Late in the 4th century, two brothers arrived in the desert in Egypt to live among the Nitrian monks. The sons of a recently deceased Spanish merchant, Paesius and Isaias had inherited a considerable sum of money and wanted to use their windfall to serve Christ.
However, the two brothers each took very different routes in their service. One took his inheritance and shared it with other monasteries and people and institutions in need. The other built his own monastery and, instead of spreading his wealth, opened his doors to any who needed help.
After both bothers had passed away, there was some debate among the monks as to who was right in the way they used what God had given them. There was considerable dissension between those who preferred the method of Paesius and those who favored Isaias’ approach. The two parties approached Pambo, the founder of the Nitrian monastic order, to settle the debate once and for all.
His answer: “Both were perfect. One showed the work of Abraham; the other, that of Elijah.”
It is easy to get caught up in the religion minutae of what it means to follow Christ and exactly how we should go about serving. The apostle Paul points out the answer quite plainly:
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. – Colossians 3:23-24 (ESV)
What we do is not nearly as important as why. Paesius and Isaias both had in their hearts the God given desire to serve others in Christ’s love. And God gave each the desires of their hearts. The point isn’t the methodology. It is their faithfulness. Each of the brothers used their God given skills, gifts and direction to serve in Jesus’ name. And, in the end, The Lord honored both – equally.
What has God called you to do? Are you doing it? If yes, keep on keepin’ on to the glory of God! If not, what’s stopping you? Are you afraid of what others might think or say? Is God asking something radical of you that you don’t feel you can do?
If we want to be happy in life, we must be faithful. We have to listen to the still small voice of the Spirit when he says, “Go here”, or “Feed my sheep”, or “Give it away.” Nothing we do should be defined or contained by what we believe we are capable of. For without the Lord, our capabilities are of naught.
But, with Christ, serving Him, seeking Him, loving others in His name, we cannot fail. Even the things we may believe to be failures are useful in the hands of God, Who works all things together for the good of those who love Him.
Don’t worry about what to do. Don’t concern yourself with what others think. Critics are nothing more than people who failed and lacked the courage to get back up and try again.
Listen to the Lord. Seek His guidance, His wisdom, His mercy and grace, His direction… His kingdom first and foremost. Go where He says to go. Do what she says to do. Fix your eyes on the prize of Christ and run the race set before you – fearlessly, faithfully, joyfully, knowing you have the backing of our Lord God, the Creator and Sustainer of all!