We have been working through a Bible overview sermon series at church. Most recently, we spent time in the books of 1 and 2 Kings. These are the story of the tragedy of God’s people rejecting God and eventually receiving punishment for their rejection.
If you read 1 and 2 Kings you will notice that they are full of – surprise, surprise – accounts of the reigns of kings of Israel and Judah. Most of the kings are rated as evil, with only a handful getting a positive review from God. It is worth reflecting on this. Many of the kings ruled over successful economies and times of peace. They would be the kind of rulers that would be popular with the people. They would be re-elected if they governed in a democracy. Yet at the end of their lives God gave them a cross and not a tick. What mattered to God was faithfulness to Him, not a strong economy or popularity.
On a similar topic, I came across something interesting in a book I recently read (Boring: Finding an extraordinary God in an ordinary life by Michael Kelley). Many of you will have heard of Jim Elliot who was a missionary to unreached tribal people in Ecuador. Jim was a standout academic student and athlete who decided to head into a dangerous mission field instead of taking up the many opportunities that were offered to him back home. His mission work was dramatic but short-lived as he was killed by tribal warriors in 1956. His biography ‘Through Gates of Splendor’ has been a bestseller, and his widow Charlotte became a prominent speaker, teacher and writer. His death led to feature articles in Time and Life magazines.
I had heard of Jim Elliot. Who I had not heard of was his brother Bert. It seems few people have. He has not made the papers, and there are few mentions of him anywhere. Bert Elliot also went to the mission field in the 1950s; and he is still there. Bert and his wife Colleen have been in Peru for decades and still serve the people there in their 80s. They have planted more than 170 churches. He has just kept on spreading the gospel, faithfully for years and years, and God has blessed his work.
We might be well known and respected and successful by the world’s standards. We might be despised by others and in all kinds of problems. Like Bert Elliot, maybe no-one will have heard of us. But God values faithfulness, not success and not popularity. We need to be faithful with what we have been given, and strive to serve God well whatever comes.
Don’t live for treasures that fade away and thieves break in and steal, work for treasure in heaven.