By Paul R. Blake
It is not important whether or not others are doing their part in service to the Lord. Paul did not trouble himself over the brethren who were timid before his imprisonment, nor did he fret over the motives of the contentious brethren, nor did he seem upset that Timothy and Epaphroditus were the only brethren who came see him at that time. He was determined to serve the Lord, even if it meant that he had to do it alone. What if he was the only one doing the right thing? As he said, “What then?” How did that change what he had to do?
Likewise in the present: does the fact that others are acting from contentious or selfish motives somehow excuse the faithful from their service and duty? What others do or do not should not affect what one can and should do. Why are the righteous discouraged by the unfaithful? Often, they resent it when others appear to be getting away with something, forgetting all the while that God is watching and remembering. They resent the fact that the unfaithful generate more work for the already overburdened righteous. And they feel disappointment, hurt, and even betrayal that one who professes Christ is not as loyal to the cause as they are.
These are not the attitudes of heart that a Christian should entertain. The servant's heart feels for, not against, one who is slack in attendance, morally weak in character, or lazy in works. He is sad that the weak one has chosen to go to perdition and is fearful that he will pass from life without repenting; he feels pity for the erring brother's loss of a relationship with God and emptiness at the loss of their mutual fellowship.
However, to what extent can the unfaithful and lazy prevent the devout from doing their work? When the faithful brother focuses too much on what others are not doing instead of what he should be doing, he cannot thoroughly complete his own spiritual assignments. When one begins comparing himself to others, he loses sight of Christ. Disciples are not competing for points or favor; salvation is not given based on who has worked more. Eternal salvation is based on individual obedience to God. Each Christian has his own work to do that does not depend on whether or not others do their part. He will be judged based on what he has done, not on what others have not done.
By Mike Palm
"...Giving thanks always for all things to God the Father in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ..." (Eph. 5:20) In Africa there is a fruit called the "taste berry." It is so called because it changes a person's taste so that everything eaten tastes sweet and pleasant. Sour fruit, even if eaten several hours after the taste berry, becomes sweet and delicious. Gratitude is the "taste berry" of Christianity. When our hearts are filled with gratitude, nothing that God sends seems unpleasant to us.
Sorrowing heart, sweeten your grief with gratitude. Burdened soul, lighten your burden by singing God's praises. Disappointed one, dispel your loneliness by making others grateful. Sick one, grow strong in your soul, thanking God that He loves you enough to chasten you. Keep the "taste berry" of gratitude in your hearts, and it will do for you what the taste berry of Africa does for one's taste. (From Bible Illustrator)
Counting My Blessings
When missionary Benjamin Weier was held hostage in Lebanon, he was imprisoned in miserable conditions for 16 months. In his first interview after his release, he was asked how he spent his time and how he dealt with the boredom and despair. He simply said, “I counted my blessings.” “Blessings?” the reporters replied in surprise. “What blessings?” “Yes,” he explained, “Some days I got to take a shower, and sometimes there were vegetables in my food. And I could always be thankful remembering the love of my family.”
The Bones in Any Undertaking
Every group is made up of four kinds of bones:
1) The Wish Bones who spend their time wishing someone else would do the work,
2) The Jaw Bones who do all of the talking, but very little of the working.
3) The Knuckle Bones who knock everything that others are trying to do.
4) And the Back Bones who get under the load and do the work.