When Will It Be Your Turn?|
The Bible tells us that the church of Jesus Christ is a self-edifying body. In Ephesians 4:11-16, Paul declared that the Lord has equipped His church with talented members for the purpose of the church’s edification in truth and love. Consider verses 11 and 12: “He gave some as apostles, and some as prophets, and some as evangelists, and some as pastors and teachers, for the equipping of the saints for the work of service, to the building up of the body of Christ.” Notice that the apostles, prophets, evangelists, pastors, and teachers are not to do all of the church’s edifying, but they are to equip the saints “for the work of service.” Not every member of the church is an apostle (the apostles died long ago), a prophet (spiritual gifts have ceased – 1Cor. 13:8-13), an evangelist, a pastor, or a teacher, but all members are saints, and therefore all members are to be involved in the work of service and the edification of the body. This is stated explicitly in verse 16, which says that “the proper working of each individual part” in connection with Christ “causes the growth of the body for the building up of itself in love.”
Therefore, it behooves each member of the Lord’s church to recognize his or her responsibilities in the work of edification in the church. This means that each one of us needs to perform a self-evaluation to see whether we are living up to the Lord’s expectations. Remember, it was not the Lord’s intentions for the whole church to depend on the efforts of only a few members. If many of the church’s members neglect their responsibilities, then the whole body will suffer and fail to function properly.
Consider these questions, and evaluate yourself regarding your responsibility in the church. Are you a leader, or do you always need to be led by someone else? Are you a teacher, or do you always need to be taught by someone else? Do you present a good example, or do you always need to see someone else’s example before you can act? Do you give encouragement to others, or do you always need someone else to lift you up? Are you a giver, or do you always let someone else do the giving? When you think of the church, do you think, “What can I do for the church?”, or do you think, “What can the church do for me?”
The fact is that each of us has something to contribute to the Lord’s body. Young men should be examples of godly speech, conduct, love, faith and purity (1Tim. 4:12; Tit. 2:7-8). Young women should exemplify honor for the word of God through their obedience to God’s instructions (Tit. 2:4-5). Older men and elders should provide leadership through godly words and exemplary behavior (1Tim. 3:1-6; Tit. 1:7-9; 2:2). Older women should exemplify reverent behavior and provide teaching and encouragement for younger women (Tit. 2:3-4). Even children should do their part by being obedient to their parents according to the will of God (Eph. 6:1-3). Beyond these categories, there are the broad, general instructions of God’s word that apply to all Christians in the work of edification and love. The point is that there is work for all of us in the Lord’s body, and we all need to be doing it.
Perhaps we have made the mistake of thinking that the work of the church happens only within the assemblies. If this is the case, then we errantly think that Christians who do not teach classes, preach sermons, or lead in singing, prayer, or some other act of worship have no work to do in the church. This is a grievous error, for the truth is that nearly all of the work of Christians happens outside of the assemblies. It takes more than four hours per week in church to serve the Lord.
Dear Christian, if you not participating in its work, then why are you waiting? If you have been letting others carry the load for you, then when will it be your turn? Have you been making excuses? You may not have the same talents as other members, but do you use the talents that you do have to edify your brethren (Matt. 25:14-30)? You may feel that you do not have the knowledge or experience to teach others, but are you working to get that knowledge and experience (Heb. 5:11-14)? How long will it take you to be ready? You are well aware of all of your own burdens, but do you know about the burdens of your brethren (Gal. 6:2)? Is your load so heavy that you cannot help another?
When you think about these things, be honest with yourself. All of us are limited, and it may be that you really cannot do more than you are doing. God does not expect more from you than you are able to do, but He does give you certain talents, abilities, and opportunities. Consider 2Corinthians 9:10 – “Now He who supplies seed to the sower and bread for food will supply and multiply your seed for sowing and increase the harvest of your righteousness.” Use God’s blessings as a good steward working in His vineyard. You cannot do everything, but you can do something in the work of the Lord. It is your turn right now.
Stacey E. Durham
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