By Michael E. Brooks
“On the third day there was a wedding in Cana of Galilee, and the mother of Jesus was there. Now both Jesus and his disciples were invited to the wedding” (John 2:1-2 NKJV)
On one trip into the mountains of Nepal I was invited to attend and conduct the wedding of two young Tamang Christians. The local preachers wanted to witness a “Christian” wedding, since none of them had previously done so. I agreed so that I could teach and also be of assistance to the young couple and their families.
The wedding activities forced some adjustments in my schedule of meetings and preaching, and somewhat affected our work. I felt put upon in that regard, perhaps even manipulated, though I was willing to make the changes because I felt good would result. Nevertheless I was in the situation that my own plans and work had to be subjugated to someone else’s agenda. That is not always a good feeling.
When I read the story of Jesus’ first miracle in John 2, I get the impression that he may have felt a little like I did. As the story progresses, the wedding feast runs out of wine. Jesus’ mother, Mary, asks him to fix the problem. Jesus says, “Woman, what does your concern have to do with me? My hour has not yet come” (John 2:4). In other words, “Why is that my responsibility? I am not on earth to cater feasts.”
Regardless, however, he went on to solve the problem, absorbing that task as an opportunity to further his own work. By looking at his example we too can learn how to respond to responsibilities wished on us by others. I suggest these key points.
First, let us always do what we should. There are some tasks God assigns us which we cannot neglect. The world will always try to distract us from these essentials. Some writers call this “the tyranny of the urgent,” and they distinguish that from what is truly important. Urgent things, which clutter our daily schedules, are often of little real value. They just demand immediate attention. Important things have a real bearing on one’s success.
One of my major struggles over years of ministry has been to learn that even though a particular activity may be a good thing, that does not justify my using it as an excuse to shun doing something of greater importance. Often the thing which we should do is more difficult or less enjoyable than other alternatives. We do the lesser thing, excusing ourselves by the justification that it too was worthwhile.
Second, let us do what we can. Having assured that our primary goal is secured, there may be time and energy remaining by which we may attend to other matters. Where there is such opportunity, let us act (Galatians 6:10). We must not say, “I have done my job, I don’t have to do anything else.”
Jesus was not a caterer, yet he had the ability to help his mother, and he did. This is addressed in the Sermon on the Mount as the principle of the extra mile (Matthew 5:41). God wants us to always be willing to do more than duty demands.
Finally, we must do the very best we can in all things. Jesus work was commended by the master of the feast, because the bridegroom had “kept the good wine until now” (John 2:10). There are those who refuse to do their best when working on someone else’s project. “Why should they get all the credit?”
Jesus gave himself fully in all that he did. Whether it is our personal ministry, our perceived duty, or extra work we do for others, let us do our best so that we may be found “fully pleasing him” in all things (Colossians 1:10).
Our responsibilities go beyond those tasks we are personally assigned. They are rather to be identified as our abilities plus our resources plus our opportunities. “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (James 4:17).
By Michael E. Brooks