By David Faust
Christianity is known for its nouns: cross, Bible, grace, church. But to go deeper in our faith, we can’t forget the verbs: serve, love, give, go, seek, forgive, ask, teach, trust. There is no book of “Passivity” in the Bible, but there is one called “Acts.” Follow Christ, and you’ll never lack something worthwhile to do.
Actions have consequences. On the negative side, “Whoever digs a pit may fall into it; whoever breaks through a wall may be bitten by a snake. Whoever quarries stones may be injured by them; whoever splits logs may be endangered by them” (Ecclesiastes 10:8, 9). But life’s dangers shouldn’t make us play it safe. No risk, no reward. “Through laziness, the rafters sag; because of idle hands, the house leaks” (10:18).
Diversify Your Efforts; Try Different Approaches
Ecclesiastes 11 offers this advice: “Ship your grain across the sea; after many days you may receive a return. Invest in seven ventures, yes, in eight; you do not know what disaster may come upon the land” (vv. 1, 2). Solomon exported grain to other nations, but to reduce risk he didn’t put it all on the same ship.
An old adage says, “Don’t put all your eggs in one basket.” A wise investor doesn’t put all of his money in one fund; he diversifies. A wise merchant keeps Plan B in mind if sales lag for one of his products. Church leaders need to consider a variety of methods—if one doesn’t work, try something else.
Don’t Make Excuses; Seize Your Opportunities
We shouldn’t make excuses for selfishness or inactivity. “Whoever watches the wind will not plant; whoever looks at the clouds will not reap” (v. 4). A lazy farmer won’t plant his seed or harvest his crop because the conditions are never quite right. He worries irrationally about the weather; it’s always too windy or cloudy. But clouds can be good. “If clouds are full of water, they pour rain on the earth” (v. 3). John Wesley used this verse to teach the value of generosity. He commented, “Learn . . . the practice of liberality from the very lifeless creatures, from the clouds; which when they are filled with water, do not hoard it up, but plentifully pour it forth for the refreshment both of the fruitful field and the barren wilderness.”
If you want to be a pessimist, you can always find a reason to delay action or avoid responsibility. The economy is bad. The work is hard. People are unreceptive. But if you wait until conditions are perfect, you may never act at all. Might your problems be the fertile soil in which your faith will grow? Might stressful times be the very conditions in which the Lord will do his greatest work? “As you do not know the path of the wind, or how the body is formed in a mother’s womb, so you cannot understand the work of God, the Maker of all things” (v. 5).
Don’t just stand there; do something! “Sow your seed in the morning, and at evening let your hands not be idle, for you do not know which will succeed, whether this or that, or whether both will do equally well” (v. 6). How will God bless your efforts? You won’t know until you try. As actor John Wayne put it, “Courage is being scared to death and saddling up anyway.”
1. When is the last time you took a risk because of your faith in God?
2. What potentially positive but difficult action have you been avoiding?
David Faust is president of Cincinnati Christian University, Cincinnati, Ohio, and past Executive Editor of The Lookout.
Use this guide to read through the Bible in 12 months. Follow David Faust’s comments on the highlighted text in every issue of THE LOOKOUT.
The Lookout.’s Bible Reading Plan for October 14, 2012
1 Peter 1:1–9
1 Peter 1:10–16
1 Peter 1:17–25
1 Peter 2:1–8
Song of Solomon 1
1 Peter 2:9–17
Song of Solomon 2
Jeremiah 47, 48
1 Peter 2:18–25
Song of Solomon 3