And I saw the dead, small and great, stand before God; and the books were opened: and another book was opened, which is the book of life: and the dead were judged out of those things which were written in the books, according to their works. 13 And the sea gave up the dead which were in it; and death and hell delivered up the dead which were in them: and they were judged every man according to their works.
–Revelation 20: 12-13
Throughout my youth, I often asked authority figures why leaders didn’t do something about this, that or the other thing, and I found that most often those leaders who were saved and believed themselves wise answered, “Well, God is sovereign.” They rarely offered a better answer, either because they did not have one, or because they had surrendered to the complacency that is yet another of the great snares that entraps leaders in God’s service. While God is in fact sovereign, and He is ultimately in control of everything, this does not mean that we ought to just let things lie. The truth of the matter, in fact, is that it’s far easier to let things lie than it is to cry aloud and spare not (Isaiah 58: 1), so many of us choose the path of least resistance.
Yes, our actions must be guided by the Holy Spirit, but too often we excuse our inaction by claiming that the the Holy Spirit has not led us to do this or that, or that God has not called us to a particular task, and very often these are merely excuses if were are to be fully truthful. For example, a common phrase by leaders to excuse themselves from responsibility for their churches’ evangelistic activities is “sheep beget sheep.” While the people attending a church can and should evangelize in whatever way God has called them to do so, we must understand that ultimate responsibility for this lies with the leadership. How do we know this? The only detailed Biblical reference regarding the reproductive habits of sheep clearly demonstrates that the sheep only began to reproduce properly after the shepherd had taken decisive action (Genesis 30:28-42). Jacob’s isolation of the speckled and striped animals to ensure that they would multiply and produce more speckled and striped offspring caused results different from what would have occurred had he left the animals to their own devices. There are some who will say that cutting stripes into wooden rods doesn’t make animals conceive offspring with stripes, but the Bible never says that such is the case, but rather that this is what Jacob attempted; it also records his separating the animals in such a way that would cause them to reproduce in the desired manner. Since we already know that there are no idle details in the Bible, we must therefore know that responsibility for the growth of any “flock,” whether it be a business, a church, or other endeavor, lies primarily with its leadership.
Sometimes my fellow saints didn’t always approve of some of the things that I did, and there were quite a few people who didn’t think it was “proper” for me to be seen having a lively conversation with a crack addict, or giving a street prostitute a hug. While I cannot say that God specifically told me to do these things, i did have a goal in mind: even if some of these people would not listen to yet another sermon, I could certainly bring them to a place of being willing to listen to me if they knew me as someone who at least treated them like they mattered, and as someone who didn’t think he was better than them (Romans 12:15-16)
Actions (or a lack thereof) will always produce results.
Every action, or inaction will produce some kind of result, and the Bible is very clear that God has given us considerable responsibility for what happens in our lives and the lives of others.
He becometh poor that dealeth with a slack hand: but the hand of the diligent maketh rich. (Proverbs 10:4)
We have often been guilty of just letting things ride out, without doing much about what is going on around us, and then wondering why things don’t change. While God can and does intervene in our affairs, sometimes we are the instrument of that intervention, and so we must take care that we are always ready to be used of Him in whatever manner He deems fit. Over the years I have seen many leaders pray for someone in lack without actually doing anything to help them, even when it was well within their means to do so. What we must begin to realize is that the enemy frequently uses lack to suppress people whose gifts can actually bring provision not only for them, but for many around them as well. I have encountered quite a few men and women of God who were struggling with lack and poverty, and upon further questioning, nearly all had great business ideas or inventions that they had been working on, but they had been unable t implement because of lack. When we fail to diligently pursue the well-being of those whom we lead, often the most damage we do is to ourselves, and our ministries. There may very well be boundless supernatural provision in your midst, disguised as a broke, busted and disgusted saint.
One of the most powerful effects of lack and poverty is the entrenchment of complacency. It will usually not look the part, however. Some who suffer in this area will appear to be making a lot of effort, but often their efforts are stunted, and even half-hearted. One of the greatest race horses of all time, Sea Biscuit, initially had to be entirely retrained by his new owners. Why? The previous owners had seen him as an undersized loser with no potential, so they used him to train other horses by forcing him to let the other horses outpace him. He had been trained to lose! The same thing happens with people. Bad circumstances, and continually bad outcomes because of demonic oppression in various forms, or because of a variety of other reasons, can cause us to become so accustomed to poor results that we cease to make our very best effort.
We must understand, and cause those whom we lead to understand, that God’s sovereignty is never a reason to sit back and do little or nothing, but rather His sovereignty ought to be a motivation for us to fully pursue His purpose with passion , diligence, and wisdom. We should act because God is sovereign. His sovereignty should cause us to desire to do all that we do with excellence,so that we may represent Him well in everything.
In your daily activities, as well as in your lifelong pursuit of God’s purpose and plan for your life, and that of those whom He will have you to serve as a leader, always remember that while God is in control, we shall all be judged according to our works. the challenge: Make every moment matter, allow even those who would seem to be the lowest of the low become important in your eyes, and you will surely find that so much of what God has called you to do and to be often lies in details, actions, and people which may seem to be insignificant. Never allow circumstances to cause you to cease from an aggressive pursuit of God’s purpose.
Whatsoever thy hand findeth to do, do it with thy might; for there is no work, nor device, nor knowledge, nor wisdom, in the grave, whither thou goest. (Ecclesiastes 9: 10)
Points for Discussion:
- Examine Proverbs 13: 4, 21:5, and 27: 23 in light of this lesson.
- 2 Peter 3: 14 admonishes us, “Wherefore, beloved, seeing that ye look for such things, be diligent that ye may be found of him in peace, without spot, and blameless.” Prepare a brief sermon on the pursuit of God’s purpose beginning with this scripture.