Here we were with forty acres of hay on the ground, and minus one tractor.
The phone call from my co-worker went something like this. “Hello.” “The tractor quit.” “What do you mean the tractor quit?” “Just what I said; the tractor quit.” “Well, can you get it running?” “I don’t think so.” “Why?” “There’s a big hole in the side of engine!” “What do mean there’s a big hole in the side of the engine???” “Just what I said; there’s a big hole in the side of the engine.”
From this point, the conversation became very one-sided. It consisted of my accusing him of neglect, abuse, and many more descriptive terms that was my way of exclaiming, “This is all your fault!”
Not long after hanging the phone up, throwing it across the parking lot, then retrieving it, my wife called. She was with my co-worker in the field. She asked, “Didn’t you just change the oil in this tractor?”
And then I remembered. I had drained the oil, replaced the filter, put the plug back in… and became occupied with something else. I had not put oil back in the tractor.
Thinking pretty badly of me for the way I treated my co-worker? Stick around, you’ll think worse. Because, you see, this natural ability to always assume someone else is at fault… well, comes naturally.
As bad as this was, especially the cost of repairs, it doesn’t compare with how I do the same thing as a Christian. There’s always something or someone to blame, when the problem may be much closer to home. Consider one of my favorite complaints within the church…
“There’s so much to do, and not enough willing workers. Too many just want to come and sit.”
As usual, Jesus’ instruction differs greatly from my accusative attitude. One day, wanting to teach His disciples, He pointed to a field and said, “Look, the harvest is ready.” He continued, “but unfortunately, there’s very few out there harvesting.” At this point, I’m sure the disciples would have loved for Jesus to instruct them to go into the cities and chastise the residents for their lazy attitudes. But He didn’t.
Rather than dwell on the problem, Jesus said, “Pray that the Lord will send workers into His harvest.” Notice that His instruction was to pray, not cast blame, or even complain. Matthew 9
On another occasion, Jesus was instructing Peter about the ministry he would be responsible for. Peter was more concerned with what Jesus was going to have John do.
Jesus stopped Peter’s imitation of me, and said, “What is it to you if I will that he tarry until I return, you follow Me.” Again, notice that Peter was instructed to get his eyes off others, and firmly on Him. John 21
At least two points can be drawn from these passages that I should readily take to heart. First, it is God’s work; His field. My responsibility, in this regard, is to pray. And not my common surface level, falling asleep prayers. Prayers that avail much. Second, I have been given tasks to take care of. One of those tasks is not to concern myself with whether others are performing their tasks. When I worry myself with the performance of others, I am questioning whether God can take care of His own garden.
But how about my personal tasks? The often lax work ethic of our culture makes it relatively easy to place myself on a pedestal where I should not be. The slightest of effort to serve seems magnified when so many may refuse to. But I should not allow this to puff up my level of pride. I should consider this my reasonable service.
And equally important, I need to remember. How easily I seem to forget where I came from. I need to remember, I am not the solution; I am the problem. I’m the one who left the oil out of the engine. I’m the sinful man who cost our Lord and Savior His life. I’m the one whose prayer life is deficient. I’m the one placing much more attention on other’s tasks than my own.
When approached by the media to explain what he believed was wrong with the world, a well-known author responded with these words.
“Dear Sir: Regarding your article ‘What’s Wrong with the World?’ I am. Yours truly,” G. K. Chesterton