There are many passages of Scripture that discuss the quality of character that is supposed to be possessed by those who follow Christ. Most of the epistles of the New Testament are directed to that end. While there is a desire among brethren to enlarge the numbers of people who profess to be members of the church (and this is proper because each number represents a soul), has there been the sufficient emphasis on the quality of character the Lord expects of the church member? Quantity without quality avails nothing. It is easier to measure quantity than quality but much of Scripture is devoted to quality. There are serious considerations each Christian must ponder as he lives his life before God and man while professing to be the Lord s disciple. Being a name on a church roll does not necessarily mean one has his name "written in the book of life." (Revelation 20:15; 21:27). Our lesson does not center on the value to the member of being in the church, but on what worth the member may be to the rest of the church. It should not have to be argued that each member has a duty to every other member. Nor should it be argued the possibility that many church members are deceiving themselves into thinking all is well with their souls. The churches of New Testament records had people who thought they were spiritually alive, but were spiritually dead (Revelation 3:1). Every congregation likely has its "dead weight" of inactive members who evidently think they shall ride into heaven on the good lives of other members and they are worth very little to the church. Some have obviously n put away the old man with his sinning ways but continue in sin even though they are church members. They want to take the blessings that are offered, but are unwilling to give the life that is required of them. Will you ask yourself, "What am I worth to the church?" It could be a spiritual eye-opener to seriously investigate and self-examine.
Paul urged in First Corinthians 11:28, "But let a man examine himself Second Corinthians 13:5, "Prove your own selves, whether ye be in the faith." Galatians 6:3-5, "For if a man thinketh himself to be something when he is nothing, he deceiveth himself. But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden." Are you an asset or a liability to the church? Are your brethren sometimes ashamed of you, and for good reason, due to your conduct, your attitude, your manner of speech, the things in which you get involved, your habits? Do others have to constantly struggle to explain you because they are ashamed of your actions? Can they be at ease in your company, not fearing that you will burst forth with something profane, vulgar, uncouth, or degrading? There are people who evidently have more fear of a preacher than they do God, because they will be on guard about their conduct in his presence but fail to realize how God is aware of them all the time. Evil conduct by a church member gives a "black eye" to the church and hurts every member. God s people are like an epistle being read by other people (Second Corinthians 3:2). What do they read about the church of Christ as they "read" you? We have heard people comment regarding some brother that if every member was like him the church must be a wonderful church. But we have also heard people say regarding some member that if they represent the kind of church we are, they would never want to be a member of it.
Help Or Hindrance
Are you a help or a hindrance to the work the church undertakes? Some are always ready to do whatever they can to assist, and they are loyal and faithful to their duties. Others, who may be personally prevented from doing something. are strong moral supporters and encouragers in the work. But some drag their feet, do not help, will not help, cannot be counted on, often criticizing those who are busy. Which are you? Do you help or hinder? There were both kinds in yesteryear as the Bible reveals. Why should we think that both kinds do not exist today? One of the most revealing commentaries about a congregation is how the membership supports the Bible study periods and gospel meetings. It shows their attitude toward the truth, their interest in souls, their willingness to cooperate, and whether they will help or hinder the work. Does the fact you are a member of some local church add strength and character to that church? Do people think better of the church because of you? Or do they get a distorted picture of Christ and those who are His disciples? How it hurts to have non-members say, "You people may preach godly living, but the members are tearing down what you preach faster than you can build up because of the manner of life they live." When those not yet in Christ observe you, are they inclined to want to be a Christian, or had they just as soon remain as they are?
if Like You
What kind of knowledge of the Bible would the church have if every member studied the Bible like you do? What if all had the same zeal, love, determination to know, and interest as you demonstrate? How many do we see sitting in the pews who never come to Bible study, never read their Bible daily during a week, give Bible study no more than a few minutes In-and-out consideration during one sermon each week, and that not every week? Is not there something odd about that person who claims to love God and His will, but will show so little concern for he Bible? You simply are not an asset to the church when you say you love truth but neglect growth therein. The same questions could be asked about visiting the needy, caring for the sick, reaching the lost, recovering the fallen, attending the aged, lifting the discouraged, and every other work that Christians can and ought to be doing. Such questions could be multiplied, but surely enough has been mentioned for you to get the idea. Whether you are just a "conscience soother" and a "dead weight" or a real "worker for the Lord" matters. We are not accusing but asking questions that demand answers for which we must have the right answers before we meet God in judgment. Let us make just a few other practical measurements of ourselves. A person who works for a business firm should present himself with a large degree of reliability, dependableness, faithfulness, loyalty, and enthusiasm toward his responsibilities. Should not we have at least these same qualities toward the body of Christ if we profess to be a part of it? As absence from your job ought be felt because you are not there, should not your absence from the activities of the church be felt? If one can be absent and not be missed very much it is likely he is not doing very much so that he is missed. Once a man and his wife went away for a vacation that 2xt2nclecl over a month, and upon their return walked back into the church building announcing, "We re back." One asked them where they had been and had not known they were gone. They were offended, but should not have been. They only attended now and then, and seldom were involved in anything the church attempted. They really were worth very little to the welfare of the church. They were riders. If most of the membership had been as they were there probably would not even be a congregation nearby for anybody to attend.
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