Friday, July 7, 2017

Flawed Missionaries, Flawed Methods, God's Blessing

I will never understand why God wants to use people. He knows what we’re like. Even so, He chooses to use flawed, crazy, and sometimes even cranky people in His work. The Bible says, For ye see your calling, brethren, how that not many wise men after the flesh, not many mighty, not many noble, are called: But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty; And base things of the world, and things which are despised, hath God chosen, yea, and things which are not, to bring to nought things that are: That no flesh should glory in his presence (1 Corinthians 1:26-29).

Foolish things? Check. Not strong? Check. Not noble? Check. Unwise? Check. Weak? You’d better believe it! Every time I’m with a group of missionaries, our flaws are all too evident. We’re quick tempered. Some talk behind others’ backs. Some missionaries don’t even like the natives they’re trying to reach! When we look around at each other, we can only say, “Wow, God sure had a sense of humor when he chose us to be missionaries!”

And, so it is in all our fields. No missionary is perfect. Every guy and gal has imperfections and weaknesses. Missionaries are unique—for some, that’s putting it mildly! Every single one is a work of God in progress. He’s learning how to walk with the Lord, just as you are.

If anyone ever gets saved in any of our ministries, it’s only because the Holy Spirit spoke to a heart. It’s all of God and certainly not of us. Yet, God wants to include human beings in His work. It’s one of the most humbling concepts in the Bible.

It’s such a mistake to think too well of ourselves and be critical of our fellow missionaries. God wants an atmosphere of harmony in ministry.

Years ago, a situation came up which necessitated implementing the biblical process. After studying the Matthew 18 passage, my husband and I learned some practical insights about what’s supposed to be done. I’ll guide you through this short passage.  (This is talking about actual disagreements and issues—word or deed—not dreamed up or crimes.)
  • Step 1Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. Notice who’s supposed to approach whom. It is the offended person. He goes alone to confront the offender—a private meeting.  We’re talking about offenses in a church context. Both are believers.
  • Step 2—If that person will not make peace, the next step is necessary. Notice again who takes witnesses with him: the offended person. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. This way, there is a little more pressure for the offending person to get things right.
  • Step 3—If the offender is stubborn and will not make peace with his Christian brother, the next step comes into play: And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church: but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as an heathen man and a publican (Matthew 18:15-17).

The Bible clearly says that God wants Christians to get along. If there’s a quarrel, forgive—as Christ forgave!
  • Put on therefore, as the elect of God, holy and beloved, bowels of mercies, kindness, humbleness of mind, meekness, longsuffering; Forbearing one another, and forgiving one another, if any man have a quarrel against any: even as Christ forgave you, so also do ye. And above all these things put on charity, which is the bond of perfectness. And let the peace of God rule in your hearts, to the which also ye are called in one body; and be ye thankful (Colossians 3:12-15).
  • Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ. For if a man think himself to be something, when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself (Galatians 6:1-3).

What if someone in the church commits a crime? Report crimes to the police. This isn’t a church matter. Crimes are anything against the law. They include: child and spousal abuse, robbery, embezzlement, assault, and many other offenses. When someone in the church is involved in a crime, it’s important that the church report it to the authorities.

Let’s pretend the head missionary on your field has a “brilliant” idea. You work in a ministry team, and many of the co-workers disagree with his proposal. What do you do? First, examine his idea and make sure it’s okay biblically. If it’s not, one of the men should go to him alone and let him know why it’s not a good idea. If it’s not against the Bible, you either do what he has in mind because he’s the leader or you can discuss a variety of ideas in a sensible manner. There’s no reason for “mutiny” or strife.

How should we serve God on our mission field?
  1. Gladly and with singing. Serve the LORD with gladness: come before his presence with singing (Psalm 100:2).
  2. Trusting God to lead us. Trust in the LORD with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths (Proverbs 3:5-6).
  3. Humbly and purely. Be not wise in thine own eyes: fear the LORD, and depart from evil (Proverbs 3:7).
  4. Tithing and giving. Honour the LORD with thy substance, and with the firstfruits of all thine increase (Proverbs 3:9).
  5. Following Christ. Jesus said, If any man serve me, let him follow me; and where I am, there shall also my servant be: if any man serve me, him will my Father honour (John 12:26).
  6. In spirit, and praying for the people to whom we minister. For God is my witness, whom I serve with my spirit in the gospel of his Son, that without ceasing I make mention of you always in my prayers (Romans 1:9).
  7. Selflessly serving others. For, brethren, ye have been called unto liberty; only use not liberty for an occasion to the flesh, but by love serve one another (Galatians 5:13).
  8. Patiently joyful and trusting through trials. My brethren, count it all joy when ye fall into divers temptations; Knowing this, that the trying of your faith worketh patience. But let patience have her perfect work, that ye may be perfect and entire, wanting nothing (James 1:2-4).
  9. Asking God for wisdom. If any of you lack wisdom, let him ask of God, that giveth to all men liberally, and upbraideth not; and it shall be given him (James 1:5).

May the Lord help us as we strive to serve Him to the best of our ability. Knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ (Colossians 3:24).

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