November 25, 2012
So we, though many, are one body in Christ, and individually members one of another. Having gifts that differ according to the grace given to us, let us use them .... Romans 12:5-6a
The new minister at an Edinburgh, Scotland, church was making visits. The second call he made that day was at the shop of a member: a shoemaker.
Being new, this reverend thought he could razzle-dazzle his members by using 25-cent theological words. Rather than being confounded and confused, the shoemaker replied with deep spiritual understanding and insight. The preacher was impressed and blurted out, "My friend you should not be cobbling shoes! A man who has such lofty thoughts ought to be doing the Lord's work!"
The cobbler straightened up and with steel in his voice said, "Reverend, I ask you to take that back!"
"Take what back?"
"Take back the part about me not doing the Lord's work. I am doing the Lord's work. Do you see that pair of shoes? They belong to a widow's son. He works outside to keep a roof over their heads and food on their table. Winter is coming. I believe the Lord said, "I have made you a shoemaker. It is time for you to make shoes for this boy, so he will remain healthy."
"Reverend, you preach by God's direction, and I make shoes for a widow's son under God's direction. I pray that someday both of us will hear the same sentence: 'Well done, thou good and faithful servant.'"
That shoemaker understood the point Paul was making to the church in Rome. He wanted them to understand all of us have God-given abilities -- abilities which ought to be used to glorify the Lord and benefit the common good. It is a lesson we who have been redeemed by the misunderstood and underappreciated Savior ought to remember.
A few weeks ago, I was preaching at a church anniversary. After the service one of the members came up and said, "Great sermon, pastor! Best I ever heard." True or not, in complimenting me, he had hurt a beloved pastor, who had served the congregation for 20 years.
I thanked him for his kindness, and then added, "You know, it is easy to come into a church once and preach a sermon to which people listen. It is far harder to be a pastor in a congregation and, year after year, preach the Lord's Word to people who know you."
To do so with enthusiasm is a gift from God.
This is why I would encourage you to spend a few moments thinking of someone who is using God's abilities and seldom gets credit. How about the teenager who is faithful to confirmation vows, even against overwhelming pressure to do otherwise? How about the Sunday school teacher who spent years loving and teaching the children of others?
How about, well, you add the name -- add a name of someone who will someday hear, "Well done, good and faithful servant."
THE PRAYER: Dear Lord Jesus, when You walked among us the world neither appreciated or applauded You. Unrecognized and unsung, You gave Yourself for me. Now may I show my love for You by encouraging others who are using their gifts to glorify You. In Your Name I pray. Amen.
Pastor Ken Klaus
Speaker emeritus of The Lutheran Hour®
Lutheran Hour Ministries