I was preparing to teach when I ran across some powerful quotes from Mother Teresa. Her words prompted this post.
I am spending the month of January with a focus on our witness to the world. I’ve always appreciated a strong biblical sermon or lesson that teaches God’s word. But, I’ve also heard a lot of sermons and lessons that never used words at all.
I teach the Bible because I believe that God’s word is pure and perfect truth. Our world is full of information and opinions, all of which need to be examined by the pure light of God’s word.
I had the privilege of hearing Mother Teresa at the National Prayer Breakfast in 1994. Her message was clear, her delivery was straightforward, and it was filled with the truth of Scripture. I remember watching Bill Clinton’s face as she turned to him and said, “Give me the babies.” She had no problem addressing the topic of abortion with a president who condoned it.
Mother Teresa lived with a simple, profound witness that was grounded and guided by God’s word. I thought her words could teach us today.
What is an extraordinary witness?
Mother Teresa had an extraordinary witness to the world. If you take the time to read my blog, I assume you are interested in living with a strong witness for Christ too. I hope Mother Teresa’s words will impress your heart as they did mine. She said:
“Do not think that love in order to be genuine has to be extraordinary. What we need is to love without getting tired. Be faithful in small things because it is in them that your strength lies.”
Our culture tends to look for those who have a “big” witness. Maybe they lead a large congregation or hold popular events in a convention hall or arena or write best-selling books. But, for most of us, God considers our witness to be the accumulation of one small act of love after another. Spiritual strength is like physical exercise: it is the small things we do, the repetitions, that truly build our spiritual muscle and expand our witness.
Paul told the church in Galatia, “And let us not grow weary of doing good, for in due season we will reap, if we do not give up” (Galatians 6:9).
How would it change your day if you lived as Paul and Mother Teresa encouraged?
How many “small things” can your genuine faith and love accomplish today?
What will your witness and influence accomplish by the end of the week? Month? Year?
In my experience, it is the small things, accumulated over time, that bring about the most permanent change. We need to love consistently without getting tired and be continually faithful in the small things.
The famine in America
There is a lot in the news right now about the higher prices, the smaller workforce, and the increased spending from our leadership. It is difficult to watch the news and avoid feeling overburdened in some way. It’s easy to want to withdraw from the culture and just spend time with the people who think like we do.
Mother Teresa helped feed people who were dying of malnutrition, disease, and starvation. We well remember the pictures of the children who were literally skin and bones. That is rarely the picture of our “poor.” Prosperity and poverty have many definitions.
I did my best to find the setting of this quote from Mother Teresa. She said words like this when she received a Nobel Peace Prize and in her book, A Simple Path. But, at some point she spoke about the poverty of America’s culture when she said:
“There is a famine in America. Not a famine of food, but of love, of truth, of life.”
I have mentioned before that Hosea 4:6 is what motivates my teaching. In many ways, I feel like God’s words to Hosea should remind all of us, especially those of us in ministry, why Jesus told us to “go and make disciples” in this world.
God told Hosea, “My people are destroyed for lack of knowledge; because you have rejected knowledge, I reject you from being a priest to me. And since you have forgotten the law of your God, I also will forget your children” (Hosea 4:6).
I’ve been hearing a lot of people complaining about the directions in our culture. One of those voices has been my own. But we have the answer. When people do not know God, when they reject God’s biblical truth, then he cannot have an influence in their lives. And God has said he will have to reject those people who reject his Son.
Mother Teresa was right to say “there is a famine in America.” Our famine is about spiritual “food.” Our people are destroyed for lack of knowledge too. Those of us who own God’s word and don’t share it with love are fueling the famine.
A simple place to begin
Mother Teresa said, “If you can’t feed one hundred people, feed one.”
All of us have a witness, and all of us can go and make disciples. The Holy Spirit is our guide, our voice, and our strength. God’s word and his genuine love indwell every Christian. We can go and make disciples.
I want to share one last quote from Mother Teresa because none of us should ever feel unable to be a witness for Christ. None of us should ever feel like we have an excuse either! Mother Teresa said:
“Kind words can be short and easy to speak, but their echoes are truly endless.”
As I type these words, I am praying that the “ripple effects” of this blog post might be felt around our country. Will you pray with me to that end? Mother Teresa’s witness has been “endless,” and there is no reason why ours should be any different.
Jesus said, “You are the light of the world. A city set on a hill cannot be hidden” (Matthew 5:14). May all of us be shining examples of those who walk with Christ and therefore make him known to others.