It would seem to be a matter of no importance that a certain woman, whose name has been forgotten, dropped a tract in the way of a very bad man by the name of Richard Baxter. He picked up the tract and read it and it became the means of his salvation. After years, that man wrote a book entitled, “The Call to the Unconverted,” which was the means of bringing a multitude to God, among them Philip Doddridge. Philip Doddridge wrote a book called, “The Rise and Progress of Religion,” which brought thousands and tens of thousands into the kingdom of God, among them the great Wilberforce. Wilberforce wrote a book called, “A Practical View of Christianity,” which was the means of bringing a great multitude to Christ, among them Leigh Richmond. Leigh Richmond wrote a tract called, “The Dairyman’s Daughter,” which has been the means of the salvation of multitudes. And that tide of influence started from the fact that one Christian woman dropped a Christian tract in the way of Richard Baxter—the tide of influence rolling on through Richard Baxter, through Philip Doddridge, through William Wilberforce, through Leigh Richmond; on, on, on, forever, forever. So the seemingly insignificant events of this world seem after all to be the most momentous.
The Best Return For Your Investment!
We all have one thing of the utmost importance to invest—our lives! We may invest our time in the making of money, and in the end what do we get in return? We cannot take it with us for from dust we came and to dust we will return and our earthly treasure with it. Possibly we may invest in buildings, which will return to the earth from where they came. We may invest ourselves in physical pleasures but life is fleeting and with it the God-opportunities that are presented before us. There is only one place in which you may invest that will give you anything of eternal value and that is helping mankind fulfill their purpose and destiny in God.
If we invest in people our investment will continue to produce great dividends for us throughout eternity. For you touch the life of one person who in turn touches the lives of others who go forth touching the lives of hundreds if not thousands. The investment in human character is like an ever-widening ripple in the pond of eternity.
But this investment is not without its discouragements. In the parable of the sower, Matthew 13:3-8, Jesus tells us of the difficulties we will face. “Then he told them many things in parables, saying: “A farmer went out to sow his seed. As he was scattering the seed, some fell along the path, and the birds came and ate it up. Some fell on rocky places, where it did not have much soil. It sprang up quickly, because the soil was shallow. But when the sun came up, the plants were scorched, and they withered because they had no root. Other seed fell among thorns, which grew up and choked the plants. Still other seed fell on good soil, where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown.”
The work of investing into the lives of people, according to the parable of the sower, will often be very discouraging. Jesus tells us that three out of four of our efforts at getting a good harvest will fail. That’s seventy-five percent of our investment lost! But the good news is that the one seed fell on good soil where it produced a crop—a hundred, sixty or thirty times what was sown. Lets look at it in practical terms, thirty times is three thousand percent on your investment. Sixty times is six thousand percent and one hundred times is ten thousand percent. Wow! Jesus is telling us that though our investment in the lives of others will often be discouraging because the soil of fallen humanity will not allow the seed to grow, there will be times in which the seed will find fertile soil and a crop will be produced that will stagger our imagination.
It does not so much matter what we do but the way in which we do it that matters the most. If we meet the daily demands of life in a careless and slothful spirit, caring only to escape blame, to earn our wage, or to just get through this life so that we can receive our heavenly reward, what will have become of all the opportunities that God has laid out before us? Could it be that as we stand in heaven all the opportunities we either missed or made will pass before us in a long procession. Words spoken or an action done that touched a life for good or bad. Of course there will be impact of words not spoken, opportunities that were passed by, the results that would ripple down through the ages. I wonder if we will see the outcome of what could have been… if only…
Lois and I received a letter from a good friend that had regularly came and helped us in our outreaches in Philadelphia. She admitted in her letter a hesitation in her spirit that came before each trip to Philly in which she wondered if, “I (we) are making a difference?” That was a valid question and one that was asked by each of us more often than we would have liked to admit. Investing in the lives of a lost and confused humanity will test the hearts of each of us. God answered her hearts question with the first person she prayed for when the woman shared with her how much she has been blessed and touched and how she looked forward to our coming. The discouragement of seeing lives going from bad to worse can become very depressing if that was all you would see, but God in his mercy always seemed to send someone to encourage us with their testimony.
This reminded me of one particular Sunday morning, before we broke down the tent and packed everything up, we got into a circle to pray. As we began I noticed out of the corner of my eye a woman coming into the tent. For a second I didn’t recognize her but then I realized that I had seen her throughout the day on Saturday as she carried sacks and sacks of groceries to the houses around the community and brought people to the tent for us to minister God’s love. But today she was all dressed up in her ‘Sunday Going To Meeting’ clothes. As she came up we all made room for her in the circle, she looked at each one of us and began to speak and as she did the Holiness of God came into the tent. The words she spoke had a profound impact on each one of us that morning and by the time she finished there was not a dry eye in the crowd. I wish I could remember everything she said that day but there was one recurring line she used over and over as she spoke of the people that she knew who were being affected by our ministry in the park, “You don’t know how much this means to us, you just don’t know!”
Influences That Will Never Stop
An almost unknown church-school teacher invested some interest and prayer in a youth named Moody, and Moody, among the hundred thousand that he led into the new life, touched Sherwood Eddy. Among the thousands whom Eddy touched were three youths in India—one became Bishop Azariah, the first Indian Anglican bishop, who led the most remarkable mass movement in India of that day; another K. T. Paul who was for many years head of the YMCA in India and the third was Santiago, one of the most rarely beautiful Christian souls a person could ever meet. How much percentage did the church-school teacher get out of his investment of time and interest in young D. L. Moody? Three thousand, six thousand, ten thousand per cent? More than that! He started influences that will never stop. There is are two places where you can invest life and money and not lose it—loving God and loving people! (Matt:22, 36-40)
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