The person reporting this incident has this to say: “The man who came to see me about the matter had learned his lesson well. He did not suggest anything that seemed like a minimum, but mentioned several sums that looked like a terrifying maxima.”
There is a real truth in the saying that a minimum has a funny way of turning into a maximum. When applied to our service for God it is not funny but subtle and tragic. God loves a cheerful giver, and a cheerful giver would never be satisfied with giving only the minimum. When the question becomes not “What can I do?” but “What must I do?” One is living the minimum and not the maximum life.
There is little in the realm of life where that statement is not true. We meet it in childhood, where the question often is “How little can I do and get by?” Most children are willing to wash their faces, but that means only the cheeks and not behind the ears. They are willing to shovel the snow off the front walk, but not around to the kitchen door. They are all for the minimum.
Teachers see the reluctance of many students to give more than the minimum. “How long does the term paper have to be?” “Do I have to answer all the questions?” Some students never get to the boiling point. There is no intellectual bubble of doing anything for the sake of accomplishment. Perhaps bubble is a poor word for scholarly achievement, but boiling water always seems to be water charged with animation, reminds one of the reaction of the lame man whom Peter and John healed at the Gate Beautiful, leaping and praising God.
In the life of the mind the real delight comes after one passes the minimum. The words spoken of Christ, quoted from the Psalmist, were: “I delight to do Thy will, O my God” (Psalm 40:8). His was maximum living. There was no place in His life for the minimum. That should be the buzzword for each one of us.
How poorly the minimum meets life’s needs! Take the matter of food, for example. Even where people are not striving, the minimum diet can be a dreary affair. One can exist on fruitless, starchy meals, but not be healthy. To attain the maximum in liveliness, vitality and vigor, one must have an adequate diet.
And take the matter of marriage and the home. There is a legal minimum that the partner in a marriage has to perform or the law steps in. But what a ghastly thing life on the minimum in the home can be ... with a minimum of consideration, a minimum of honor, a minimum of sacrifice or love!
In Jesus we have the record of a maximum life. It is impossible to find any unsatisfied minimum of service in the life of Jesus. It was said of Him, “Having loved His own, He loved them to the end” (John 13:1). We never heard Him say: “Well, I guess I will call it a day. I have done enough for these fishermen today.”
The danger for us is letting the minimum becoming the maximum in our spiritual Lives. When that occurs, our spiritual advancement stops. We miss the deep power of joy of willing-hearted service for God. There is a tremendous difference between something one has to carry and something that carries one. When we leave the minimum in our service to God, we get out of the realm of obligations into the realm of joy. That is where Jesus lived. It was His delight to do the will of His Father.
Why not make your maximum the minimum you give to God!
(The thoughts and ideas of this article were found in writings by Kenneth E. Flowerday, for which I am indebted).
Dr. Charles M. Wood, II is the pastor of The Christian Church in Logan, and an accomplished instructor of psychology and religion at Southern West Virginia Community and Technical College. He is a Christian counselor in Logan - serving, ministering, and donating his time to people from all denominations.
If you would like to contact Dr. Wood, please write: The Logan Banner, c/o The Good Life With Dr. Wood, P.O. Box 720, Logan, WV 25601; or call (304) 752-4658. All letters addressed to Dr. Wood will be forwarded to his office.