FIRST-PERSON: Sweat equity
ALEXANDRIA, La. (BP) -- Perhaps it all began with the realization that you needed more space. Your family had grown and your house seemed to shrink. On a sleepless night, you binge-watched HGTV and saw the allure of open-concept living complete with marble countertops, shiplap and lots more room. Suddenly, you remember a term your dad talked about, "Sweat equity!"
It came like a sudden eureka: "I can self-contract and build my dream house!" All you would need to do is watch some DIY videos on YouTube, invest a little old-fashioned sweat equity and voila -- you're doing a live broadcast with Chip and Joanna Gaines on the front lawn of your new home.
However, your dream will require more than a little sweat equity -- it will take barrels of it. There's no way to avoid it. No sweat equity, no dream house.
Jesus tells us the harvest is plentiful but the laborers –--not so much. By definition labor implies sweat equity. It will take effort, lots of effort, to gather the promised harvest. It's not always fun. We have to be willing the get our hands dirty. It takes time, usually more than we planned. Yet we will never gather the harvest Jesus has prepared unless we're willing to invest some sweat equity.
Without question our numbers are down. Most of the major indicators tell us that Southern Baptists have fewer people in worship. Fewer people in Sunday School and small groups. Fewer people being baptized. However, the issue is not the people who are not coming -- it's the lack of people who are going.
Why is sweat equity so important?
1. Sweat equity indicates value.
When you believe that something or someone has value, you're willing to invest your time and effort. Your sweat equity tells them they are important. If we want to see people saved, baptized and set on the road to discipleship, it's going to cost us something.
2. Sweat equity requires desire.
The sports adage says, "You have to want it." We talk about the harvest. We study the harvest. We gaze at the harvest. But do we really want it? If so, this God-honoring desire will drive us to invest our sweat equity to bring in the ready harvest.
3. Sweat equity yields an exciting reward.
All of the prayers, all of the effort is worth it when the harvest responds to God's gift of grace. The angels celebrate. Hearts are changed. Families restored. The pews begin to fill up with new people. It's rewarding to those who go as well as those who come.
Only one question remains, are we willing to invest the sweat equity required to gather the harvest that efforts such as "Who's Your One?" and the various state evangelism campaigns, such as Louisiana's HereforYou.org, will generate?
The harvest is waiting -- just as Jesus promised -- for those willing to invest the sweat equity to bring them in. Who's up for a little perspiration?