Live So Others May Flourish
Imagine you entered a concert hall where a symphony orchestra sat ready to play, but half of the members had their hands tied behind their backs. You’d know something was terribly wrong. Surely the conductor doesn’t expect to perform the symphony with only half an orchestra.
In our world, God—the great Conductor—frees all of us to use our abilities in a symphony of service to Christ and our neighbor. Yet many people in God’s world today are bound by fear or circumstances. They need encouragement. They need opportunities to develop the good gifts that God has bestowed on them. Unless leaders free them to flourish, many people remain trapped and unproductive.
Jesus came upon a man who was literally bound by chains and crying out in despair (you can read the story in Mark 5:1-20). The whole town knew this man could never become what God intended him to be without dramatic help. They must have hoped for someone like Jesus to set the man free. In fact, once our Lord liberated that man, he began a ten-city tour on behalf of Jesus. His abilities were unchained.
This would be a touching story with a happy ending, except for one thing. This man's freedom wound up costing the farmers in that area a small fortune: 2,000 of their pigs died. It is sobering to listen to the reaction of the crowd after seeing what it cost them to set one man free: ". . . the people began to plead with Jesus to leave their region."
We like to think that we would rejoice to see Jesus' power used to help others become what God intends them to be. But what if it costs us a lot to make this possible? Are we ready to see our annual income—our standard of living—lowered so that others might thrive? That question confronted a group of women who were following Jesus. In Luke 8:3, we read that "these women were helping to support Jesus and the disciples out of their own means." In order to give others a chance to do what they were called to do, these women now had less money for their own families. No longer could they afford the biggest house, the best vacations, or the latest technology.
You can just hear their kids, "But mom, everyone has papyrus scrolls now, I'll just die if I have to keep using these clay tablets."
To allow one person to follow a passion in work, my whole family may need to tighten its belt. Or maybe it's worse than that. To free mom to use her abilities outside the home, we may all have to do more housework! Eventually, like the women who supported the early disciples, our family can make sacrifices so others—poor urban kids in our town or Third World people with fantastic abilities but zero chances to develop them—can live out all that God has put into them.
It’s our choice. We don't have to be like those villagers who asked Jesus to leave them alone so many years ago. We can live in a way that sets others free. We can help others experience the joy of living out the high calling of their daily work.