by Pastor Tim Burt
Renee and I were home from the hospital. She had given birth to our first child—my beautiful tiny daughter Stephanie. There were no more nurses around to help us with everything. We were rookies engaging in this overwhelming new experience called parenting—trying to remember everything they told us in the hospital. It was 2 a.m. and Stephanie woke us up crying, we hoped because she was hungry. Renee nursed her and then I sent her back to bed and took Stephanie in the living room to rock her back to sleep. I was sitting in the wicker rocking chair in the living room. It was dark, quiet, and peaceful. Renee had just finished nursing her. I took Stephanie and told Renee to go back to sleep. I took her into the living room and sat down in our rocking chair.
Holding my little baby girl in this new experience and in this quiet and serene atmosphere seemed amazing. I was overwhelmed with emotion. As I rocked her, I could not stop kissing her cheeks and I could not stop thanking God for this precious gift. Like any new parent in this position, a thousand thoughts flooded my mind—two of which I will never forget. I One thought about how this new little girl was completely and utterly dependent on Renee and I for everything! It sparked this sense of responsibility within me. That scared me. The other thought was this feeling of selfishness. I suddenly felt so selfish. The past couple of years which were the first two of our marriage had been just about Renee and I. Everything was about us, doing everything for ourselves for our own pleasure and benefit. This had suddenly come to a screeching halt. Our lives were suddenly transformed in ways we could not yet know. She was completely dependent on us. We were completely responsible for her. This was not just a new commitment in our lives. This was a new level of commitment. We would have to be faithful and selfless to raise her right. I was seriously concerned I was too selfish to fulfill that commitment.
I was thankful that I had seeds of learning to be faithful deposited in my life along the way. When I was fourteen years old, I received a job as a stock boy in a small grocery store. The gentleman who hired me, Ozzie, turned out to be like a grandfather to me. I just loved him. He put a lot of faith in me. He treated me like an adult. He taught me many wonderful values and business principles. He put unmerited trust in me, giving me responsibility. 1 Corinthians 4:2NIV says that faithfulness should be required. "Now it is required that those who have been given a trust must prove faithful."
He had a way of expecting faithfulness out of me. Because he put faith in me, I wanted so bad to be someone he could count on. I became that person. I would do anything for that man. I worked hard for him and became someone he could count on eventually managing three grocery stores for him by the time I graduated high school. He had planted seeds of faithfulness in me.
My own father was one of the hardest working men I had ever known. He was amazingly faithful to his boss and to his profession and became one of the very best in his industry, receiving national recognition for being one of the time performers. He modeled this incredible work ethic. He was a father of ten and he was faithful to his job, His wife, and to being a great dad to his children. He continually made sacrifices in his life for mom and us kids.
As I got older and was able to appreciate the sacrifices that he had made for us, I wanted to become more and more like him. Although my youthful immaturity was filled with selfishness, because my father had planted seeds of what being faithful looked like in me, they took root. Selfishness was painstakingly purged from my life because being faithful was a character quality I wanted to have and be known for.
I gave my life to the Lord at the age of 24 and started attending an exciting Bible teaching church that taught from the Bible and opened my eyes and heart to God. I learned of God’s will for my life. Through preaching and Bible study, I was regularly confronted with the values and thoughts of stewardship, faithfulness, and commitment. Ephesians 4:11-16 taught me how spiritual maturity was enhanced through the commitment of each person in the body of Christ finding ways to serve others in commitment. “God gave gifts to the church... Their responsibility is to equip (teach and bring maturity to) God's people to do His work and build up the church… that we will be mature and full grown in the Lord... As each part (person) does its own special work, it helps the other parts grow, so that the whole body is healthy and growing and full of love.”
The Holy Spirit would constantly challenge me in making commitments that would demand a purging of selfishness and require serving others selflessly. God began to speak to me of the value of faithfulness to Him. Proverbs 3:3-4 says, “Let love and faithfulness never leave you; bind them around your neck, write them on the tablet of your heart. Then you will win favor and a good name in the sight of God and man.”
Over time, my life and my heart personally were transformed by making commitments to the Lord concerning Renee, my children, serving at church, and being faithful to give my best in my livelihood. Every time I was stretched, my attitude and motivation were stretched. I knew the Holy Spirit wanted me to make adjustments in both so I would not lose my reward in my efforts. I could hear His voice in 1 Corinthians 13:3 (NLT2). "If I gave everything I have to the poor and even sacrificed my body, I could boast about it; but if I didn’t love others, I would have gained nothing." I heard is whisper, Do this from a pure heart and with a right attitude. It will change you and reward you over time. I heeded that voice again and again.
God will help you spiritually grow, develop, and mature in character through your trust in Him to help you be faithful. Each new commitment and proving of your faithfulness will stretch your motivation and attitude. Be faithful and it will richly transform you and reward you. Serve God your spouse, your children, and your boss or livelihood with faithfulness, and in years to come, you will see the fruit of it and be thankful beyond words. I live in that place today and could not be more thankful to the Lord for all He has helped me become. And He will do the same for you!
Colossians 3:23 (NLT2) "Work willingly at whatever you do, as though you were working for the Lord rather than for people."
In His Love,
Pastor Tim Burt
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Published by Pastor Tim Burt
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