1996-10-14 - The Limitations of life
Colossians 4:18, "Remember my bonds" (imprisonment)
I am reminded of the Clint Eastwood line in one of his movies, when talking with his police captain and the captain says, "I've been on the force for 25 years and I've never taken my gun out of its holster" and Eastwood replies, "A man's got to know his limitations". This is called theology, Hollywood style. However, it is a true statement for all of us. We have limitations and we must be aware of them. There is not one of us who does not in some way feel limited so that we cannot quite accomplish all that we desire to do. Continually we discover that the realization of our dreams, the attainment of our aspirations, is passing us by the wayside. The professional is as hemmed in by engagements as the prisoner is by the walls of his cell. Hardly a day should elapse without our feeling needful to come to God, acknowledge the poor quality of our works, and plead His grace and mercy that He would enable us to do better with the work that we bring Him saying, "Remember my bonds"
John Wesley had a view of church members that he summed up as, "at work, all at work, and always at work". Taking this principal too far one minister, with more zeal than wisdom, proclaimed that those who were connected with the church and who did not engage in a certain kind of work were unworthy to be called Christians. I do not deny that usefulness is a good thing. However, usefulness is not the whole of Christianity. Holiness is better. Therefore, whatever be the limits of our condition, whether they are from poverty, sickness, business, or home duties, accept them as from God. They are no disgrace to you. Do all that you can in service to Christ, but worry not that you can do no more. In fact, remember, that you will best succeed in doing something beyond them, by doing all you can with the limitations that God has given you.
In addition remember that Paul, even in bonds, was still useful. The soldier to whom he was chained was changed every four hours and no doubt Paul would converse with them. Imagine how Paul must have directed the conversation. What do you think was meant when Paul says, "I want you to know, brethren, that my circumstances have turned out for the greater progress of the gospel, so that my imprisonment in Christ has become known throughout the whole praetorian guard"? (Phil. 1: 12, 13) Paul was using his circumstances to work for Christ, as best he could. There is much in this to encourage us. We never lose in the long run by giving ourselves to be bound to the work that is closest to us.
Take courage! Do the little that you can within your sphere and God may make it great. Work at that which is within the area of your bonds and Christ may surprise you and carry it far beyond the limits of your circle. It is true you may be bound, you may have limitations, but He whom you serve is not bound and has no limitations. So that which you put into His hand may be used in ways you cannot ever imagine.
Soli Deo Gloria,