“Then he who had received the one talent came and said, ‘Lord, I knew you to be a hard man, reaping where you have not sown, and gathering where you have not scattered seed. And I was afraid, and went and hid your talent in the ground. Look, there you have what is yours’ ” (Matthew 25:24,25).
FEAR AND PRIDE ARE FACTORS IN OUR DECISIONS MORE OFTEN THAN WE LIKE TO ADMIT. Some of our duties seem overwhelming. Some of our tasks seem impossible. And so we do nothing. Fearing failure, we fail to act at all. But like the unfaithful servant who was rebuked for having done nothing with his master’s money, we may hear our Lord’s rebuke for what we didn’t do.
When it comes to our work in the Lord, there is a parallel to the point Paul makes in 1 Corinthians 10:13 concerning temptation. There, the apostle says there will always be a “way of escape.” Similarly, when we face any responsibility, there will always be something we can do that will be worth doing.
Sometimes in life, it can be helpful to step back and look at the big picture. But there are other times when that would be a discouraging and unhelpful thing to do. It may look comprehensive, but the big picture can also look intimidating, and when the totality of what has to be done seems so huge as to be impossible, we need to dismiss the impossibilities from our minds and just concentrate on the small, doable tasks that lie right before us.
Anytime we have to make a decision about what to do, we need to remember that we are accountable. In the end, we will be judged. But it’s not for the things we could not have done that we will answer; it’s for those that we could. We will be examined as to the choices we made between the alternatives that were open to us.
There is a bit of the perfectionist in all of us, I think. At times, we won’t stoop to doing a job at all if we think we can’t do it at an extremely high level of excellence. But look at the good that doesn’t get done in the Lord’s work with that kind of attitude. It really is true that the enemy of the good is often the best. If our effort is going to fall somewhere along the “good-better-best” continuum, let’s not allow the impossibility of the “best” to keep us from going ahead and doing a deed that would be “good.” If we will do the good that we can do, the best will usually take care of itself.
“Do not let what you cannot do interfere with what you can do” (John Wooden).