As a little boy, I learnt the proverb “a stitch in time saves nine” from my mother. Being a boy, rough and ready, always pulling threads or hooking my jersey, mom would say that to me. So many years later I find that I have not learnt that lesson yet! About two weeks back we purchased some plants and ground cover for our garden. Most likely too many were purchased because, with my other garden responsibilities, house duties and ministry preparations, I never got around to planting some ground cover. The sad result is that, even though watered regularly, with the heat we are having, some ground cover has started to shrink and wither somewhat.
Today I performed the “rescue mission”. The idea is to try and save some of the plants. I removed them from their plastic pots, separated the individual plants and removed the extra roots. I then prepared the “rooms”, removing the weeds, loosening the soil, adding compost … working it into the soil. I then planted the ground cover … adding in more compost and water mixed plant food before drenching it with a good watering. Will it work? I certainly hope so. If it does not, then I have certainly not learnt that “a stitch in time saves nine”. What I ought to have done was to purchase less pots of ground cover and plant them as soon as possible. In this way, I would not potentially lose the plants.
Thinking of “a stitch in time saves nine” … and holding to it could help extensively when it comes to Spiritual Gifts and Ministry as a Christian. Be it not sharing the gospel or not exercising spiritual gifts will most likely cause serious losses to the Kingdom, without you even realizing it. Take sharing the gospel … Jesus instructed His disciples and the disciples taught this to the Christian Church:
Mat 28:18 All authority in heaven and on earth has been given to me. 19 Therefore go and make disciples of all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father and of the Son and of the Holy Spirit, 20 and teaching them to obey everything I have commanded you. And surely I am with you always, to the very end of the age.
Ac 1:8 But you will receive power when the Holy Spirit comes on you; and you will be my witnesses in Jerusalem, and in all Judea and Samaria, and to the ends of the earth.
Why would anyone need to share the gospel with others? The answer is actually very plain! No gospel, no knowledge of Jesus, no heaven. Or put bluntly … no gospel, no Jesus, welcome to hell. Jesus came to this planet on a rescue mission. His intention is that His blood sacrifice for pardon, cleansing and salvation is available to anyone and everyone who repents and believes. That is the method of escaping hell. Jesus had compassion on lost souls. He teaches us to love the lost and to pray for them. When we do, we will find we are bound to share the gospel with them so that they might hear, believe and be saved. In other words, love drives the gospel so that people might escape hell and punishment! Remember the rich man in Luke 16? It was far too late once in hell to warn his brothers to avoid the punishment he was suffering. It was too late. There was time for him to avoid hell and time to tell his brothers how to avoid hell … and once he died it was too late. That is what I mean by “a stitch in time saves nine”. Pick up that gospel stitch and save souls.
The concept of … “if only I” … is another … “a stitch in time saves nine”. How often could you have helped a brother or sister in Christ … or perhaps someone who is not a Christian … and you turned away. Maybe you were not interested or maybe lazy … or maybe you wanted to punish the person or teach them a lesson … only to realise when it’s too late that you could have and should have met their needs with a helping hand. The Good Samaritan is a good example of doing what he could. He could have ignored … after all he was a Samaritan … classed as a ‘dog’, unclean … yet he stopped and went the extra mile in helping (Luke 10:25-37). Jesus asked his audience:
Lk 10:36 “Which of these three do you think was a neighbor to the man who fell into the hands of robbers?”
Look who gets the answer correct:
LK 10:37 The expert in the law replied, “The one who had mercy on him.”
He was likely very shocked with the answer Jesus gave Jesus told him, “Go and do likewise.”
You need to be the Good Samaritan and be the neighbor to those in need … irrespective who it is … or you will be saying in shame and sadness … “if only I did”.
As a retired pastor, I look back on my ministry and realise I did far more than was expected of me. A pastor has a single job description “pastor/teacher/shepherd the flock”, yet far too often most Christians in a church do not exercise their spiritual gift mix resulting in either that ministry does not happen or the pastor does what needs to be done to hold things together. I have heard members say, “Who, me? I don’t have those abilities. I can’t.” Or, “I’m far too busy with the family, the home, the garden, the children … etc. to be able to do that!” I’m sure we can all say that. Paul writes under inspiration:
1Co 12:7 Now to each one the manifestation of the Spirit is given for the common good.
Ro 12:5 sS in Christ we who are many form one body, and each member belongs to all the others. 6 We have different gifts, according to the grace given us.
In Romans we read “to each one” and in 1 Corinthians we read “we have” and that “each member belongs to all the others”. Can we really say, “I don’t have those abilities; I can’t; I’m too busy; if only I did?” Yet because we don’t exercise our spiritual gifts, the church suffers with ministries not being done and the pastor tends to be overworked … and none of these are loving. Remember … “a stitch in time saves nine”.
Dear God, You thought of everything to make the church work perfectly, smoothly and achieve the greatest impact, yet I have not fulfilled my role and duties as you gifted me. Forgive me and help me to do better. Amen.