Where Are the Others?

The Cause of Absenteeism. We are all familiar with the cleansing of the ten lepers. It is often used to teach the lesson of gratitude, but let us not overlook the lesson that it teaches on the cause of absenteeism. It was time for thanksgiving and nine were absent. Why were they absent? There was a defect in their hearts. If their hearts had been all they should have been, they would have returned with the one to give thanks. They had as much reason to return and give thanks as the one did. Let us make some present-day applications.

Bible study. It's ten o'clock Sunday morning. A number of those who have been blessed by the Lord return to the assembly to study the Bible. But as I look at the record for attendance, I see on the board a number less than the membership. I ask the question, "Where are all the others?" Were not all of them cleansed by the blood? Why did only this small number return to give glory to God? Did not the failure of the nine lepers to return to give thanks to Christ show that something was wrong with their hearts? When Christians do not show up for Bible study on Sunday morning, can anyone doubt that they have defective hearts? Is there not something wrong with one's heart who is not interested in studying the Bible? Where are those who do not return for Bible study on Sunday morning? Are they sleeping late? Are they too lazy to come? Do they not have something wrong with one's heart that will sleep too late to get to Bible study? Is there not something wrong when one claims to be a Christian and is just too lazy to come to Bible study?

Sunday night. The time is Sunday night. Some have returned to worship God. But the number has decreased considerably. Many that were here on Sunday morning have not returned to worship God. I ask, "Where are the others?" The building was nearly full this morning, but now half of the seats are empty. Where are all the others? Someone may answer, "They are not here because they could not find in the Bible a command to return on Sunday night." Did Christ command the lepers to return? No. What the nine needed was not a command, but an enlarged heart. The "others" who are not there on Sunday night do not need a command, they need to get their hearts corrected. Their hearts are too full of self and ease. They need more love for God, for the lost, and less love for self. The one leper that returned to give thanks to Christ was proof of what the other nine should have done. Those who return to worship God on Sunday night are proof of what others ought to do. Was not the one leper the best of the ten? If he needed to return to give thanks, then the nine need-ed to even more. Is it not likewise true that those most faithful return on Sunday night? If the most faithful need to return on Sunday night, then is this not proof that the others need to return even more?

Wednesday night. The time is Wednesday night. Those who have returned to study the Bible are still fewer in number. I ask, "Where are all the others?" The answer is: "Some are watching television; some are resting as they worked hard all day." Is there nothing wrong with one's heart who sits at home in an easy chair while Christians meet to feed on the "bread of life"? You would not try to excuse the nine for their absentee-ism. Then why try to excuse yourself if you are numbered among the others that do not return?

Gospel meeting. Preparations have been made for the meeting. Sunday comes and the house is full. Monday night arrives and the attendance drops. Where are the nine? Should not the gratitude of Christians increase the attendance on Monday night in their being present and bringing friends that might not have come on Sunday? Just where are the others? It is Friday night and there is an even greater drop in attendance. Where are the nine? This is football night. Surely one's heart is defective if football means more to him than the salvation of souls. To which group do you belong - the other or the nine?

By Franklin Camp

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