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Ephesians 4:16 – The body works effectively when every part does its share. This causes growth of the body, so it can edify itself in love.
In nearly every congregation, some members do most of the work while others do relatively little. Sometimes we become comfortable with allowing other people to do the work when we really should be helping.
From time to time events in a congregation remind us that each Christian must consider whether there are ways he/she can improve and accomplish more in the work of the congregation. We should always be willing to examine ourselves, but some events especially challenge us to consider our work.
Where can you improve? What can you begin doing that you are not doing now? What work can you help accomplish or help improve, instead of leaving it to others? We will especially notice passages that emphasize that every Christian must do his or her best.
Consider first general passages that describe our duty to obey God and work in His service.
Luke 6:40 – “Every” disciple, when he is perfected (mature) shall be like his teacher or master. The goal of every disciple is to become like Jesus.
Romans 2:6-10 – At the judgment, God will render to “every” man according to “his” deeds. To receive eternal life, “every” man must continue patiently doing good. But “every” man who fails to do good will receive tribulation and anguish.
Matthew 7:24-27 – “Everyone” who does not follow the Lord’s commands is like a man who builds a house on the sand. “Whosoever” obeys is like one who builds on the rock.
Suppose you made a contract to have a new house built, and when you moved in you found walls, roof, doors, and windows, but no foundation: the floor was just laid on the ground. When you complained to the builder, suppose he said you don’t need a foundation because several other people on your street have one. Would you be satisfied? Jesus said every house needs a spiritual foundation consisting of obedience to His teachings.
Suppose you owned a dairy farm, and certain cows reliably show up every milking time and give milk generously. But some cows consistently fail to show up ½ or 1/3 of the time, and when they do come they give little. Would you just overlook it because other cows are giving? If these were just calves, you would give them time to grow up. But if they’d been around for years and still didn’t give, you’d save the ones that give and eliminate the rest, right?
Piling the work load on one or a few members, while we do far less than what we could do, simply is not acceptable. Each individual Christian is responsible to work in God’s service to the very best of our ability. The fact that other people are working does not excuse us from doing what we can. If others are not working as they should, that too does not excuse us from working. The Lord expects each one of us to do our best, not to leave the work to others.
Please consider the work that needs to be done in this congregation. Is there more that you could be doing? Are there areas where you can improve? Are you allowing other people to do work in which you really could be helping? If all the members work like you work, how much would this church accomplish?
Remember, Jesus requires every part of the body to do his share.
[See also Mark 13:34-37; 2 Corinthians 5:10; 1 John 3:3; 2:15,29; 3:10; 1 Peter 1:17; Revelation 20:13; 22:12; Matthew 16:27; 25:15; Galatians 6:4,5; 1 Thessalonians 5:5; 4:4; Hebrews 12:14,15; 3:12f; 4:1,11; 1 Corinthians 9:25; 2 Timothy 2:19; 2 John 9.]
John 18:37 – “Everyone” who is of the truth must hear Jesus’ voice. Truth frees us from sin (John 8:32); but to be set free, each one must hear Jesus. [Compare Acts 20:31; 11:23.]
Colossians 1:28 – Paul admonished and taught “every” man, so he could present “every” man perfect in Christ. Every Christian needs to study and learn God’s word.
I had a friend in college who built a TV. He bought a kit with all the parts and an instruction manual. Imagine that we were part of a group that was required to build a TV, but none of us knew anything about how to do it. Fortunately, we have a kit with all the parts and a manual that provides all the information we need written in a way that each one of us could understand it. Would it make sense to try to do the job without studying that manual?
So, each of us must obey God, but the only way to do so is to know His will. Fortunately, He has given the perfect manual. Isn’t it foolish to try to serve Him without studying the manual?
John 17:20,21 – Jesus prayed for “all” who believe in Him to be one as He and His Father are one. The Father and Son have the same will (John 12:49,50). Both teach the same about what we should practice. We can be united, like the Father and Son are, only if we all know God’s will.
1 Corinthians 1:10 – “All” should speak the same thing, without divisions. To achieve this unity, we must all accept the one true faith (Ephesians 4:3-6). It is not enough just to be united; we must be united in truth.
Unity can be accomplished only if everybody studies the truth. Unity is everybody’s business. If just one or a few neglect to study, they will not know the truth, and the result will inevitably be error and division.
Suppose each of us was assigned part of that TV to build, and all the parts must fit and work together. We have meetings to study the manual, but some consistently miss. We give each person a copy of the plans, but some don’t study. What are the chances everything will work together as it should?
Unity requires everyone to study the word of God. It is not enough to let other people do the studying. Each individual must study the Bible for themselves.
Consider what this means about Bible study.
Romans 14:10-12 – “All” must stand before God in the judgment, and “each” will give account of “himself” to God.
John 12:48 – The standard of judgment is Jesus’ word.
Suppose you had to build your part of the TV according to the manual, and suppose you were perfectly capable of understanding the manual. Now suppose your life hung in the balance: build it right and you live; if not, you die! Would you be satisfied just knowing that other people had read the manual? Wouldn’t you want to read it yourself?
You are just as responsible to study the Bible as is every other Christian. If you don’t need to study, neither does anyone else. If others need to study, then so do you. And your eternal destiny will be determined by whether or not you know what is in the book and obey it.
If everyone studied as diligently as you, how unified would this church be and how well prepared would we be for the judgment?
[2 Corinthians 5:10; Romans 2:6-10; John 5:28,29; 1 Corinthians 4:5; etc.]
1 Peter 4:10,11 – Each one should serve one another [compare 5:5].
Galatians 5:13 – Through love serve one another.
Matthew 25:34-36 – Jesus will judge the service we render to others: did we help the sick, the needy, the imprisoned, etc.? Remember we will each be judged for what we personally did (verse 32). Our eternal destiny depends on our service.
Years ago, our kids were in 4-H and had entries in the fair. In a 4-H fair, each entrant is judged for his own work. You do not get a blue ribbon just because other people around you did good work. In fact, if they do good work and you do not, the difference is obvious.
So your service will not be accepted at the judgment just because others in the congregation did good work. God will judge you individually. Every Christian is just as responsible as every other Christian to love and serve others. If you don’t need to serve others, than neither does anyone else. If others do need to serve, then so do you.
Please consider the needs of other members in this congregation.
Consider those who have health issues, those who are widows, those who may be struggling with financial issues, those who may be dealing with mistreatment from others.
Consider work that needs to be done around the building, work to maintain the facilities, work to clean the building, prepare the communion set, etc.
Is there more that you could be doing? Are there areas where you can improve? Do you remember to pray diligently for the needs of other Christians? Is there work that needs to be done and you really could be helping, but you are just allowing other people to do it? If everyone here served to the same extent of their ability that you do, how much love and service would there be in this congregation?
[See also Acts 11:29; 2:44; 4:32-35; 1 Corinthians 16:2; 2 Corinthians 9:7; Philippians 2:4,5; Matthew 18:35; Colossians 3:13; Romans 12:3-8; Luke 18:14; 1 John 3:10,16-18.]
“Any one” of us may develop an evil heart of unbelief, fall away from God, or be hardened by the deceit of sin. So, we must exhort “one another” day by day. This is a regular, frequent need that each of us has in our daily lives.
How many people does the passage say need to be exhorted? “Any” or “one another,” which means all. How many need to give exhortation? The same ones that receive it: “any” or “one another,” which means all.
All should be present in the church assemblies to give and to receive exhortation, and we should encourage one another at other times too. You must be actively involved on a regular basis.
Please look at the passage! We “grow up in Christ” (become perfect or mature) by “speaking the truth in love.” The church is built up when the “whole body,” “every joint,” “every part” does its share. This is “effective working.” This is done especially when we are assembled together, but also at other times.
Are you doing your “share”? How much of this work have you been doing, and what can you do more?
** Attend all assemblies and classes the church conducts for everyone?
** Arrive on time?
** Develop abilities to lead and volunteer to participate?
** Prepare diligently for any leadership roles you have?
** Prepare for class so you can make useful comments?
** Invite people to attend worship assemblies and gospel meetings?
** Greet visitors at church meetings and invite them to return?
** Teach Bible class?
** Invite people to have Bible study at home?
** Visit, call, or write new, weak, discouraged, or erring members to encourage them?
** Encourage our young people and help them grow?
** As an older women, teach younger women about their family duties (Titus 2:4,5)?
** Pass out tracts or literature?
** Study the Bible daily with your children at home?
** Speak words of encouragement to others for their work?
How involved are you really in the work of the body? Are you so involved in other things that God never required you to do, that you are neglecting the work that God does require of you? When people consistently miss church meetings that they could attend, almost invariably the problem is that they are simply not as dedicated as they should be to their spiritual responsibilities.
Every Christian is required to be actively involved in teaching and encouraging other Christians. There is simply too much work for just a few to accomplish. There is so much more work that could be done and that needs to be done. The question for you is: What can you do in the future in addition to what you have been doing in the past? Where can you improve and become more active in service?
If all members were active to the extent of their ability like you are, how well would this church be built up?
To the extent of his ability and opportunity, a Christian is responsible to help in the service of God. But he is not responsible to do what he truly is not able to do.
2 Corinthians 8:12 – For if there is first a willing mind, it is accepted according to what one has, and not according to what he does not have. Notice the lessons being taught:
* First, there must be a willing mind. God knows our hearts. He knows if we want to do the best that we can. He also knows if we are trying to avoid work and would really prefer to do other things instead. Do we have a willing mind?
* Second, God expects us to do what we can: it is accepted according to what we have. If we have the ability and opportunity, then to be accepted by God we must do what we can.
* Third, God does not expect us to do what we are not able to do. God does not require us to give what we do not have. The application in context refers to financial giving, but the same principle applies to all of our service to God.
We should not feel guilty if there is something that we really are not able to do. And we should not overburden ourselves to the point that we become overstressed or are so overcommitted that we are not able to do effectively the things that we need to do.
Too often Christians want others to carry the load. We expect the supported preacher, elders, class teachers, and others to be deeply involved in the work. We may even suggest work for them to do, while we ourselves are not doing as much as we could.
1 John 4:9-11 – In this the love of God was manifested toward us, that God has sent His only begotten Son into the world, that we might live through Him. In this is love, not that we loved God, but that He loved us and sent His Son to be the propitiation for our sins. Beloved, if God so loved us, we also ought to love one another.
The sacrifice of Jesus teaches us the principle of love and the sacrifice that we need to learn. What did God give to meet our needs? Did He give just what would not cost Him much or require much effort, or did He give the very best that He had and would constitute a serious sacrifice?
Are we showing love for God and for others the way God shows love for us? Are we doing the best that we can? Is there work you are not doing now that you could begin doing or that you could do more or do better? Where can you improve in your work for the Lord and in this congregation?
Are you a Christian? Have you begun your service to God? If not, why not determine now to begin?
(c) Copyright David E. Pratte, 2018
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Scripture quotations are generally from the New King James Version (NKJV), copyright 1982, 1988 by Thomas Nelson, Inc. used by permission. All rights reserved.