Tidings for Tuesday

Nevertheless, to abide in the flesh is more needful for you. Philippians 1:24

Does God make mistakes? Some people think so when they look around the sitting room of a nursing home, and see the vacant faces of some of those old folks sitting in their wheelchairs. None of us wants to be left in such a state, and some people go so far as to say God errs in leaving those old folks alive when their usefulness and ability to function and relate to other people has vanished. On the other hand, we all know some people who were vibrant and productive and valuable contributors to society in general and a good help to the Lord’s people, but were suddenly called Home to Heaven by accident or illness. Of those people, some will say God erred in taking them away too soon. Even the apostle Paul, in today’s text, seems to have a question about what is best for him as he sees the end of his life approaching.

We know God makes no mistakes, of course. Take those unfunctioning folks in the seniors’ home, many of them are unsaved, and have ignored or rejected the Gospel. God is graciously keeping them in their bodies awhile longer to delay their departure for eternal punishment. But in the case of a Christian facing impending death, is it better if we live or die? Paul makes the case in our text that it is better for the other Christians that we abide in the flesh. But only God knows whether that is best for His great plan. Why is it better for the other Christians that you live awhile longer? Why is it better for them not to have to attend your funeral? If we were all like the apostle Paul, we could understand why. But we’re not.

No, we’re not all great preachers and teachers and pastors and guides. God has not given us all the prominent gifts and abilities. We can easily assume we are of little use to the Lord’s people. But as long as God leaves us in the flesh, we can take it from Him that He deems us useful for Himself and for His people. So, every day and at every opportunity, we should practice that usefulness. We should be kind and considerate, we should be supportive and encouraging, we should be faithful. The other saints really do need us.

God has given each of us a row to hoe in his great garden. Until he takes the hoe from our hands and presents us with a crown, let us make use of the hoe for His people. -Jim MacIntosh

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