Consider the Source

In writing of the Paul’s ministry today, Oswald Chambers notes that the source of Paul’s ministry was not love for men, but love for Jesus Christ, or, if you will, love.

“If we are devoted to the cause of humanity, we shall soon be crushed and broken-hearted, for we shall often meet with more ingratitude from men than we would from a dog. But if your motive is love to God, no ingratitude can hinder us from serving our fellow men.”

I am reminded in this of a mission trip in Honduras years ago.  We worked hard all week to improve a single structure in a small town.  On the last day there, dog-tired and walking over a hill, I looked out and saw hundreds of similar structures needing similar work, and a feeling of hopelessness, a feeling that what I had done that week was insignificant, washed over me.  It occurs to me that this is what Paul, and Chambers, are trying to pass along, that there is danger in measuring success in human terms, by either a result or a response.  The efforts to improve the single structure in Honduras did not “fix” the others.  But that misses the point.  And the point (at least the point as to me) is really not even if the one structure was improved.  I will likely never see that structure again, never benefit physically from its improvement.  In our lives, the person we are moved to help may not appreciate the effort, and may not even be aware of our involvement.  Sometimes our well-intentioned efforts may “fail.”   But if love is our motive, if it is the source that fuels our action, then there is success no matter the result.

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