by Tom Wacaster
“Postage by Mail!” That was the banner on the mass mail out by the United States Post Office a few years ago. Imagine the convenience; avoiding long lines at the post office; you could conduct all your business through the mail using the little order form that was attached. You could even purchase your 1st class stamps by filling out the form indicating how many books you wanted and then multiply it by the 41 cent cost of each stamp. The only problem was, the cost of 1st class stamps had gone up to 44 cents by the time we received the offer with its enclosed form. It reminds me of the time the Postal Service wanted to conduct a workshop somewhere in the upper mid-west in order to explain to Mr. Average Joe some of the problems within the Post Office and get some input from the man on the street on how to improve efficiency. The only problem was the announcements on the workshop were not sent out until four days AFTER the deadline for participants to sign up. Efficiency! What has happened to efficiency? No doubt you have heard someone moan, “The service here is just not what it used to be!” We have more products on the market than ever before. But things wear out faster than ever before, too.
Now, before you criticize the Postal Service, or your local merchant, let's ask ourselves if WE are as efficient and punctual, and “quality-minded” as we ought to be. Someone noted, “Quality is never an accident; it is always the result of high intention, sincere effort, intelligent direction and skillful execution; it represents the wise choice of many alternatives.” The late Vince Lombardi wrote, “The quality of a person's life is in direct proportion to their commitment excellence, regardless of their chosen field of endeavor.” Quality in our service to the Lord demands the same degree of intensity and dedication as is demanded in any other walk of life. The difference is that our eternal destination will be determined to a large degree by our willingness to put forth the effort to achieve such lofty heights. The apostle Paul expressed the depth of our soul’s devotion with these words: “And having gifts differing according to the grace that was given to us...let us give ourselves to our ministry…he that giveth, let him do it with liberality; he that ruleth, with diligence; he that showeth mercy, with cheerfulness” (Rom. 12:6-8). “And this I pray, that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and all discernment; so that ye may approve the things that are excellent; that ye may be sincere and void of offence unto the day of Christ” (Phil 1:9-10). The effectiveness of this congregation, or any congregation of God’s people, will be in direct proportion to the total number of members who are determined to provide the highest quality of service to the Lord. A fellow preacher shared this most fitting illustration: While on a trip to Switzerland, an American businessman was watching a Swiss clockmaker carving the case of an ornate cuckoo clock. As the businessman watched the clockmaker carve out the case, he was astounded at his slow rate of progress. The business man finally said, “My good man, you’ll never make much money that way.” The clockmaker replied, “Sir, I’m not making money, I’m making cuckoo clocks.”
Perhaps the quality of our devotion to the Lord would improve if each of us gave greater consideration to exactly what it is we are to do as God’s children. Solomon admonished his readers: “Whatever thy hand findeth to do, do it with all thy might” (Ecc. 9:10). It is unfortunate that this Biblical ethic has been lost in what we sometimes call “progress” and/or “development.” Too many are satisfied with “good enough.” How many of us give our best in every situation? Oh, perhaps in our service unto others we attempt to couple quality and service together. On the job we are quite proficient; some are even perfectionists. But let’s take a look at another area of our lives, and consider this question. Do you give your best to God? Do I give my best to God in my attendance with the saints? Am I diligent in putting forth an effort to “forsake not the assembly,” or do I allow first one thing and another to interfere with that important obligation? When I habitually miss services can I honestly say that the quality of faithfulness is what it ought to be? When I am called upon to help in a public way, do I make every effort to be there? What about my Bible study? Am I really giving my best to grow in the grace and knowledge of my Lord? And what shall I say about my appearance on Sunday morning? Is my dress such that it reflects an effort put forth to make myself presentable to God? Or do I just throw on some casual clothes, careless about my appearance before God and my example before others? You see, my friend, when we become careless in our service to God, and become satisfied with “good enough,” we contribute to the demise of efficiency. I think I can say, without fear of contradiction, that once my quality of service to God begins to decline, it is not long before service to my fellow man suffers as well. For if we are not careful with regard to the more important matters of eternity, what makes us think we will be concerned about the temporal matters that have no lasting value? Take a close look at yourself in the “mirror” of God’s word (Jas. 1:24) and ask again, “What has happened to efficiency?” Think about it!