Please, stop talking

1 Peter 4:11  If anyone speaks, it should be as one who speaks God’s words; if anyone serves, it should be from the strength God provides, so that God may be glorified through Jesus Christ in everything. To Him belong the glory and the power forever and ever. Amen. 

Have you ever met a person who loves to talk?  Now I don’t mean the average person who likes a good conversation.  I am speaking of the person who seems to love the sound of their own voice.  Their conversations consist of them talking and you listening.  Now maybe you are thinking, “That’s weird, I don’t know anybody like that.  In fact, most people I talk to don’t say much.”  If that’s the case, you may be that person!  Shut it down, friend.  Shut it down.

Before we start talking, we need to evaluate what’s coming out of our mouths.  Before we start doing, we need to look at why we are doing it.  Peter tells us that the words coming out of our mouth should be God’s words.  He says that our service, our doing, should be from the strength God provides.  You see, when we blab our lips with our own thoughts, we just get worn out.  When we serve without Him, we grow weary.  But when He is the drive behind what we do, we find endurance and strength.  In turn, we give life to others and glory to Him.

That’s the kind of life we are called to live, a life that glorifies the Lord with our words and our actions.  So I am asking you today: please, stop talking.  And stop doing, too.  Get His heart, His words, and His strength.  Once you have that, you can talk all you want.  You can serve with the right heart and not get burned out.  We ought to be bringing glory to Christ Jesus in our words and our actions so that others may find life.  Give it a try today and see what happens.  Don’t just think before you speak and do – set your heart on speaking His words and extending His hands to the world around you. 

Good advice, bad advice

1 Kings 12:6-7  Then King Rehoboam consulted with the elders who had served his father Solomon when he was alive, asking, “How do you advise me to respond to these people? ” They replied, “Today if you will be a servant to these people and serve them, and if you respond to them by speaking kind words to them, they will be your servants forever.” 

King Rehoboam had a choice.  You see his father became a heavy in the latter days of his life.  So the people came to the new king and asked him to let up a bit.  They asked him to be nice to them and treat them well.  So like a good king, he asked his advisors what he should do.  Verse 7 is the response of the elders.  They said he should serve the people.  But that didn’t sound too exciting to the king, so he asked his buddies for some advice.

Now there are two big takeaways here in this story.  The first is that we ought to be mindful of who are asking advice from.  Rehoboam decided to take the advice of his buddies over the advice of the elders.  Because of it, he lost the throne.  It was bad advice: they told him to be more mean!  Sometimes we start asking around for advice until we find someone who agrees with us.  Just because our buddies agree with us, doesn’t make them right.  So if you are going to ask for advice from someone, make sure it is someone who has a clue.  Make sure it is someone with wisdom who is willing to give you the truth regardless of your opinions and feelings.

Secondly, there’s this whole issue around servant leadership.  The wise ones told the king that the best leader is one who sees his position of authority as a means to serve others.  I happen to completely agree with those elders.  He should have listened!  Our greatest opportunity as a leader is to enable others to reach their full potential.  If we can do that, everyone will succeed.  A leader has to see beyond what he wants out of his people.  He needs to serve his people and help them be their best.  He needs to win their hearts if he is going to win their allegiance.  And that happens when a leader is willing to be a servant.

A Working Man

Ruth 3:1-2 1 One day Naomi her mother-in-law said to her [Ruth], “My daughter, should I not try to find a home for you, where you will be well provided for? 2 Is not Boaz, with whose servant girls you have been, a kinsman of ours? Tonight he will be winnowing barley on the threshing floor. 3 Wash and perfume yourself, and put on your best clothes. Then go down to the threshing floor, but don’t let him know you are there until he has finished eating and drinking. 4 When he lies down, note the place where he is lying. Then go and uncover his feet and lie down. He will tell you what to do.”

In today’s passage, we have quite the unique marriage proposal.  When I proposed to my wife, I knelt down on one knee and asked her to marry me.  Ruth uncovered Boaz’ feet.  Does this seem strange to anyone but me?  Apparently it wasn’t strange in those times.  In fact, uncovering a man’s feet while he was sleeping was a customary way to ask him to marry you.  Okay, then. So Ruth proposes to Boaz.  As fascinating as this is, I was struck today not by what she asked him, but by what he was doing and where he was at.

First let me tell you a little story from my past.  I used to work in retail management.  I had lots of people that worked for me.  In fact, I was second in charge at the stores I worked at.  So when a dirty job needed to be done, I had plenty of people to ask.   One evening, it was reported to me that someone had thrown up in the men’s restroom. (Note to self: don’t blog while eating breakfast).  There was a young lady, a high school student, on duty that night and I asked her to clean up the mess in the men’s restroom.  That instruction alone freaked her out so she timidly approached the scene.  When she arrived, it was her worst nightmare – vomit.  She had a very sensitive gag reflex and just about added to the mess on the floor.  She came to me with all due respect and said, “I’m sorry, I can’t do it.”  She said she understood if I had to ask her to quit her job for not following instructions, but she just couldn’t do it.  Now what?  Well, I decided to just clean it up myself.

That story came to mind today as I was reading this passage.  I didn’t do anything special or extraordinary.  I just did what a leader should do, which is be willing to participate in the hard work.  And this is what struck me about Boaz today.  He had lots of people working for him.  He had workers and he had servants.  Yet he was out winnowing the barley with his own hands.  He was there not just to give instructions, but he was there to work.  He was there to serve.

It’s the same thing that Jesus did.  He came not just to give instructions; he came to work.  He came to get a job done.  He came to serve.  And He did all that He came to do.  He ministered to the most unlovable – he healed the sick and served the poor.  He washed His disciples stinky feet.  He labored on the cross and defeated the powers of darkness, all  with His own two hands.  Yes, Jesus was a working man.  He still is a working man.  And I am ever thankful that He is still working on me.