They’d had too much to drink. At least that was the testimony of a gentleman named Rob, who was explaining to authorities what had happened with his roommate. Apparently, the two had been hanging out in their house, drinking, when the man’s roommate, Thomas, came up with an unusual idea for a game. Rob’s 59-year-old roommate set fire to a rug inside their house and then made a wager with Rob. Here was the deal, Thomas said, “Let’s see which one of us leaves first.”
True story. As flames began to quickly spread, Rob ran to a neighbor’s house to call the fire department. By the time firefighters arrived, the house was completely engulfed with flames and Thomas was later found, still in the home, burned to death. He’d won the wager but lost his life. Coincidentally, their house was located on Fire Island in New York.
Obviously, what Thomas did was foolish and wrong. Dead wrong. But what he said made me start thinking … about John 15 … and what Jesus said to His disciples. In John 15:4-8, Jesus essentially said, “If you leave, you lose.” Unlike Thomas, Jesus hadn’t set a rug on fire as the result of a silly game. Quite the contrary. He’d lit a fire in the hearts of His disciples that would ultimately challenge and change the world.
Listen again to His words. “Remain in me, and I will remain in you. No branch can bear fruit by itself; it must remain in the vine. Neither can you bear fruit unless you remain in me. I am the vine; you are the branches. If a man remains in me and I in him, he will bear much fruit; apart from me you can do nothing. If anyone does not remain in me, he is like a branch that is thrown away and withers; such branches are picked up, thrown into the fire and burned. If you remain in me and my words remain in you, ask whatever you wish, and it will be given you. This is to my Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be my disciples.”
It’s the principle and power of remaining. Quite clearly, the leavers wind up the losers … every time.
Those who remain receive the rewards.
Years ago in Florida, we attended the memorial service of Norma Barnett, a very dear friend of our family. As her obituary was being read, mention was made of the fact she had been a member of her church for thirty-two years. Thirty-two years! Think about it. She remained. For thirty-two years! Standing in the funeral home the night before, listening to the stories of lives changed by hers, it was obvious again to me that we were all the beneficiaries of the fact she remained … in love with her Lord, involved in her church, and intimately close to her family and friends … for thirty-two years.
Let me encourage you today to remain. God wants you to be both faithful and fruitful for Him and for His glory. You can only do that by remaining. History is full of the sad stories of those who quit or turned back too soon. Don’t join the ranks of those who lived and died with regrets.
Instead, determine you are going to be one who remains.
© 2016. Barry L. Cameron
Barry L. Cameron has been the Senior Pastor of Crossroads since 1992 when the church was averaging 188 in morning worship. Pastor Cameron and his wife, Janis, have three children and two grandsons. He’s the author of the bestseller: The ABCs of Financial Freedom, Contagious Generosity, and The Financial Freedom Workbook. The Cameron family has been completely debt free since November 2001.