If Only? (1 Corinthians 1:7-9)

so that you are not lacking in any gift, as you wait for the revealing of our Lord Jesus Christ,” (1 Corinthians 1:7, ESV)

Growing up in Yardley Pennsylvania, my dad got into fishing from the surf on the Jersey shore. The trip from our home to the shore took about 50 minutes, but this hobby gave my dad a lot of relaxation. Well, he decided to get my brother and me into the sport also. So, he bought us some surf rods and reels. Granted, he purchased what he could afford. They were not the best or most expensive, but they worked. He purchased and provided everything we needed to fish on the surf in New Jersey.

I remember our first couple fishing trips. On our first trip, my brother caught a 31-inch 10-pound striper. I caught one just over the legal size at the time of about 19-inches. I was a bit disappointed that my younger brother had out-fished me. Yet, my dad did not catch a thing. The next weekend, I caught a 31-inch ten-pounder. The point of this story is that my dad provided exactly what we needed to catch fish from the surf.

However, thinking back on this experience, we could have easily gotten caught up in the “If only!” dilemma, especially if we did not catch anything on those first two trips. If only I had a longer fishing rod. If only I had a better reel. If only we had better hooks and tackle. If only. It is a fool’s game to play.

In the previous devotion, we saw that Paul gave thanks to God for all He had done for and continued to do in the church at Corinth. One of the things for which Paul gave thanks was that the church was not lacking in any gift. The Lord had provided everything they needed to fulfill their mission as they waited for the Lord’s return.

Often in churches, we get into the “If only” dilemma. It is a foolish game to play. The reason is this. The Lord has provided everything the church needs to accomplish the mission in its sphere of influence. It is common for the church to think, “If only.” If only we had a new or bigger building. If only we were in a better location. If only we had a person gifted in this or that area. If only we had more money. If only we had a different style of music. If only our preacher was more dynamic. If only . . . This is a foolish game to play because it puts the church into a defeatist attitude. Moreover, this game indicates that the church does not believe the Lord provides everything they need to churches that are partnering in the gospel ministry (Phil 4:19).

The church needs to readjust its thinking. Rather than “What if,” the church should reaffirm that they, in fact, have everything they need to do what the Lord has called them to do. They should identify the abundance of resources that the Lord has already provided and ensure that the congregation is utilizing to the maximum these resources. In our church, we had an extremely talented musician sitting in the pews and not being utilized because there was a phobia by some regarding using an electric guitar in worship. One Sunday when all of our regular musicians were gone, we used this young man and the congregation was greatly blessed. He became a permanent addition to the team.

The non-utilization of the young electric guitar player is just an example of a larger problem, a failure to utilize the gifts and talents that the Lord has provided for the church. The point of this is to stop the “What if” dilemma and praise God for all the blessings He has already provided. The church must identify and use these valued resources. It is my opinion that if the church fails to use them, He will move them to a congregation that will.

Published by Steve Hankins, Th.D.

Steve has had extensive military, business and ministry experience. He has served for over 16 years in full time vocational ministry and many years of part time ministry in churches. He has led churches through start-up and recasting of vision. Now He resides on the Outer Banks of North Carolina where he is working to help smaller churches and believers to renew their hearts and regain the joy of the Lord.

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