by Woodrow Kroll
This is the second in a series of studies from the book of Ecclesiastes. --Editor
This is the second in a series of studies from the book of Ecclesiastes. --Editor
Pearl of Wisdom
Are you familiar with Elisha Gray? Probably not. But I'm sure you've heard of Alexander Graham Bell, the man who invented the telephone. Well, Elisha Gray was a Chicago electrician. He filed a patent application for the telephone two hours after Alexander Graham Bell did. A small delay of only two hours cost Elisha Gray fame and an enormous fortune.
It's little wonder that Ecclesiastes counsels us not to procrastinate: "Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might." Urgency is reflected in this pearl of wisdom because, as so many have already discovered, tomorrow is never guaranteed.
Ancient mythology depicts time as being like a man who has long hair in front but is bald in back. The point is that you must catch hold of time coming toward you because after it's past, nothing is left to grab.
When God calls us to a particular task, we need to respond by doing it now and doing it well. Throw everything into whatever God gives you to do. Take whatever God has put in your hand and use it, without delay and without reserve, for the Lord.
In Genesis 22, Abraham and Isaac went to the top of Mount Moriah. God put into Abraham's hand two things: a son and a knife. And Abraham was willing to use the knife on his only son to please God. In David's hand God put two things: He put a small sling and a small bag holding five smooth stones. It wasn't very much against the giant Goliath, but it was all David needed because God was on his side. Whatever God placed into David's hand, David used mightily (1 Sam. 17:40-50). Into Moses' hand God placed only one thing: a rod. When God asked Moses what was in his hand, he said, "It's just a rod." But when Moses cast it down according to God's instructions, it became a serpent and the symbol of God's authority in Moses' life (Ex. 4).
That's always been God's question to His people and it's His question to you today: "What do you have in your hand?" Whatever you have in your hand today--a saucepan, a computer, the wheel of an automobile, a Bible--that's what God is looking for you to use. He's looking for you to use it now and with all your might.
It's legitimate for us to ask why. Why should we do it with all our might? Let me suggest several reasons to you from God's Word.
Because we are imitators of Christ
The Bible says that all who are saved are to be like our Savior. Isaiah 50:7 prophetically records the words of the Messiah: "For the Lord God will help Me; therefore I will not be disgraced; therefore I have set My face like a flint, and I know that I will not be ashamed." If Jesus could set His face like a flint to do what God gave Him to do (Luke 9:51), shouldn't we do the same?
Hebrews 12:1-2 tells us, "Therefore we also, since we are surrounded by so great a cloud of witnesses, let us lay aside every weight, and the sin which so easily ensnares us [or besets us], and let us run with endurance the race that is set before us, looking unto Jesus, the author and finisher of our faith"--now notice this--"who for the joy that was set before Him endured the cross, despising the shame, and has sat down at the right hand of the throne of God." Jesus did well what God had for Him to do. He did it with intensity. He set His face like a flint. He even looked past the shame and the suffering to the joy of doing the will of the Father.
If you and I are to imitate Christ, we have to adapt His attitude of fervency. Whatever God puts into our hands to do, we need to do it as if it were the last opportunity we'll ever have to do it. It may well be. Whatever God gives you to do, do it with all your might because your Savior did and you want to be just like Him.
Because God created us with potential
You have the potential of doing great things for your Master. God created every human with enormous capacity, but unless you serve the Lord with fervency you'll never reach that capacity. The apostle Paul reminds us that Jesus Himself "gave some to be apostles, some prophets, some evangelists, and some pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ, till we all come to the unity of the faith and the knowledge of the Son of God, to be a perfect [complete] man, to the measure of the stature of the fullness of Christ; that we should no longer be children, tossed to and fro and carried about with every wind of doctrine...but...may grow up in all things into Him who is the Head--Christ" (Eph. 4:11-15).
What those verses tell us is simply this: Jesus Christ is our full potential. You and I need to become like Him in all things. When we are able to reflect His character in every dimension of our lives--His love, purity, honesty, etc.--then we've reached our full potential in Him. Unfortunately, that full potential remains a distant dream for so many Christians.
When you first came to trust Jesus as Savior, you were just a babe in Christ. You were just "getting into" this faith thing. You were just beginning to understand what heaven is all about. But if you've been a Christian for a year, 10 years, 40 years, you're not at the "getting in" place any more. You should be moving on, well on your way to growing up in Christ.
It's like the little boy who kept falling out of bed. His mother would carry him to his room and kiss him good night. But morning after morning she would find him sleeping on the floor alongside his bed. She wondered why until she noticed that the little guy never crawled completely into bed at night. Instead, he would throw one leg over the side of the bed and let the other dangle toward the floor. As soon as he rolled over, plop, he would fall on the floor. When his mother described the problem to him, the little boy correctly observed, "I guess I stay too close to the 'getting in' place."
That's so true with a great number of Christians. When they're saved, they stay too close to the "getting in" place. They remain spiritual babies all their lives. They feed on little Bible treats instead of enjoying a solid diet of the deep things of God's Word. They prefer spiritual junk food to a hearty meal. They are addicted to the spiritual equivalent of Gummi Bears, when they should be building strong spiritual bones by eating God's green beans.
That doesn't have to be the case, of course. What we need is to get back to the Bible and spend sufficient time in it to understand the deeper things of God's Word. And when we do, we find out that God created us with a potential that's far beyond where we are right now.
Because the time is limited
Why should we do everything we do for God with all our might? Why should we seize every available opportunity to be used of Him? Because the opportunity for service to God is only for a very limited time.
A day comes for every person when death shuts the door on all opportunities for service to the Lord. In Psalm 6:5 David laments, "For in death there is no remembrance of You; in the grave who will give You thanks?" And Paul urges, "Let us walk properly, as in the day, not in revelry or drunkenness, not in licentiousness and lewdness, not in strife and envy" (Rom. 13:13). Today, right now, is the day we need to do what God gives us to do because we don't know how many days we have left.
J. Allen Petersen wrote about a trip he and his wife took to the beach. As he was lying there he looked at his wife and said, "You know, honey, I'm 56. I'm middle-aged!" She replied, "How many men do you know who live to be over 112?"
How old are you today? Are you middle-aged or beyond? How long do you expect to live? And what do you know about tomorrow? What guarantees do you have that you'll have another 50 years or even 10 years to serve the Lord? You don't have those guarantees. That's why it's important that "whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you're going."
Here's that same pearl of wisdom said another way, by Jesus, "I must work the works of Him who sent Me while it is day; the night is coming when no one can work" (John 9:4). We have all eternity to enjoy the fruit of our labors here on earth, but we have only a few short hours before the sunset in which to work. We can't afford to wait. Whatever God calls and gifts us to do, we have to do it now and with all our might.
A personal response
Every morning when I get up I ask the Lord to help me do several things. First, I ask Him to help me live purely during the day--with clean hands and a pure heart. I don't think anything else I do is important if I'm not pure before God. Second, I ask Him to help me see everything I have to do today with an eternal perspective.
Many things clamor for my attention. There are lots of topics I could address on our daily Back to the Bible broadcast that would help you in time, but would they change you for eternity? Frankly, I'm not interested in those things that are for this time only. I know I have only a few short hours before sunset to do what God will enable me to do that's important for all eternity. That's why this pearl of wisdom is so important to me. Whatever my hand finds to do, I must do it well and I must do it now. Yesterday is like a canceled check. Tomorrow is a promissory note. Today is like ready cash. We must use this day wisely, for today is the most precious possession that we have.
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might." Don't procrastinate in serving the Lord, and don't ever serve Him in a wimpy manner. Halfhearted service is not only "not hearty," it's only barely alive. When you do for the Lord what He asks you to do in a halfhearted way, you're not living up to your potential in Christ.
So what is God asking you to do today? Is it helping make crafts for a Sunday school lesson? Is it teaching a Bible class or preparing a devotional for a family gathering? Is it supporting a missionary on the field? Is it praying for your pastor and your church? Is it telling your neighbor about the Lord Jesus? What does He want from you right now? No one can answer that question but you, and you must.
Likely, you already know what God wants you to do. The only question is, will you do it halfheartedly or wholeheartedly? Will you throw yourself into it? Will you give it the very best that you have? Will you do for God all that God wants you to do?
"Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with your might; for there is no work or device or knowledge or wisdom in the grave where you're going." That's one of God's priceless pearls of wisdom. Whatever God is impressing upon you to do today--do it now, do it with all your might. Who knows? You may have only today in which to do it.
Church historians tell us that the 18th-century saint Count Nikolaus Von Zinzendorf, founder of the Moravian Church, owed much of his religious zeal to the viewing of a picture of the crucifixion. Underneath was the inscription, "All this for thee; how much for Me!" Never again could he tarry in serving the Lord. Never again could he make just a halfhearted effort.
How about you?