“But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self. For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.”
(1 Corinthians 4:3-4)
In April, 2000 I gave my first ever public lecture. The topic was evolution vs creation. My stage-fright was great but God’s grace was greater. I was able to communicate important truth to a huge turnout of people. That special night, which God used to move at least one person to faith, marked the beginning of my public ministry. Though I studied hard for that lecture, there was much more I needed to learn. One of the most important lessons came through my good friend, John Plantz, whom I met two years later. John was a full-time missionary with The Friends of Israel Gospel Ministry and he was (and is) one of the sincerest, godliest men I have ever met. John gently reminded me that, while God’s servants ought to recognize and appreciate the importance of their ministry work, they shouldn’t take themselves too seriously. He shared with me the liberation he felt when he realized that the work he was doing was in fact God’s work. It is God who works in and through His ministers. The great apostle Paul declared, “For it is God which worketh in you both to will and to do of his good pleasure” (Philippians 2:13). Certainly we ought to strive for perfection in all we do (Matthew 5:48). Nevertheless, we needn’t be absolutely devastated into paralysis and depression whenever we fall short of that lofty goal. There will be times when we say the wrong things, even as Paul did (Acts 23:1-5, cf John 18:22-23). There will be times when we behave improperly, even as Peter and Mark did (Galatians 2:11-14; Acts 13:13; 15:36-38). God knew what He was doing when He enlisted them (and us!) into His service; He knows very well He is working with imperfection. Despite our human frailties and failings, our born-again hearts sincerely love the God Who loved us first; our regenerated minds seek for ways to serve Him Who has shown such favor to His fallen image-bearers. Our sincere service, despite its imperfections, is still “wrought in God” (John 3:21). Despite his struggles with sin in his flesh, Paul finished the work he was called to in spectacular fashion (Romans 7:15-25; 2 Timothy 4:6-8). Despite Peter’s past waffling, he too steadfastly honored the Savior exactly as predicted (John 21:17-19). Similarly, despite Mark’s past indiscretion, God used him to write the second Gospel, which, being part of the church’s unshakable foundation, is of inestimable value. In these examples we see the cause of Christ advanced despite human imperfection. May this mediation encourage our hearts to keep striving to serve God in the world as faithful ambassadors of Christ (2 Corinthians 5:20), knowing that the cause of Christ will continue to advance, by God’s grace and through our efforts, despite our faults and failings, and this to the glory of God Almighty. Hallelujah!