should be doing whatever we can to encourage our fellow Christians, and teaching those who are not Christians. If we truly become servants we will seek the better welfare of others, and not be so selfish to seek our own welfare first. We encourage them because we see a day approaching when it will be too late. The day when our Lord returns in the air and gathers up His own, and the rest are gathered up for judgment. The day of judgment will be the time when our faithfulness will become evident. If we are truly trying to help others get to heaven, we will be approved and invited into the feast of the Lord in Heaven. But if we have been doing nothing more than 'window dressing' and cannot get beyond the 'thou shalt's and thou shalt not's", then we will not be worthy. Don't get me wrong here, the thou shalt's and thou shalt not's are still important. We still have to observe and practice them. It is just that we have to practice them in light of the bigger picture. These are not for our personal use only, but for us to set the example for others. These are just the tools we need to be planting the seed. If the seed is not planted there can be no increase, and our efforts will fail.
Our job is to plant the seed, and the seed is the word of God. We must realize that it is God who gives the increase. So let us be like the seed sower in Matthew 13. Let us spread the message to all, and perhaps some will fall upon the good soil.

By Carey Scott Feb.2,2011

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