About Last, but Not…Well, Last AND Least
On the day of the firstfruits, my biggest temptation was to grab a whole handful of big, delicious berries and fill up my basket in a hurry. Those big clusters of ripeness just made me want to grab them by the fistful. I soon learned to be a bit more discerning, though. What I didn’t see, at first, was that in the middle of those clusters were some tiny white berries, as yet barely exposed to the sun and needing several more days, even a week or two, perhaps, to mature into usefulness for pies, jams, bowls of cereal and ice cream. Picked in the big cluster before their time, they would yet be hard, bitter and difficult to digest.
You know where I’m going. In every congregation there are those who are young and immature in the faith. Before they really become useful to the church, they need more exposure to the Son. They need a little time to grow. They need a little extra attention when the faithful are being productive. One day they will be ready to be useful. But for now, they just need to grow. Hands that are busy in the “bush” need to take special care not to make these young ones fall before they reach maturity. Hands need to be careful to preserve the potential of those who are still growing.
How do we identify those who are immature, perhaps spiritually needy, or in danger of falling? Here are some catch-phrases that might be typical of those who are not yet of age, spiritually:
“We want to be sure our needs are being met.”
“Let me tell you what THEY are doing down at MY church.”
“When I was sick, only two people even visited me.”
“I didn’t get too much out of that service.”
“We need to go somewhere that has lots of teenagers.”
“I know the Bible says__________, but I just don’t think God would…”
“I hope they hire a preacher who is in his thirties like we are.”
“That sermon was pretty good, but it was too long.”
“We’ve got to get on the road, so we won’t be staying for class.”
“ I’ll do it if you can’t find anyone else.”
“If we join your church, do we have to attend on Wednesday nights?”
“ I hope my kids don’t have to miss the gospel meeting. Maybe their games will be over by then.”
The list could go on, but you can see that these types of statements reveal a heart that has yet to grow to be more concerned about the well-being of others than self. We’ve all seen this wonderful transformation to unselfishness occur in the lives of friends who are in the Book. Sometimes personal trials make people more cognizant about the needs of others. Sometimes our genteel treatment of those yet young in the faith, along with our prayers can make the difference.
Let’s remember that growth occurs at different rates and let’s make every effort to preserve the potential of young and growing members. Often that will mean deferring our own plans or even depleting our cash-on-hand. But remember, they will mature, and when we are patient and gentle, productivity for the greatest Cause on earth will be multiplied.