1 Thessalonians 3:8 For now we really live, since you are standing firm in the Lord.
It’s fascinating to me that Greek seems to have the same sort of idiom that Japanese does, but English doesn’t, at least as a common expression. It’s an idiom that means “a reason to live.” Within the past year I’ve read an American article that talked about what a valuable concept this was, as commonly expressed in Japanese. The whole idea is something that gives meaning to living, enjoyment and hope. Everyone needs it, and many people seem sadly to lack anything of the sort. For anyone in Christian ministry, Paul’s statement rings very true. Knowing that you have had a positive impact, that people are walking in fellowship with Jesus Christ because of your input into their lives, can get you through some really dark times. Frankly, I don’t remember this being mentioned, much less taught explicitly, when I was in seminary. Institutionalized religion tends to be all about orthodoxy and numbers, when Jesus came into this world for people. Accuracy in our understanding of God’s truth is important, certainly, but people can be theologically right and spiritually dead. We do rejoice when many people turn to the Lord, but Jesus focused His ministry on 12 people, and one of those was a traitor. In our quest for bigness, we tend to lose sight of the individual and their relationship to our very singular Lord. I am again reminded of John’s statement that “It has given me great joy to find some of your children walking in the truth, just as the Father commanded us. (2 John 1:4, emphasis added) Not everyone is good soil, (Luke 8:4-15) but we rejoice in whatever crop we get.
This is very understandable to me right now because we are attempting our first real vegetable garden since coming to Omura. The soil was not good, but we removed a lot of rocks and tilled in 150kg of fertilizer. We spread mulching plastic, poked holes and planted seeds, watered, and waited. Not everything has come up, but a lot has, and it’s exciting. Spiritually, over the past 37 years we have done much the same thing. The “germination rate” is notoriously low in Japan, so we have rejoiced at every sign of green. We have had some that seemed to flourish, but then produced no fruit, much like the famous Japanese flowering cherry trees. However, we have had some who have indeed really “gotten it,” and they give us hope and encouragement to keep going. It is possible, and we pray, that some of the seed we have planted has born good fruit where we haven’t seen it. It is God’s crop, after all, and it is His business who gets to harvest it. However, results we can see are certainly encouraging.
Father, thank You for this reminder. Thank You for the harvest workers You have recently sent to us. (Luke 10:2) May we indeed listen to Your instructions as to how to till, how to plant, how to water, and how to harvest, so that we may have the harvest that You desire, for Your glory. Thank You. Hallelujah!