It happens now and then. We have a worship service where everything goes wrong, I preach a sermon that falls flat, or we have an event that is tried and found wanting. Whenever this happens, well-intentioned people say things like, “It’s okay. People still worshipped, God still spoke, God’s bigger than all this.” The truth is, there is so much encouraging wisdom in this sentiment. I don’t put any faith in sermons and songs to save and sanctify. Only the Spirit working through the foolishness of these things changes anyone. Amen?! We can’t ever forget that. Down with all confidence in man-made, man-manipulated, man-centered attempts at swaying the hearts and minds of people. It won’t work.
The problem is, when we have one of those “off days” it’s not the results I’m worried about, but what we could have done to be better prepared. I think God is just as honored in my preparation as He is in proclamation. When I preach a ho-hum sermon, I believe God can and will still speak because His Word never returns void (Is.55:10-11). What bothers me is when I begin to presume on the power of God and use it to justify my own laziness.
The power of God is never an excuse for a lack of preparation.
1 Corinthians 10:31 says, “Do all to the glory of God.” Call me a literalist, but when Paul said “all”, I think he meant “all.” I know the context is about Christian liberty, but the command to labor for the glory of God in all we do applies beyond the immediate context. Ecclesiastes 9:10 says, “Whatever your hand finds to do, do it with all your might…” Colossians 3:23-24 says, “Whatever you do, work heartily, as for the Lord and not for men, knowing that from the Lord you will receive the inheritance as your reward. You are serving the Lord Christ.”
The power of God is never an excuse for a lack of preparation. We should find so much security and peace in the fact that God is bigger than our best efforts and failed attempts. At the same time we should honor God by putting our blood, sweat, and tears into everything our hands find to do. Not because our hope and faith are in these things, but because we do all we do for the glory of a God, who is worthy of our hard work.