Speaking where the bible speaks, and silent where the bible is silent.

Religious Titles

There are many who refer to any preacher as “Reverend” or “Rev.” They are trying to show respect and courtesy toward them, but by doing so they are breaking the law of God. Such religious titles are commonly worn by the “clergy” of the denominations and, judging the churches of Christ to be just another denomination, they refer to gospel preachers just like they refer to the denominational clergy. I refuse to accept the religious titles commonly worn by denominational clergymen. Here are the reasons why I reject the wearing of religious titles:

There is No New Testament Authority for the Practice

Though there were many gospel preachers in the first century, not one of them accepted and wore a religious title. I cannot read where Paul was ever called “Reverend Paul,” Peter was never called “Archbishop Peter,” James was never called “Pope James,” Timothy was never called “Pastor Timothy,” or John was never referred to as “The Right Reverend, Dr. John.” The wearing of religious titles is a practice that arose centuries later. They were never worn with the approval of God by those in the Lord’s church. Consequently, I refuse to go beyond the things which God has revealed that we should do in our worship of Him (2 Jn. 9-11 ff; 1 Cor. 4:6; 1 Pet. 4:11; Rev. 22:18-19).

Wearing Religious Titles is Expressly Condemned

The Lord Jesus forbade the practice when He said, “But be not you called Rabbi; for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren. And call no man your father upon the earth: for one is your Father, which is in heaven. Neither be you called masters: for one is your Master, even Christ (Matt. 23:8-10).

The wearing of religious titles to elevate one brother above another was soundly condemned by Jesus. The practice is contrary to the spirit of Christianity that “all you are brethren.”

Long ago Job said, “Let me not, I pray you, accept any man’s person, neither let me give flattering titles unto man. For I know not to give flattering titles; in so doing my maker would soon take me away” (Job 32:21-22).

Wearing Religious Titles Exalts Man too Highly

Paul warned us “not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another” (1 Cor. 4:6). Man should not be an object of worship. Peter would not allow Cornelius to bow to him (Acts 10:26); an angel would not allow John to worship him (Rev. 22:9). Man steps outside his proper bounds of his habitation when he allows himself to be worshiped.

When man exalts himself through flattering titles such as “reverend,” “right reverend,” “worshipful master … .. most worshipful,” etc., he encourages others to offer praise to him, rather than giving praise to God. In this practice, man sins.

Wearing Religious Titles Exalts One Brother Above Another

Jesus condemned the scribes and Pharisees saying that they “love the uppermost rooms at feasts, and the chief seats in the synagogues, and greetings in the markets, and to be called of men, Rabbi. But be not you called Rabbi: for one is your Master, even Christ; and all you are brethren” (Matt. 23:6-8). By “all you are brethren,” Jesus forbade exalting one brother above another (also see Gal. 3:27-28 f; Jam. 2:14).

Wearing Religious Titles Contributes to a Clergy-laity Distinction

The first century church did not have a clergy separate from the members. In the apostolic Church no abstract distinction of clergy and laity, as to privilege or sanctity, was known; all believers were called to the prophetic, priestly, and kingly offices in Christ. The Jewish antithesis of clergy and laity was at first unknown among Christians; and it was ‘only as men fell back from the evangelical to the Jewish point of view’ that the idea of the general Christian priesthood of all believers gave place, more or less completely, to that of the special priesthood or clergy.

In the years since the New Testament was written, a clergy has developed. The clergy is composed of those ordained for performance of Christian worship and teaching. The ordained clergy has these jobs to perform; (1) interpret the Bible for the people, (2) administer the sacraments (usually defined as the Lord’s supper, baptism, marriage, etc.), and (3) administer excommunication.

Only those who meet certain qualifications can become part of the clergy. In the Presbyterian denomination, a man must have a diploma from college, a diploma from an approved seminary, and be willing to submit to the teachings of their accepted creeds in order to become a member of their clergy. The Wesleyan Methodists encourage their men to attend a 4-year ministerial school operated by their denomination, hold membership in the Wesleyan Church and pass an examination from their denominational hierarchy. Neither Jesus nor one of His apostles could have been part of the clergy of the modern denominations of men.

The establishment of a clergy undermines the New Testament concept that all believers are priests (1 Pet. 2:5, 9), having the right to approach God directly in worship without the intervention of a human intermediary. Jesus is the only High Priest we need through whom to approach God (Heb. 2:17-3:1). Every man can read and understand the Bible. He has no need for an official interpretation by a church official.

The only biblical passages which could be used to authorize a separate priesthood must be found in the Old Testament. To appeal to those passages for authority for a separate priesthood is to revert to Judaism with its animal sacrifices, rather than accepting the all-sufficiency of the blood of Christ as revealed in the New Testament.

Noted Religious Titles Worn Today

Here are some of the religious titles which men wear today. All of them are unauthorized by the New Testament.

Pope Father

Reverend Right Reverend

Bishop Archbishop

Cardinal Pastor

The New Testament teaching on wearing religious titles condemns the practices of most denominations.

New Testament Terms Show What A Man Does

A man is a “doctor” because he doctors the sick; a man is a plumber because he plumbs; a man is an architect because he builds. These terms explain what a man does and are not titles. In the same way, the New Testament uses terms to describe what men do. A preacher (1 Tim. 2:7 f; 2 Tim. 1:11) preaches (2 Tim. 4:2). An evangelist (Eph. 4:11 f; 2 Tim. 4:5) evangelizes. (There is no difference in a preacher and an evangelist in the New Testament.) Overseers (Acts 20:28, sometimes translated “bishops”) oversee a local congregation. “Pastors” (Eph. 4:11) tend or shepherd a flock (Acts 20:28 f; 1 Pet. 5:1-3). These are not religious titles to exalt one brother over another; they are descriptive terms which tell what a man does.

A preacher does not oversee the affairs of a local church and is never called “The Pastor” in the New Testament. Bishops, overseers, pastors and elders are different terms for the same work – the work of guiding and directing the affairs of a local church. This office or work is limited to the local church and is not to be confused with the evangelistic labors of a preacher. A preacher has no right or authority from God to pastor or oversee a church; therefore he is not properly called “The Pastor.” God ordained that each local church has a plurality of elders, bishops, or pastors – men chosen within the local membership – to oversee the local congregation. Preachers are not to usurp that office for themselves. Like all other members in a local church, the preacher serves under bishops, elders, or pastors. If we properly understand the work of a preacher and the work of a pastor, we will not confuse the two terms.

Conclusion: A generation which does not learn the thoughts and language of New Testament Christianity will soon imbibe the thoughts and language of modern denominationalism. Like the Israelites in Nehemiah’s day who began speaking the speech of Ashdod (Neh. 13:24), untaught Christians will begin speaking the language of denominationalism.

We will do well to be reminded of the danger of wearing religious titles, even in incipient form, among us. Sometimes men who have academic degrees are advertised as gospel preachers with these titles: “Dr. . .” The term “brother,” which is used in the Bible to refer to a relationship sustained by all Christians, is sometimes reserved only for the preacher. Others are introduced by their names but the preacher is introduced as “Brother .” We must never forget that “all you are brethren” (Matt. 23:8).

The wearing of religious titles is a practice condemned of God. Let us avoid every form of evil (1 Thess. 5:21). Let us resolve to call no man father who is not our fleshly parent, who is neither married nor has children (1 Cor. 4:15); to call no man reverend (Ps 11:9); to call no man pastor who does not meet the qualifications of 1 Timothy 3 and Titus 1, but usurps to himself the rule over a local congregation; to call no man bishop who oversees a plurality of churches unknown to God’s word; to call no man cardinal who exalts himself as if he held a chief office in the church; and to call no man pope for God alone is our Father (Matt 23:9).

Let God alone be exalted among those who profess to serve Him.

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Marriage is on the “endangered species” list in this country. The fact that so many marriages in our country end in divorce gives me great concern. Yet, it seems as if the respect for marriage among the general population continues to decline. This is truly sad.

Why is it that marriages so often fail? Some reasons for failed marriages include: money problems, infidelity,religious incompatibility, immaturity, physical abuse, emotional abuse, drunkenness, drug abuse, etc. Many other reasons could be given as to the cause for divorces today. Sadly I believe these are but symptoms of the actual problem. At the root of all marriage problems is sin! Let us understand friends that anytime a marriage ends in divorce, someone (or both) has sinned!

I have made the observation before that it seems like people spend more time preparing for their wedding than they do their marriage! People spend more time and energy worrying about a single day which is here and gone than they do the lifetime that follows, and all the changes that come as a result. To the married folks, may I suggest we do a better job in teaching our children about marriage. To those not yet married, may I suggest that this is the time to be preparing for that potential mate.

Why say this? It is because our preparation for marriage now will go far in helping us make sure we have a marriage that will stand the test of time, and truly be a marriage “’til death do us part” (Rom. 7:2-3)! What can we do to have a godly marriage?

Make These Principles A Part Of Marriage

I think the following principles are recognized as necessary for living a “quiet and peaceable” life among men; but seldom do we realize such principles ought to be first practiced in the home. May we realize that the following characteristics are necessary in the home:

1. Love Your Neighbor As Yourself

(Matt. 22:39). When a lawyer asked Jesus “Who is my neighbor?” the parable Christ spoke showed that all men are our neighbors (Lk 10:29-37). Since this is true, ought not this love for our neighbor begin at home? I think so!

2. Treat Each Other As You Want

To Be Treated (Matt. 7:12). Folks have often called this passage “The Golden Rule.” I think we fail to realize that “the Golden Rule” applies at home just as it applies toward those who are strangers, or neighbors down the street!

3. Love One Another (Col. 3:14)

If one wants to see a great example of love, look to Christ (John 15:13). In connection with this, Paul said the exact same thing when he told husbands to “love your wives, even as Christ loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph. 5:25). Husbands, to what extent do you love your wives, and how do you show this love? “So ought men to love their wives as their own bodies. He that loves his wife loves himself” (Eph.5:28).

4. Godly Speech  (Eph. 4:25, 29, 31)

In this category, I would include honesty (Col. 3:9), as well as speaking in a kind way to your spouse and children. Our children and spouses deserve honesty in this relationship. Children need to see fathers and mothers who speak words of truth to each other as well as to them. Spouses deserve to be told the truth. This is certainly the least that could be done. Implicit trust ought to be present in each and every family. When folks lack trust in the family, this leads to a multitude of problems.

Just as there are dishonest souls, sadly, it seems that we often reserve our kindest words for those outside our families; while those who ought to get our kindest treatment get the worst. The need for kind and godly speech toward spouses and children ought to go without saying! Let us read Ephesians 4:25-31 again. What kind word could you say to your spouse? What good word might you speak to your children? Let us think seriously about this and make applications in our family today!

5. Teaching the Truth at Home (2 Tim. 2:2)

Sometimes, when Christians are encouraged to teach others the truth, the reply is heard, “I can’t talk to strangers. I don’t know how.” If we know what we did to become a Christian, can we not tell others about it? I believe we can! At the same time, if speaking to strangers bothers you, why not start your work by teaching those you know! Let us take time to teach our little ones, as well as study together with our spouse. Don’t be afraid! Do we not love our family? Do we not want them to go to Heaven? “Perfect love casts out fear” (1 Jn 4:18)!

Paul said that fathers have a responsibility to bring their children up “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Eph.6:4). This has to do with teaching! Mothers are to teach their children, too (Tit. 2:4-5). How can one say he has a godly marriage and home if it is not based on God’s word?

6. Do Not Place Money Or Possessions Before Your Family  (1 Tim. 6:10)

One of the quickest ways to destroy a marriage is to pursue money and/or possessions. Often, when folks do this, they end up destroying a marriage! This is not mere speculation, but statistics show that 57% of all divorces are caused by money problems. In connection with this, of the total number of divorces in this country, some 70% of divorced couples said a contributing factor to their divorce was money problems.

Seeing that these facts are true, does it not become even more obvious why Paul would write, “For the love of money is the root of all evil: which while some coveted after, they have erred from the faith, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows” (1 Tim. 6:10)? The family who seeks God’s kingdom and righteousness first (Matt. 6:33) can avoid many of the problems now facing our “modern day” married couples! Think about it!

Realize the Seriousness and Permanency of Marriage

Many problems come into a married life as a result of folks thinking that the marriage relationship is “easy come easy go.” This is simply not true! God intended that man “leave” father and mother and “cleave” to his wife (Gen. 2:24 f; Matt. 19:4-6). When a man and woman get married, God expects this relationship to last for the rest of their life (Rom. 7:2-3). The seriousness and permanency of marriage is second only to the seriousness and permanency of becoming a Christian.

When we are made aware of this fact, perhaps this will be a wake-up call to those still dating. While dating others is a special time in the life of young men and young ladies, please realize that a reason for dating is to look for a potential mate. At the same time, dating a person is not the same as being married to them! The Holy Spirit said that those not married must keep themselves pure and flee from fornication (1 Cor. 6:18). “Marriage is honorable in all, and the bed undefiled: but whoremongers and adulterers God will judge” (Heb. 13:4).

Is the person you are dating someone you could seriously consider marrying? Is the person you are dating someone with whom you are sharing your faith? Is the person you are dating treating you well? Is he/she a drinker? Does the person you are dating consider marriage and the home as permanent as you do? Is the person you are dating making unwelcome/sinful advances, or trying to get you to take actions which are reserved for married people? These are questions which demand an answer. May we find mates whose interest in following God is equal to our interest. Remember, Christians who marry are “heirs together of the grace of life” (1 Pet. 3:7) and both need to help one another go to Heaven! Consider this well!

Conclusion: Sadly, as we observe our society, we are seeing marriage on the decline. Godly marriages are needed across this land and this world. Mothers and fathers need to be showing their children what a godly marriage looks like. There needs to be Bible teaching taking place in each home. Will you make the decision today to pattern your marriage after the godly principles we have studied?

How often we are told that the Bible cannot be understood the same. Many excuse religious division on the premises that the Bible cannot be understood. I am a firm believer that if the bible is understood at all, it will be understood alike. Christians in the first century understood God’s word. They were united in name, organization, worship, doctrine, faith, and practice (Acts 2:42). The apostle Paul commanded, “Now I beseech you brethren by the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that you all speak the same thing and that there be no division among you, but that you be perfectly joined together in the same mind and in the same judgement” (1 Cor. 1:10). Again Paul said, “Wherefore be you not unwise, but understanding what the will of the Lord is” (Eph. 5:17). Biblical history attests the fact that man has never had a problem understanding God’s word. Adam and Eve understood what God had said (Gen. 3:1-3). Noah understood how to build the ark (Gen 6:13-22). Naaman understood the command to “dip seven times in the Jordan River” (2 Kin 5:10-12). God’s command is just as easy and simple to understand today as it was then.

People Are Divided Over What The Bible Does Not Say

All agree that singing is authorized and it is right to sing in our worship service (Eph. 5:19 ff; Col. 3:16; Heb. 2:12). Even so, division still exists today over the using of instrumental music in worship. The Bible does not say anything about using instrumental music in New Testament worship. There is not a single command or example that authorizes the practice. The apostles set the order of the first century churches and they never used instrumental music. If God had commanded them to use it, they would have obeyed Him. Since they did not use instrumental music, it is evident that God did not authorize it. We are divided over something the Bible says nothing about! The controversy would immediately end if everyone would accept only what the Bible teaches.

When we come to the subject of baptism, all agree that it is scriptural to baptize penitent believers. But we disagree on infant baptism and sprinkling. Why? There is not one case of infant baptism in the word of God, nor is there one case of someone being sprinkled and calling it baptism. Jesus said, “Go you therefore, and teach all nations, baptizing them in the name of the Father, and of the Son, and of the Holy Spirit” (Matt. 28:19). You cannot baptize a person until you first teach that person, and infants cannot be taught the word of God. What is boils down to is that division exists over something the Bible says nothing about! If all would accept only what the Bible says concerning baptism, unity would prevail.

All agree that the Lord’s church can scripturally engage in the following works: preaching the gospel, providing for poor saints, edification (1 Thess. 1:8 ff; Acts 4:34-35; 6:1-7; 1 Tim. 5:16; Eph. 4:11-16). The division exists in the Lord’s church today, not over what the Bible teaches, but over things not even mentioned in the word of God – namely, church sponsored recreation and entertainment, churches engaging in secular business, and sponsoring church type of cooperation. There are no Scriptures that authorizes the church to engage in such things. We agree on what the Bible teaches, but we disagree and are divided over things that are not taught in the word of God. Where in the Bible can one read about the Lord’s church sponsoring entertainment, recreation, engaging in secular business, etc.?

We can understand what the Bible says if we study it carefully with an open mind and a readiness to obey. We must learn to respect God’s silence. We must also be willing to be guided by what the Bible says and not by what it does not say (Deut. 29:29). We must not go beyond what is written (1 Cor 4:6). We must speak only the oracles of God (1 Pet 4:11). We must not add to or take from God’s Word (Rev 22:18,19). We shall all be judged by Jesus in the last day by what the bible actually said, but not by what it never said (Jn. 12:48 f; Rom 2:16).

There is new talk in the world of science which promotes the idea that mankind can live forever in his present estate. They state in part that through blood transfusions man will be eternally youthful and only die via accidents and killing, etc. Sounds like someone has been over dosing on Hallucinogenic drugs. Sounds good, but living forever on planet earth is an impossibility.

Man has been in search of the fountain of youth ever since God kicked him out of the Garden of Eden. It was there that God had the Tree of life. Yes, God wants mankind to live forever, but He has conditions. Let us examine the two things which has eternal life, and the one who has been conditionally promised eternal life (Tit 1:2).

God Is Eternal

“Thus says the LORD, the King of Israel, And his Redeemer, the LORD of hosts: ‘I am the First and I am the Last; Besides Me there is no God” (Isa. 44:6). This quality suggests that God’s nature is eternal, without beginning and without end. He is before all things and will still be after all things. “Listen to Me, O Jacob, And Israel, My called: I am He, I am the First, I am also the Last” (Isa. 48:12). This expression is likewise spoken of Christ in the New Testament, “And when I saw Him, I fell at His feet as dead. But He laid His right hand on me, saying to me, ‘Do not be afraid; I am the First and the Last’” (Rev. 1:17 cf. Rev. 1:8; 2:8; 22:13). Because Jehovah is the “First and the Last,” we should be fully trusting in committing our lives to Him. He survives all people, places and things, or perhaps better stated, “Nothing survives Him.” It accords with His name, Jehovah. He changes not; He weakens not; He ages not! He will be with us during the storm and after the storm, but of course, He was here before there were any storms! Likewise we read, “Who has performed and done it, calling the generations from the beginning? ‘I, the LORD, am the first; and with the last I am He’” (Isa. 41:4). Note carefully this alternative expression, “…and with the last I am He.” He is with the last and we might add, He is the same when He is with the last as He was with the first. “Jesus Christ is the same yesterday, today, and forever” (Heb. 13:8). Hence, the work which Jesus accomplished in the New Testament was known to Him before time began and was not something that He learned while on earth (2 Tim. 1:9).

Word Of God Is Eternal

The truth is eternal. This truth has existed in the mind of God from the beginning. Since God’s word is truth, and God is eternal, then truth must be eternal. Jesus said, “Heaven and earth shall pass away but my Word shall not pass away” (Matt 24:35). Peter wrote, “Being born again, not of corruptible seed, but of incorruptible, by the Word of God, which lives and abides for ever. For all flesh is as grass, and all the glory of man as the flower of grass. The grass withers, and the flower thereof falls away: But the Word of the Lord endures for ever. And this is the Word which by the gospel is preached unto you” (1 Pet 1:23-25 f; Isa 40:7-8).

How Mankind Can Live Forever

God is eternal, His Word is eternal, and if we want to live forever with God we must submit ourselves to His Word. In order to obtain the eternal life the bible speaks of, one must become obedient to the gospel and doctrine of Christ. Jesus commanded his apostles to go into all the world and preach the gospel to everyone (Mk 16:15). This gospel was defined as the death, burial, and resurrection of Jesus Christ (1 Cor 15:1-4). In order to obey this gospel one had to first hear it (Rom 10:17). Upon hearing the gospel one must believe that Jesus is the Christ with their heart and confess this belief with their mouth before men (Matt 10:32,33 f; Rom 10:9,10). Secondly, they must repent and be baptized for the remission of sins (Acts 2:38). Last, but not least, one must remain faithful unto death (Jn 8:31 f; Rev 2:10). This is the Will of God. As John wrote, “And the world is passing away, and the lust of it; but he who does the will of God abides forever.” (1 Jn 2:17).

The most valuable possessions in the world all mankind possess is  their own soul. Jesus said, “For what is a man profited, if he shall gain the whole world, and lose his own soul? Or what shall a man give in exchange for his soul?” (Matt. 16:26) Once we recognize the value of our soul and the value of the souls of others, we will want to do all we can to save souls.

Winning souls is thrilling, adds true meaning to life, and starts a fire burning Satan can’t extinguish. The reason many churches are dying is many Christians forgot how to win souls to Christ. Many have not experienced the joy found in winning souls.

Leading souls to Jesus Christ is simple. It takes love for God, the love of His Word, the love for the souls of others, and the love for our own soul. This love will cause us to examine the Scriptures and find the secrets of soul-winning. Notice how Andrew led a soul to Christ. “Again the next day after John stood and two of his disciples,- and looking upon Jesus as he walked, he saith, Behold the Lamb of God! And the two disciples heard him speak, and they followed Jesus. . . One of the two which heard John speak, and followed him, was Andrew, Simon Peter’s brother. He first finds his own brother Simon, and said unto him, We have found the Messiah, which is being interpreted, the Christ. And he brought him to Jesus” (Jn 1:35-42). Andrew led his brother to Christ by his enthusiasm in finding Christ, his joy in discipleship, his determination to find his brother, and his urgency in bringing him to Jesus.

Enthusiastic converts to Christ are the best soul-winners in all of the world. This enthusiasm can’t be taught in “how to” seminars. This enthusiasm comes from putting on Christ, being born again, or in other words from being saved. The convert truly being born again and knowing Christ is his Savior can’t help but be excited.

This enthusiasm causes one to be a joyful disciple. It’s refreshing to see new converts joyfully give up a life of sin and ask, “What else does Christ want me to do?” A disciple is a follower or one learning. Disciples want to work and the best time to begin working for Christ is immediately upon one’s conversion. There are plenty of people to teach the contacts and friends of new converts, so send them out and let them do all they can. If you are not a new convert just think about your own conversion to Christ as you work to tell others about salvation in Jesus Christ. Remember we are not “selling” the local church, we are “selling” Christ. People coming to Christ will of course see the need to be faithful, active members of his body, the church. They will want to work and worship with others of like precious faith. When folks are converted to Christ, churches in local communities will flourish.

Andrew didn’t wait for his brother to ask about Christ; he went out to find him. Too many are waiting in their offices for sinners to come and find them. Too many churches put an ad in the paper and look for the building to be full. We aren’t selling merchandise. People generally will not come to us, we must go to them. The personal touch works. You can’t see another’s joy and enthusiasm in mass media advertising. “And how shall they preach, except they be sent? as it is written, How beautiful are the feet of them that preach the gospel of peace, and bring glad tidings of good things!” (Rom. 10:15) Too many Christians expect the preacher to find the lost, and too many preachers have limited their teaching to the walls of a building. The Gospel message is a message to be taken to the world (Matt. 28:18-20 f; Mk. 16:15-16). A lot of men would do well to put down the denominational commentaries and lexicons, and take up the sword of the Spirit which is the word of God, and seek the souls of sinners.

As Andrew found his brother, he compelled him to come to Jesus. Notice he “brought him to Jesus.” Peter saw the urgency in Andrew’s face and heard the urgency in his voice. We know this because the text shows us that Peter did come to Christ. As we seek that which is lost, we need to remember the words of Paul, “Redeeming the time, because the days are evil” (Eph 5:16). Notice also the admonition of Paul in 2 Corinthians 6:2. “For he said, I have heard you in a time accepted, and in the day of salvation have I helped you: behold, now is the accepted time,- behold now is the day of salvation. ” All need to get busy now teaching others about Jesus Christ.

Like Andrew we will rejoice and those coming to Christ will rejoice as we lead others to Jesus Christ. Are you presently doing your best in leading others to Christ? Have you joyfully told your friends, family members, and fellow workers, what Christ means to you? Have you studied God’s word with them? Remember the power is in the gospel, and the daily lives of Christians is often what causes lost souls to look at the Bible which can save their souls (Rom. 1:16 f; Matt. 5:13-16). “The fruit of the righteous is a tree of life; and he that wins souls is wise” (Prov 11:30). If you are among the wise, lead a soul to Christ today!

It is not uncommon in various circles of life to see people take the approach of doing as little as possible – just do enough to complete a particular task, no more. It bad enough to see this in the world, but it goes beyond frustration to find that Christians do not put forth their greatest effort in the Lord’s Cause. They have joined the crowd that plans to do just as little as possible in practically any endeavor. These saints do not intend to break a sweat for God, they have no desire to put forth any “extra” time or money in God’s service, and they would appreciate it if the leaders of the local church would not bother them by asking them to participate in the activities of the congregation. They say that they want to please God and go to heaven, but their attitude and action demonstrate misunderstanding, apathy, and, laziness.

Do any of us honestly believe that when Jesus lived on the earth, His motto was, “When it comes to doing my Father’s will, I am going to do just as little as possible?” We would never draw such a conclusion from what we read about Him in the Bible. Jesus confessed that His “food” was to do the Father’s will (Jn 4:34), later adding, “For I have come down from heaven, not to do my own will, but the will of him who sent me” (Jn 6:38). No true imitator of the Son of God will approach God’s work with the idea of doing as little as possible.

A member of the church that does not give their best effort in serving the Lord is failing to do what He expects of every one of His followers. God’s charge to the first century Christians in Corinth was to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding the word of the Lord . . .” (1 Cor 15:58). We further read that God’s children are supposed to be “fervent in spirit” (Rom 12:11) and “zealous for good works” (Tit 2:14). Again, “fervent” and “zealous” are far removed from the pitiful approach of doing just as little as possible.

Jesus had something to say about entering a certain gate: “Strive to enter through the narrow gate, for many, I say to you, will seek to enter and will not be able” (Lk 13:24). Lazy, do-as-little-as-possible people should not get their hopes up about living with God eternally, because for them it is not going to happen.

A disciple of Jesus who tries to “sneak by” by doing as little as possible in His Kingdom does not really appreciate what Jesus did for us. He became poor that we might be spiritually rich through His poverty (2 Cor 8:9). The Christ willingly endured the cross (Heb 12:2), bearing “our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Pet 2:24). He loved us when we were worthless sinners (Rom 5:8), and yet our response to that sacrificial love is to do as little as possible? That is unimaginable. Where is our gratitude? God’s grace gave and gave and gave some more for our benefit, yet some will hardly lift a finger to work for Him.

A child of God who approaches serving Him with such a mentality is like leaven in the home and in the church – he is a destructive, hurtful influence. We have seen it ruin a family’s or congregation’s zeal to work for the Savior. Salt that loses its flavor is good for nothing (Matt 5:13).

In Christian homes, we need parents that give their greatest efforts to teach their children the knowledge of God. Christian parents must prepare their own children to be able to stand against the trickery of the devil by training them in the ways of the Lord (Eph 6:4).

The church needs preachers to be instant in and out of season (2 Tim 4:2-5). It needs elders to protect the church against false teachers (Acts 20:28). It needs Christians who seek diligently to be approved of God (2 Tim 2:15). What the church never needs is “do as little as possible” Christians who rarely show up for services, doesn’t want to participate when they do, and constantly complain the sermon is too long.

If I have been describing you, it is high time you repent and get to work in the Lord’s kingdom (Acts 8:22). We must obtain the Lord’s attitude concerning the work of God. “I must work the works of him that sent me, while it is day: the night comes, when no man can work (Jn 9:4).Then said he unto his disciples, The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few; Pray you therefore the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matt 9:37,38). If you are truly a Christian who intends to be found worthy of the Lord come the day of judgment, GET TO WORK! Stop doing “as little as possible” and begin doing “as much as possible”. The Lord will not forget your work and labor of love! (Heb 6:10,11).

Praise God Always

I will bless the Lord at all times; His praise shall continually be in my mouth. My soul shall make its boast in the Lord; The humble shall hear of it and be glad. Oh, magnify the Lord with me, and let us exalt His name together” (Ps 34:1-3).

Obviously the words of this verse that draw the most attention are “at all times” and “continually”. David was resolved to praise the Lord, not only in the days of prosperity and peace, but also in his days of adversity.

Praise God in Prosperity

It is much easier to praise God when you are rich than when you are in poverty or distress. However, prosperity poses a great threat to the soul of the righteous. The wise man Agur said, “Remove far from me vanity and lies: give me neither poverty nor riches; feed me with food convenient for me: Lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the Lord? or lest I be poor, and steal, and take the name of my God in vain” (Prov. 30:8-9). This text calls attention to the danger that prosperity poses to the soul “lest I be full, and deny you, and say, Who is the Lord?”

Moses warned Israel of the danger of prosperity saying, “So it shall be, when the Lord your God brings you into the land of which He swore to your fathers, to Abraham, Isaac, and Jacob, to give you large and beautiful cities which you did not build, houses full of all good things, which you did not fill, hewn-out wells which you did not dig, vineyards and olive trees which you did not plant—when you have eaten and are full— then beware, lest you forget the Lord who brought you out of the land of Egypt, from the house of bondage. ” (Deut. 6:10-12).

Prosperous people sometimes become too consumed in the daily affairs of life to make time to praise the Lord. The cares of this world systematically root out the praise of God.

Praise God In Poverty

No one wishes to be poor. How many of us would be able to praise God if we were poor? Paradoxically, one frequently finds the richest faith in those who have enjoyed so few of God’s temporal blessings. These people learn to depend upon and trust in God, rather than in riches. They have so little good to look forward to in this life, that they genuinely yearn for heaven. How refreshing is the experience of seeing those who have so little be so rich in faith. “Listen, my beloved brethren: Has God not chosen the poor of this world to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom which He promised to those who love Him?” (Jam 2:5)

Paul was impressed with this among the Macedonians when he wrote:

“Moreover, brethren, we do you to wit of the grace of God bestowed on the churches of Macedonia; how that in a great trial of affliction the abundance of their joy and their deep poverty abounded unto the riches of their liberality. For to their power, I bear record, yea, and beyond their power they were willing of themselves; praying us with much entreaty that we would receive the gift, and take upon us the fellowship of the ministering to the saints. And this they did, not as we hoped, but first gave their own selves to the Lord, and unto us by the will of God (2 Cor. 8:1-5).

There is a special set of temptations that come to the poor. As Proverbs 30:9 indicates, the poor are tempted to steal and profane the name of the Lord. They can develop habits of greed, the same as rich people can; they can be “minded to be rich” in spite of their deep poverty (1 Tim. 6:9). David was resolved to praise God even in the days of poverty.

Praise God In Adversity

Both rich and poor face adversities of life. Sometimes men are tempted, in the face of such adversities, to become bitter, resentful, and angry toward God. The burdens are sometimes heavy and hard to bear; nevertheless, David resolved to praise God even in the face of adversity. Think of his adversities: the king of the land was trying to kill him, influential men in Saul’s court slandered him, he was forced to flee to a foreign land where his life was still in danger, and he had to wander from place to place constantly changing the place where he hid. These things came on him even though he had risked his life to fight the enemies of the Lord (such as Goliath and the Philistine army).

Having just recently escaped from Achish by pretending to be a madman, David praised God for his deliverance saying, “Many are the afflictions of the righteous: but the Lord delivers him out of them all. He keeps all his bones: not one of them is broken” (Ps. 34:19-20).

Praise God In Sickness

Sickness comes to most every man in some form, whether great or small. One should learn to praise the Lord in sickness, just as he praises God in health. Paul was given a “thorn in the flesh” which he asked the Lord three times to remove (2 Cor. 12:1-8). When the Lord refused to remove the thorn in the flesh, saying, “My grace is sufficient to you,” Paul accepted the Lord’s decision. He learned that the thorn in the flesh was there for the good of his soul lest he become puffed up (2 Cor. 12:7). Therefore, Paul resolved, “Most gladly therefore will I rather glory in my infirmities, that the power of Christ may rest upon me. Therefore I take pleasure in infirmities, in reproaches, in necessities, in persecutions, in distresses for Christ’s sake: for when I am weak, then am I strong” (2 Cor. 12:9-10). Paul could praise God in sickness just as certainly as when he was in good health.

Conclusion: Have you learned to praise God at all times? There are difficult circumstances which the Christian faces that make it difficult to bow before the knees of an omniscient God and say, “Lord, I am in pain. I don’t know why I must go through these things. However, you know better than I do what is best for me. Therefore, I continue to worship and serve you, even in the face of this adversity.” Despite how difficult that it, this is the spirit Christians must cultivate. As Paul said, “Not that I speak in regard to need, for I have learned in whatever state I am, to be content:” (Philip 4:11)

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