“And whatever you do in word or deed, do all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through Him.” (Colossians 3:17 NKJV)
“Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in heaven.” (Matthew 5:16)
“Therefore, as we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.” (Galatians 6:10)
My office is a mess.
“A messy desk is the sign of genius.” We often see this quote online (the bastion of well-established scientific truth, right?) If so, my disorganized desk and office qualify me for an Einsteinian or Hawkingtonian-level intellect. Sadly, as my family and colleagues will freely and enthusiastically tell you, that’s not the case.
However, those with messy workspaces are generally more creative than those OCD (Obsessive Compulsive Disorder) neatniks who have to have a place for everything and everything in its place. That would take a radical transforming work of the Holy Spirit on par with creating the universe to get me to that point, I tell ya.
What’s more significant, according to A Messy Workspace Isn’t Necessarily a Sign of Genius and Why Clean Desks Matter (saphyte.medium.com), is that people with clean workspaces are generally more productive.
Judging by my office, I’m in a pitched battle between creativity and productivity.
Every so often, I get a burr under my saddle, and I have to organize my world. As I go, I frequently realize how much stuff I’ve piled on the digital piano to my right, under the window that lets in the warm Florida breeze and glorious sunlight.
The other day, as I dug through the pile of files and paperwork, I found a piece of sheet music I bought decades ago when I was enraptured with Scott Joplin’s ragtime compositions after watching the 1973 movie The Sting. (It’s a must-watch, believe me.) The sheet music was a piece called Solace, a sweet song that evokes feelings of wistfulness and peace. I hadn’t played it in years. So I cleared my piano of my tax files, a cloth grocery bag, notes to help me lead an upcoming prayer time at church, and a newsletter from Voice of the Martyrs and began to play.
Despite the mistakes, I enjoyed listening to the music and could almost see the notes lift from the keys and waft out the window.
It was so beautiful and fun, why hadn’t I played it more? Why hadn’t I also dug out other sheet music and played them? As a youngster, I loved to sit at the piano and rip through composition after composition of all styles. When I played, my mom used to sit on the couch and listen.
I also have lots of worship music. Why don’t I play those daily? Come to think of it, by not doing so, I’ve denied the Lord an offering of music for my Audience of One. And when I don’t play, I’ve failed to bless people who enjoy my piano playing.
Soon after Jeanne and I moved to our new state, I had to get involved with my local congregation’s worship team because I didn’t want to “bury my talent.” I wanted to use it to bless the Lord and the worshippers rather than let it sit dormant within me.
Along these lines, I came across this quote today from George Mueller, Christian evangelist and the director of the Ashley Down orphanage in Bristol, England. “When the day of recompense comes, our only regret will be that we have done so little for Him, not that we have done too much.” Selah. (A Psalmist’s notation for a pause to reflect.)
Are our lives akin to music we never play?
Written music is a series of notes and notations telling the musician what and how to play a musical work the way the composer intended. When the piece ends, the composer gets recognition for the masterful work, after which the performer is acknowledged for their part.
In my illustration, the notes are opportunities to bless the Lord and others through good works, and the notations are the Holy Spirit’s promptings about how to do so. When Christians do good works, our Heavenly Father gets the credit for His masterful work through us (Matthew 5:16). If we fail to take those opportunities, the music of our lives remains unplayed and the Composer unacknowledged.
Back to leading worship from the piano, I wanted to use what the Lord has given me and not sit like unplayed sheet music on an unused keyboard. That seemed like such a waste, mainly because He gave me my talent and abilities and expects me to use them for His sake.
As I mulled that over, I realized that when the day of recompense comes for me, my only regret will be that I have played so little of my life’s music for Him and not that I had played too much.
Jesus has given us His love, grace, supernatural and natural gifts, and talents, and He empowers and guides us by His Holy Spirit to bring forth a musical work of art in life no other person can duplicate. Our lives, all we are and all we can offer, are that opus the Composer has created to bless Himself and the rest of the world. Why do we so often leave it unplayed?
There’s a story about a rabbi who, while on his deathbed, began to cry. His disciples asked him why he was crying when he was about to meet God face to face. His sadness came from knowing he would have no more opportunities to do good in this world for God.
Embracing that attitude will prevent us from making our lives “the music we never play.” Baseline, Solomon put it well, “I know that nothing is better for them than to rejoice, and to do good in their lives” (Ecclesiastes 3:12).
So, let me encourage you to “play your music” unto the Lord and for the blessing of those around you. Every day gives us plenty of opportunities to be loving to the Lord. I know that sounds odd, but hear me out.
Hebraic thinking is action-oriented. Greek (Western) thinking is mainly speculative. A Western-thinking Christian asks their pastor, “What should I think about this verse?” A Hebraically-thinking Jew asks their rabbi, “How can I do this verse?” See the difference? A Western-thinking Christian usually understands love as a feeling or affectionate thought. But a Hebraically-thinking Jew understands love as an action, as in “being loving.” See the difference? “I will love God” versus “I will be loving to Him.”
Therefore, to be biblically Hebraic in our thinking, we shouldn’t look for opportunities to feel love and affection for God but take opportunities to be loving toward Him. Apostle John reflected this when he wrote, “Little children, let us not love in word or speech, but in action and in truth” (1 John 3:18).
When we “play the music” of our lives, we’re actively doing things to be loving toward the Lord who loved us first (1 John 4:19). Some of those things include spending time, meaningful time, reading His word, and letting Him speak it into us, or talking back and forth with the Lord and not making it a filibuster of prayer requests. How long has it been since you sat down and started with, “Speak, Lord, for your servant is listening,” as the prophet Samuel did (1 Samuel 3:9), and let the Lord take the lead in your sanctified chat? On a personal (musical) note, it’s been a long time since I sat at my keyboard and just played and sang to Jesus.
One of the best ways to be loving to the Lord is to be loving to others by doing good to them. Please don’t think I’ve mastered this. I’ve fallen short many times. But the Holy Spirit picks me up and gets me back on track with even more opportunities to play more music for Him.
I recently found an encouraging article about making beautiful music with our lives, using what we’ve been given to bless the Lord and those around us. The article was MinTools Blog: Ministry Training and Equipping for Christians Desirous of Serving God. It had excellent points for a devotional or small group discussion. So, as an experiment, go down the bullet points. Read the idea, then the scripture, and seriously mull or discuss how to do these ideas in practical, loving-on-the-Lord, world-touching ways. I could give you my take on them, but I want to let the Holy Spirit have His say according to your situation.
“Ways we can be a blessing to others by extending His love and grace to them:
Speaking uplifting and encouraging words that ‘benefit those who listen’ (Ephesians 4:29). Living authentically and honestly (Ephesians 4:14-15; Colossians 3:9; 1 John 3:18).
Being kind and compassionate (Ephesians 4:32).
Being hospitable, making people feel warmth and welcome (Romans 12:13).
Sharing of our resources to meet needs (financial and otherwise) (Romans 12:13; Hebrews 13:16).
Answering kindly to those who speak wrongly to or about us (1 Corinthians 4:12-13; 1 Peter 3:9).
Doing good to those who have done wrong to us (Luke 6:27-28; 1 Peter 3:9).
Forgiving those who have wronged us (Ephesians 4:32).
Praying with gratitude for people and letting them know you’re praying for them (2 Corinthians 1:11; Ephesians 1:16; Colossians 1:3; 1 Thessalonians 1:2).”
The remarkable thing is these ideas are so simple, and the Lord has equipped all of us with the ability to do each one in our own way, just like each pianist has their own style. That is if we choose to play the music or let it lie unplayed on the keyboard of our lives, God forbid.
It doesn’t matter if our abilities rise to the level of “chopsticks” or a Rachmaninoff piano concerto, we all have God-given music to play if we would just put fingers to keys at every opportunity possible. Every day brings a multitude of them. Will we take advantage of them, or will we live to regret the music we never played?
Let’s be loving to God, and as Apostle Paul wrote, “As we have opportunity, let us do good to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith.”
Play that music, saint!
Be a Blessing to Others, mintools.com/blog/be-a-blessing-to-others.htm, September 21, 2022
A Messy Workspace Isn’t Necessarily a Sign of Genius and Why Clean Desks Matter (saphyte.medium.com/a-messy-workspace-isnt-necessarily-a-sign-of-genius-and-why-clean-desks-matter-e187f8ceb24a)
Shining the Light of God’s Truth on the Road Ahead
Pastor Jay Christianson
The Truth Barista, Frothy Thoughts