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Tattered Scraps of Truth

If you're like me, you place exorbitant pressure on yourself to single-handedly escort every lost soul you meet from sin to the baptismal tub. You may have a list of people that you weep for and have wept for, perhaps for years, and want nothing more than to see saved by Jesus' blood. That grief for those around us—those we love who do not know the infinite love of Jesus—is painful and suffocating and discouraging and so very, very heavy.

Sometimes it feels as if their salvation is in our hands—that we must be perfect, flawless, because one wrong move will drive them away from hope and endless life. If we fail, it will cost them eternity. If we screw up, they will suffer. And while all of this pressure originates from a desire to share Jesus' love . . . there is a lie beneath it. The lie that says God can only work with perfection.

How many times have I left a conversation feeling like I absolutely blew it? I said all the wrong things, I didn't have all the answers, I probably gave wrong answers . . . What now? Can that person possibly find joy in Jesus when I've failed so terribly?

Of course. Jesus knew exactly what he was working with when he sent us out to preach the gospel. He knew our flaws, our imperfect understanding, our need to grow in faith and our inevitable failures. But what we often forget under self-inflicted pressure is that Jesus can work with our meagre efforts to produce great things. He can take the tattered scraps of truth we brought to that flopped conversation, and use them to plant a seed in that person, to be nurtured by the next guy.

Look at Apollos. In Acts 18, Apollos is introduced as an "eloquent" man who preached God boldly. The thing was, Apollos didn't have the full picture—his understanding of the gospel was imperfect, and he needed to be corrected with the true gospel before he could go on teaching. But what did that mean for all the people who had heard his flawed preaching—preaching that only included the baptism of John, not Jesus?

Well, when the Apostle Paul came along, he found a dozen men who had never heard of the Holy Spirit and had been baptized in the name of John. But when they heard the true gospel, they readily believed in Jesus, were baptized in his name, and were filled with the Holy Spirit. So while Apollos' ministry was imperfect at first, it was not in vain. God used his preaching to lay a groundwork of faith in the hearts of those 12 men, so that they would be receptive to Paul's message later on. In short, God wrought salvation despite and out of Apollos' imperfect ministry.

We should strive for perfection, but we must also place our loved ones in God's hands. Ask Him to work with our flaws, to empower our testimonies despite our mistakes, and to shape us into more effective witnesses. He is not restricted by our limitations. He can do great things through them and in spite of them if we seek His guidance, give Him our all, and prayerfully entrust our tattered efforts to His masterful hand.

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