“Each According to His Ability”
Warren E. Berkley

It was in 1957, 1958 and 1959 that my Daddy thought I should work as a hawker in the Arkansas-Oklahoma Rodeo, in Ft. Smith, Arkansas. {“Hawker,” not “Hacker!”}

See, Daddy could never abide me being idle during the summer. No sleeping till noon or just horsing around the neighborhood. I needed to do chores, clean the garage and shop, do odd jobs for odd neighbors or something. There was time to play, but that was usually after time to work.

So, the Rodeo came to town every summer and several boys were hired to be hawkers. You would carry around a wooden box filled with popcorn, Cracker Jacks or Coke-a-Cola, up and down the aisles of Rogers Stadium and hawk (yell and sell) your products. Then run back to the wholesale trailer for accounting and re-load.

The first night of the rodeo, the wholesaler would set up a trailer and we would report to him to get our load. The wholesaler would “size up” the boys and decide on our “load capacity.” The bigger boys, for example, might carry a whole case of pop iced down into the stands. The smaller boys (like me) would get a wooden box loaded with popcorn, cracker jacks or cotton candy. “Load capacity” was arbitrarily decided by the “sizing up” of the wholesaler.

As a hawker with a lighter load, I could have felt demeaned and discouraged. There was some temptation to be less zealous if you had less product. I was not discouraged. See, I had my own advantage: I was a loud mouth. Hawking was not just about inventory, but volume. (One old guy bought my entire load of cracker jacks one year, just to shut me up!).

See folks, even if you are given less or perceive that you have less to offer, you can do your best with what you have.

It reminds me of this: “…each according to his ability,” (Matt. 25:15).

Do your best with what you have!


Eccl. 10:18

The words of the preacher/writer show a sub-theme in Ecclesiastes ten: his observations about a land (nation) and the king (leader). This is developed in Eccl. 10:16-20. Part of that is this statement: “Because of laziness the building decays, and through idleness of hands the house leaks.” As applied by leaders and in nations, it is not wise to wait for problems to occur, then quickly put together some remedy. There needs to be a pro-active emphasis on prevention. One good step in that direction is the simple work of maintenance.

Among other things, I’ve always preached maintenance to my children. They were taught to clean their rooms, organize their belongings and keep their toys in working condition (for at least a week). Later, I trained them in the “old school” of car owners: change the oil every 3,000 miles or three months; follow the manufacturer’s maintenance schedule; rotate tires; have brakes checked regularly. The typical response was, “I can’t afford to do all of this maintenance.” My answer was, “you cannot afford not to maintain the vehicle.”

An absence of maintenance can kill a local church. While building maintenance ought to have a place, that’s not the kind of maintenance I’m writing about here. Maintenance in the local church must take the form of good oversight (1 Pet. 5:2), reverent order in worship (1 Cor. 14:40), discipline (1 Cor. 5; 2 Thess. 3:14) and sound teaching (Titus 1:9, 2:1). When any of this work is slighted by idleness or corruption, “the building decays.”

Maintenance is crucial to the quality of marriage. Marriages do not automatically grow stronger over time. Both must be committed to the Lord and each other, then grow together in that commitment. Both must humbly admit their mistakes and seek forgiveness. Both must learn the patience of Christ and show the love He displayed. Both must refuse the destructive worldly influences, the temptations of the workplace, and the consuming career orientation that can gradually erode the relationship. Both must made adjustments, learn from experience and forgive. A periodic marriage check-up may show neglect that needs action. Get up daily, honor your mate, work on the relationship and seek God’s help. “Marriage is honorable among all, and the bed undefiled; but fornicators and adulterers God will judge,” (Heb. 13:4). Fail in this and “the building decays.”

Let each of us stand fast in the purpose of personal maintenance. Many become alienated from God gradually through years of simple neglect. Bible reading is left undone; prayer is only said in crisis; attendance becomes a Sunday morning ritual; we loose sight of the value of the gospel and we let the world dominate who we are. Through lack of personal maintenance, we trample the Son of God underfoot, count the blood of the covenant unworthy and insult the Spirit of grace (Heb. 10:29). If you fear this could happen to you, get busy now before “the building decays.” “For bodily exercise profits a little, but godliness is profitable for all things, having promise of the life that now is and of that which is to come,” (1 Tim. 4:8).

“Attention to the counsels and admonitions of God’s Word cannot fail to be serviceable in delivering us from temptations to slothfulness.” (D. Thomas, Pulpit Commentary, Prov. 10:18, Homilies).