By Tom Roberts
We live in a time when modern technology has provided us with the ability to do things quickly. We hear of instant coffee, tea, TV dinners, microwave ovens that cook in seconds, radios and televisions that turn on “instantly,” without waiting for the unit to warm up, computers that rapidly supply answers to difficult questions and many more such like. Consequently, Americans have become used to the concept that almost anything can be done quickly and effortlessly. Miracle drugs provide instant cures to many diseases and pills (white, red, blue, yellow or speckled) are available to relieve tension, slow down or speed up our lives. All of this reminds one of the postcard which contained the prayer, “0 Lord, please give me patience. And do it now.”
We need to be reminded that not everything can be accomplished in an instant. There are some things that require attention, other things that need to be savored and yet others that demand time and patience to accomplish a worthwhile goal. If we expect everything to be over and done in a “twinkling of an eye,” we will miss many a good thing while not really giving other things the attention they deserve.
Knowledge of the Bible is not an instant accomplishment. Have you seen a copy of the popular painting which shows an old, white-haired man sitting with his lamp and an open Bible? For that man, time stopped and he was completely absorbed in reading his Bible. Not many of us do that any more. While the apostles, through the baptism of the Holy Spirit, had instant knowledge (miraculous) of God’s will, none of us have that gift today. There is no substitute for reading the Scriptures, for taking a passage apart word by word, phrase by phrase, until we absorb the meaning that God gave it. How sad it is to teach a class of young people only to see them unable to read, with most of them skipping over words that are unfamiliar to them. When is the last time you took the time to look up a word when its meaning was unknown to you?
Robert Turner relates that a woman rushed up to him once and said, “I would give anything to have your knowledge of the Bible.” While I don’t remember his reply verbatim, he indicated that he simply did not believe the woman. Why? Because knowledge of the Bible is available to all Oust as it was to him) for the taking. Too many people are just not willing to take the time and effort to dig for the knowledge. If that woman (or anyone else) was really interested in learning, they can learn. Paul said, “Whereby, when ye read, ye- can perceive my understanding in the mystery of Christ” (Eph. 3:4). Not only can you know as much Bible as any living preacher today, you can know as much about it as Paul! But not instantly; not without study.
There are some things in life that must be savored to be appreciated. A good meal should not be gulped. Instead of nourishment and enjoyment, it will give you indigestion. So it is with many spiritual things. Our worship should not be pushed and shoved into a time frame that permits no deviation. So many miss visiting with the saints after worship because they must be first in line at the cafeteria. A sermon must not be too long (if one can determine just exactly how long one must be), a prayer should be short, the songs must not take up too much time, etc. We have become so clock-conscious that worship must be constricted and put into a corset of time lest it foul up our Sunday afternoon football (with instant replay). Consider instead, how uplifting it would be if our worship was set free from rigid adherence to the clock. (I realize that we must be practical in these matters or chaos would result.) Might we not just relax and sing one more song for the joy of the Lord’s Day? Might we not appreciate the Lord’s supper a little better? Is it possible the sermon might be understood a little clearer? Some things are worth extra effort or time.
Converting the lost requires a great deal. And many people are just not willing to make the sacrifice. To reach out to those that need the gospel means that we must turn off the TV, leave our family and spend time studying with those who do not know what we know. At times the ignorance of those outside of Christ is appalling; they don’t know the books of the Bible, the plan of salvation or how to worship God. In fact, the things they do know are often wrong. There is not a man or woman living that can spend five minutes with such people and impart to them what they need to know. The tragic thing about the situation is that most Christians are not any more willing to take the time to teach than the sinner is to take the time to learn. Stalemate.
Folks, let us not be guilty of putting the Lord on a stop watch. If we are truly to “put the kingdom of God first” (Mt. 6:33), other things will have to be farther down the list. If you can appreciate the differences between homemade yeast rolls (which have to be kneaded, allowed to rise, kneaded again, etc.) and pop-open rolls from the refrigerator case, you can understand what this lesson is all about. Some things are not better because they are quicker. Probably some people have not read this far in this article because they were too busy. If you did, you can understand the principle and be blessed by it.
Guardian of Truth XXVIII: 18, pp. 545, 569
September 20, 1984