TONY ELDER: Don't let discouragement keep you from serving the Lord

Tony Elder

Tony Elder

Recently I read an excerpt from George Washington’s journal on the day he left Mount Vernon to assume his duties as our first president. On that significant occasion, he penned these words: “At 10:00 I bid adieu to Mount Vernon…with the best disposition to render service to my country in obedience to its call, but with less hopes of answering its expectations.”

It seems Washington was ready, willing, and enthused about answering the call to serve as president. But I find it interesting that he was concerned he might not meet the nation’s expectations of him.

Maybe some of us can relate to that in connection with serving the Lord. We want to serve Him. We’re enthused about the possibilities. But we’re afraid we’re not going to measure up and be able to do what He expects of us.

If that’s the case, there are a couple of principles from an incident in Acts 3 which should encourage us. This was the time when Peter and John met a lame man at the gate of the temple and healed him. Do you remember what Peter told the man? “Silver and gold I do not have, but what I do have I give you; in the name of Jesus Christ of Nazareth, rise up and walk” (Acts 3:6).

One principle that can help us with our concerns about meeting God’s expectations as we serve Him is: the Lord doesn’t expect us to give what we don’t have to give. Peter didn’t think, “God can’t use me to do anything for this poor man because I have no money to offer him.”

Sometimes we’re tempted to think, “God can’t use me because I don’t possess this particular talent or ability.” Or “if only I had the money to help this person out.” Or “if only I had the resources to begin that ministry.”

Let’s not allow discouragement over what we don’t have keep us from serving the Lord. Some of us need to quit beating ourselves up over what we can’t do or don’t have the resources to do. God doesn’t expect us to serve in those ways if we don’t have those things to give.

Don’t get me wrong. This isn’t an excuse not to serve. If God calls us to do something, He will give us the abilities and resources to do it. But this principle reminds us that there are some things we may not be gifted to do and therefore certain ways we may not be expected to serve Him.

But there’s a second important principle here: the Lord does expect us to give what we do have to give. The Lord used Peter as he gave what he had to give. Peter gave something much more valuable than money to the lame man — the gift of being able to walk through the healing power of Jesus Christ.

You may not have the skills to construct a church building in South America, but what skills and abilities do you possess? Are you giving those to the Lord to be used in some way to serve Him and to help others?

We may not have the abundant talent and resources others enjoy, but let’s give what we’ve got, like the widow who threw a fraction of a penny into the temple treasury. Jesus may value and use our small gift in greater ways than those who are giving out of their abundance.

So as we encounter the hurting, needy and lost people of this world, let’s focus less on what we can’t give and more on what we do have to give. Let’s give what we have and trust God to use us to touch those people’s lives.

The Rev. Tony W. Elder is pastor of Wesley Community Fellowship Church. He can be reached at 770-483-3405 or by email at revtelder@aol.com.