The Things of God
There is an incident in the journey of Israel that speaks a wise warning to us, the Church, in this hour. The first verse of Joshua seven begins this way: (I like the way the NLT says it.) “But Israel was unfaithful concerning the things set apart for the Lord.”
The word translated “set apart” in the Hebrew means “an irrevocable giving”. In other words, it can never be changed. There are things in the Church that belong to God irrevocably. They are His and they must be given to Him.
Israel suffered defeat not because the entire nation broke covenant with God by stealing the sacred things, but because one man did so. One individual’s disobedience brought suffering to the entire nation.
I understand fully that we now live under grace. But grace does not give us the license to disobey, rather it gives us the license to obey. Those who do unrighteous things are unrighteous, John says.
There are things in the Church that belong to God and must be given to Him—the Church must be faithful to return them to God. Things such as love, faith, prayer, worship, communion, the gifts of the Spirit, the Great Commission, and giving, to name a few, belong to God. They are sacred to Him. And as such, must be given back to Him. These sacred things are far more important than numerical and financial growth. We owe them to God. And, as church leaders, we will give an account to God for them.
If they are not given to God faithfully, our churches will suffer defeats.
Pastor, please remember, you are there not primarily to grow a big church but to faithfully shepherd God’s people. That is why your office in the body of Christ is declared by God to be that of Pastor (Shepherd), not builder or multiplier.
God named you what you are to be—Pastor—a shepherd over God’s flock. If, as pastors, we faithfully do that, then Jesus, who is the Builder of the Church, will build it and the sheep will multiply. But if we take from God the sacred things and do not ensure they are returned to Him, then we are failing as shepherds.
I realize these are the simple, basic, plain vanilla things that may seem less exciting and spectacular than other things. We all know about these things. But knowing and doing are not the same thing.
Pastor, lead your church in the basic things. See to it that they are the focus of your church. Teach them to your people and see to it that above all, your focus and your church’s focus are on the basics. Let others follow after “new things”, but you follow those things on which the Church of Jesus Christ is built. These wonderful, beautiful, powerful things are sacred to God and they are given to the Church as a sacred trust. We must use them faithfully, not conveniently.
As Pastor, you make sure the sacred things are kept central. Do not allow side issues to become the main things. That is a trap too many pastors unwittingly fall into. Do not focus on growing your church numerically, rather focus on growing it spiritually. Build the people and the Lord Jesus will build the church. Make your church into a house of love, joy, prayer, worship, faith, giving, signs, wonders, and miracles. Fill the house with a passion for God, a compassion for the lost, and a genuine love for one another. If you do, it will be noised abroad that Jesus is in your house.
Remember, to the faithful God shows Himself faithful. So faithfully give back to God the wonderful, sacred treasures of the Church. Then leave the results in the hands of God.