IF ONLY

If only I were twenty years younger I would be able to really make a difference in the world for good. If only I had been born into a wealthy family I would be able to make a difference for good in the world. If only I were healthier I could do so much more than I am now capable of doing. If only taxes weren’t so I high could start a business of my own. If only more people would purchase and read the books I’ve written I would be better able to affect the thinking of people all over.

“If only” is a big part of many sentences that are written. Almost every time it is used it serves as an excuse for how I’m doing in life. It is a way of blaming either someone else for my failures or some aspect of my life for my failures. But the truth is there are many who are older than I am who are doing powerful things that make for a better world. There are people in worse health than I am who do amazing things every day of their lives for good. There are many who grew up with less wealth than I did who’re making a huge difference for good in the world. The point is that what ever excuse I offer for doing nothing it is just that, an empty excuse.

Think of some examples in the Bible of people who overcame all kinds of issues to do great things in the world. Moses was eighty years old and had been out of circulation for forty years when God called him to lead his people out of Egyptian bondage into a land of promise. Jeremiah was just a boy when God called him as a prophet to tell the Nation of Judah that their sin was leading to their complete destruction. The people hated his message and hated him for presenting it. Yet he continued to preach the word of God and try to call the people back to what was right. Esther was a young Jewish girl orphaned by parents and brought up by her cousin in the Persian Empire. She became the queen of the empire and God used her as the means to save the Jews from being annihilated. Daniel was kidnapped by the Babylonians in his early teen years and likely suffered castration as a young man. Yet He became one of the most respected prophets of God. He spent his whole life as a Jew living in a foreign land and working for foreign rulers. At first it was Babylon, then Persia. But he was always faithful to God and respected as a man of wisdom. The apostle Paul and his young friend Timothy were both subject to physical problems. We don’t know what the physical problem was that afflicted Paul. We do know that Timothy had a stomach problem that affected him often. Paul told Timothy to take a little wine for his stomach problem. Paul prayed for God to take away his thorn in the flesh. He prayed about it three different times. But God’s answer was “No”. He told Paul that His strength was perfected through weakness. From then on Paul gloried in his infirmities knowing that when he was weak was when he was strong. It may well be the case that the reason Luke became Paul’s constant companion was so that he as the physician could take care of Paul on a regular basis. Jesus chose Matthew the tax collector to be one of the apostles and one who would pen one of the gospel accounts. As a tax collector he was in the most hated class of people among the Jews. He was seen as a traitor to the nation because he worked for the Romans. Yet Jesus wanted him as one of the insiders to tell his story to the world. What is even more amazing is that Matthew’s gospel account was written primarily for the Jews.

What stands out from all these examples is that these people could easily have taken our “If only” tactic and excused themselves from being able to make a difference for God. But God called them to leave the excuses behind and just do what He called them to do. If we really want to be the servants God calls us to be we too need to get the “If only’s” out of our mind and out of our mouth. Look past the excuses and be all that you can be for God and for the good of all.

About leoninlittlerock

Preaching minister for Central church of Christ in Little Rock. Author of over 20 books including: When a Loved one Dies, Spiritual Development, Skid Marks on the Family Drive, Challenges in the church, To Know Christ and A Drink of Living Water.
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