I love to read biographies of followers of Jesus. My heart has been challenged and motivated as I have read of their forward progress for Jesus. So the question that I am asking is this, “What is different between them and those that accomplish little to nothing?”
Now, I want us to be careful here. It is easy to use the culture’s values in evaluating success, bigger and better. The culture is enamored with size of buildings, size of congregations, size of offerings. The culture’s view of success is always about number and almost always about drawing attention to a human being. The Biblical definition of success is very different. A student of the Bible learns very quickly that outward results can be misleading. The Biblical definition of success is simply, active faithfulness. I use the word active for emphasis, because genuine faithfulness is always action driven.
This past week as I was studying Ecclesiastes 11 King Solomon encourages God’s people to take risks. You can listen to the message here “Making My Life an Adventure”. Let me share two of Solomon’s challenges to followers of Jesus. The first is, take wise risks. I say wise, because not every risk is wise, nor should a risk be taken just for the sake of taking a risk. Solomon’s point is that because of your relationship with God, and the unpredictability of life, you need to take risks. Why? because God has your back and it you don’t take a risk nothing will happen. He writes, “Cast your bread upon the waters, for you will find it after many days.” (Ecclesiastes 11:1) It seems as if Solomon is using a figure of speech that his audience would have understood. It is believed that he is referring to a merchant sending his grain to different markets. Shipping wheat, or goods, to other markets would have involved a huge risk in those days. There are those that would avoid taking this risk because of these threats. Yet, Solomon’s advice is that bad things happen, so take the risk anyways. I need you to take a moment to think of all the blessings in your life that happened because you took a risk. It is a risk to ask a gal on a date. Yes, she might say, “No”. I am sure glad that I took that risk. If you have pursued a career, you have taken a risk. If you have children you have taken a risk. Where would you be in life if you did not take any risks? The same is true for following Jesus.
Solomon touches on a second aspect of taking risks. Diversify your risks, do not put all your proverbial eggs in one basket! He writes, “Give a portion to seven, or even to eight, for you know not what disaster may happen on earth.” (Ecclesiastes 11:2) He continues on focusing on the merchant. He is encouraging us to diversify. There are bad things that happen. If all his wheat was on one ship and it sunk, he is sunk! The challenge here is letting God work. I have been learning this first as a pastor, but especially as a church planter. God has often allowed me to start down one path but then directed me, and our church, in a different direction. We have seen that with the church itself and even in different ministries. If I get stuck on this happening a certain way, which I have done in the past, I miss the windows of opportunity that God sends. This is a saying, “It is better to have loved and lost then to never have loved at all.” I encourage everyone I can, when faced with an opportunity, to prayerfully go for it. Why? Because if you never try, you will never know what could have happened. I talk to people all the time that allow their fear of failure, the cost of taking a risk, to keep them from following a God given adventure.
So how about you? Are you sitting around doing nothing because of all the things that could go wrong? Solomon is challenging us to get off the couch, get out of the house and go on an adventure for Jesus! So instead of living in the past, make a new start by embracing the adventure that Jesus has for you. “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand, that we should walk in them.” (Ephesians 2:10)
-Pastor Joe Parkinson