The Bottom Line
The Main Thing
Through the years, I’ve lost sleep over a lot of things: people who haven’t yet made decisions for Christ, preparations for evangelistic meetings, sermon preparation. But by God’s grace, I haven’t once lain awake about finances—not even in tough times—because I’ve noticed that if you stick with the main thing, God seems to stick right by you.
It’s easy to get distracted, especially if you’re a “Type A” like me. Visit my library sometime and you’ll find hundreds—no, thousands—of volumes with dog-eared bookmarks permanently housed about a third of the way from the back covers. Long before I finish one book, the next one grabs my attention. It’s great for finding sermon illustrations, but not when it comes to guiding a ministry.
“For I determined not to know anything among you,” Paul told the Corinthian church, “except Jesus Christ and Him crucified” (1 Cor. 2:2). There were all sorts of things that Paul could have pontificated on. He’d trained at the feet of Gamaliel and memorized the finest arguments about the most contentious philosophical issues of his day. But he never lost sight of the main thing: bringing the gospel to a lost world.
There’s only one thing that God has asked the church to do, even when times are tough: to seek and to save the lost as Jesus did. When the economy slows and budgets get tighter, minds drift to revenues and fundraising. But over the years, I’ve noticed something interesting. Those who stubbornly focus on the main thing always seem to have the smile of God over what they do. And those who focus on something else seldom survive.
It doesn’t mean that things won’t get rough once in a while. In fact, God uses tough times to accomplish two things: (1) to bring lost sheep back into the fold, and (2) to hone our characters so we can recapture our original faith and trust. If our work were easy—completely worry free—we would lose the opportunity to grow.
“If you will go to work as Christ designs that His disciples shall, and win souls for Him,” we’ve been counseled, “you will feel the need of a deeper experience and a greater knowledge in divine things, and will hunger and thirst after righteousness. You will plead, and your faith will be strengthened, and your soul will drink deeper drafts at the well of salvation. Encountering opposition and trials will drive you to the Bible and prayer. You will grow in grace and the knowledge of Christ, and will develop a rich experience” (Steps to Christ , p. 80).
God did not call us to create committees, develop policy, make money or establish our reputations. He called us to win souls. Once in a while God allows us to experience just enough difficulty to sharpen our focus and reignite the passion we had when we first started working for Him. Think of tough times as an opportunity to shed those things that actually get in the way of achieving God’s purposes. Worry about what God has asked you to do, and let Him worry about the finances.
Take out a sheet of paper, and write down the main thing. Jot down Matthew 28:18-20, Acts 1:8, 2 Corinthians 5:17,18, or Revelation 14:6–12 underneath your “main thing.” Hang it in a prominent place, and make that main thing the guiding principle of every action or decision you make in God’s service.