Tag Archives: serving

Practical Considerations Of An Active Faith — Dave Redmond

A few years ago, I wrote a bulletin article concerning “Freedom in Christ.”  While preparing, I became aware of a wonderful blessing.  Under the Old Law, the Jews were expected to keep hundreds of rules and regulations.  I realized that as Christians, while we are expected to keep commandments under the New Covenant, we have the freedom to choose the way we wish to serve God.  This makes the Christian’s service joyous.

Today we are discussing the importance of an active faith.  Hebrews chapter 11 is known as the “Faith Chapter,” but calling it the “Active Faith Chapter” is also appropriate.  Here, the writer reminds us of Noah, who lived in a time of great wickedness.  He was commanded to build a huge ark in order to save his family and the world’s animals.  This was no small undertaking.  Not only was it physically challenging, but took many years.  All who watched thought he was foolish.  They had not seen rain, much less a flood.  Also, the writer tells us of Abraham, who left his home when God called him.  He was not even certain where to go!  Can you think of a harsher climate than in the Middle East?  With large families, animals, and all their belongings, it must have been a tremendous effort to move even a few miles.  Noah and Abraham are men who listened to God, really believed Him, and followed His instructions.  We are here today with the hope of salvation because of their active faith.

Most of us are familiar with James 2:26:  “For as the body without the spirit is dead, so faith without works is dead also.”  Perhaps less familiar is Ephesians 2:10:  “For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should walk in them.”  Here we find our purpose as Christians.  We were created so that we can perform “good works.”  Amazingly, our loving and omniscient God prepared these opportunities ahead of time.  We have the choice of accepting these opportunities, but we are humbled that He would consider us worthy.  Our decision to demonstrate an active faith serves a greater purpose.  God tells us why we are to perform good works in Matthew 5:16:  “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven.”

Unfortunately, after we obey the gospel of Christ it is easy to become complacent in our Christian walk, becoming caught up in the problems of life.  Our faith can weaken, and we can neglect opportunities to serve God.

While we are usually motivated by God’s love, fear of punishment is also effective.  Jesus used the parable of the talents to warn against complacency and laziness when it comes to making use of our abilities and opportunities.  What happened to the man who hid his Lord’s money?  In Matthew 25:26 Jesus described this man as a “wicked and lazy servant,” and he was cast out into outer darkness (v. 30).

The verses which follow in Matthew chapter 25 are sobering.  Here Jesus is describing the judgment, and one’s destiny was determined in very practical terms.  Those who were blessed to inherit eternal life had cared for their fellow man: the hungry, thirsty, sick, homeless, imprisoned, or naked.  Those who did not were rewarded with everlasting punishment.  Jesus said that when we care for others, it is as if we are caring for Him.  When we neglect others, we neglect Jesus too.  He expects us to have an active faith and to demonstrate our faith by our actions (James 2:18).  James then reminds us, “Therefore, to him who knows to do good and does not do it, to him it is sin” (4:17).

Over the years I have seen Christians of all ages and backgrounds serving God in practical ways.  The remainder of this message is a practical application of the preceding Scripture.

For the child, one of the best ways to serve God is by honoring and obeying parents.  Nothing honors a parent more than to hear from a teacher or neighbor, “Your son or daughter is so well behaved.”  While the child does not understand what faith means, the habit of obedience is developed.

For the Christian teen, it is a blessing to be part of a youth group which serves others while having fun.  Youth groups can visit older people, those who may need help with cleaning the house or yard, and the blessings are mutual.  I remember a sweet older Christian who insisted on serving lemonade after our youth cleaned her yard.  Looking back, these were joyous memories.

After high school, we can demonstrate an active faith through our chosen vocation or during higher education.  For those who can attend college, I think it is a blessing to attend a Christian school.  However, many state universities have a Christian support group and this can offer tremendous encouragement at a time when we become independent.  Several of our local congregations support a campus minister who helps our young people remain faithful.

I remember the wonderful congregation and Christian friends we had during military service.  My wife and I were newly married, and a local church took us under her wing.  For me, learning to lead during worship services was a blessing.  My sweet wife was encouraged by the older ladies, and sometimes we would take communion to an elderly Christian.  We now look back to those years as formative in our relationship, and these were simple ways to put our faith in action.

Whether we remain single or marry and start a family, we can find opportunities to serve in our congregations by teaching, preparing communion, helping in the church office, holding a Bible study, inviting others to services, feeding the needy, donating clothing, or simply asking the church leadership what needs to be done.  For those with young children, getting in the habit of bringing our children to Sunday School is one of the difficult but most rewarding aspects of being a parent.

During our middle years, it is a blessing to be a part of a congregation with elders and deacons.  By now we know more about our talents, our strengths, our interests.  A deacon and his wife gain valuable experience in helping the church.  This is the time when some with children are older, and it becomes more convenient to open up our home to others.  Often, we can be of tremendous assistance during Vacation Bible School and other youth activities because we are old enough to be more mature, but young enough to have the energy.  By now we are often settled in our home and community and there are many ways we can give back, glorifying God by our actions.

As older adults, we usually have a little more time to put our faith in action.  In the congregation, the younger ladies look up to the more mature ladies as examples of faith and service.  Perhaps there is time to attend a ladies Bible class, visit those in the hospital, or prepare food and flower arrangements for various needs.  Also, this is the time when we often begin to lose friends to death.  We can be an encouragement to the depressed, downhearted, and those who are facing financial hardship or difficulties with children.

For the older man, this is the ideal time for self-reflection, perhaps offering to serve as an elder in the congregation.  This is also the time when an older gentleman may be an encouragement to the congregation’s minister, since the preacher is often overworked and goes through the same hardships as others.  Many older men and women are ideal teachers.  In the community, there are ample opportunities to help our neighbors and those in need.  In our congregation, some with financial means help support an orphan’s home, a widows’ ministry, and a Bible camp where our youth interact and some respond to the gospel.

Some of the greatest examples of active faith I have seen are by our most elderly sisters in Christ.  I remember one who continued to teach Cradle Roll, getting down on the floor even when her knees were arthritic.  Another took the time to teach the young girls how to bake unleavened bread and in the process conveyed the importance of the Lord’s Supper.  Yet another would call members of her Life Group, providing updates on the sick, requesting various needs in food, and simply encouraging the lonely.  Age was not a hindrance to serve.

In summary, there are endless ways to exemplify an active faith, demonstrate Christ in our life, and bring glory to our Heavenly Father.  Good works which God has prepared for us are waiting.  Just as in Matthew 25:23, we yearn to hear Jesus say, “Well done, good and faithful servant.”

Dave is a former elder at the Long Creek Church of Christ in Columbia, SC. He is a retired physician who started his career in the U.S. Army Medical Corps.

 

 

“Those Who Have Served Well As Deacons” – Curtis Kimbrell

For the last three years, I have had the privilege of serving as a deacon at the church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.  I have the honor of working with the youth at our congregation.  Meeting the qualifications as stated in 1 Timothy 3 has helped me in many aspects of my life.

As I go to work daily, many of the qualifications are constantly in use.  When you are living up to these requirements and standards, they eventually become a natural part of your Christianity everywhere you go.  It’s not that you are never going to fail, because you ARE going to do that.  However, I do find myself going back frequently to the verses to remind me of who I am and what God requires of me.

The impact of a deacon on a church can help the church grow in different areas.  If the impact is good and “fruitful,” this means the deacon is active and doing his job.  My job of working with the youth has encouraged me to do more than plan events and service projects.  It has become a personal task to teach the ones with whom I come into contact on a one-on-one basis.  We are all told to go teach all nations (Matt. 28:19)…but it’s usually a job left to someone else.  I’ve seen from personal experience that great results can occur if you take the time to study with someone.  I have studied with several and ended up baptizing them afterwards.  It is an amazing event to see someone baptized into Christ’s death and then rise to start a new life (Rom. 6:3-5; Gal. 3:27)!

I write about the above not to boast, but rather to encourage all Christians to get active!  Your area may not be the same as mine, but anyone can pick up a phone, write a card, and send an email.  Matthew 25:14-30 teaches us to use our different talents!  If you are thinking about becoming a deacon, make sure you and your wife qualify for you to be one (1 Tim. 3:8-13).  In my case, I was already doing the work or volunteering for it before I was given the name.

There will be times when you want to leap for joy, but there are also times you want to just give up.  I look at everything Paul went through, and I know that I can overcome the obstacles that I face.  Some of your main problems could be just dealing with other Christians.  Acts 15:36-41 tells us even Paul and Barnabas had a strong disagreement, but they departed from each other.  We all need to remember who we are and that others are always watching as well.

There are many spiritual pitfalls that come with the territory also.  If you are an over achiever like I tend to be, your plate becomes overloaded!  Make sure your events and tasks don’t overlap. If you give your word on doing something, make sure you follow through with it.  It’s fine to have many things going at once, but one important thing to remember is this:  don’t neglect your family or close friends!  Every time you say “Yes” to something, you are saying “No” to other tasks, events, and things.

Another spiritual pitfall for not just deacons but also any male leader in the church is how friendly you appear to be with the women in the church.  Don’t get me wrong.  I love a hug from a close friend just as much as you may, but there are those times that people see things that aren’t really there.  There are also times where an innocent hug can turn into an affair over a period of time.  I have seen it with members, deacons, and even preachers.  Our intentions always need to be pure, and our minds need to be as well.  All in all, being cautious makes life so much easier than being accused of real or perceived wrongdoing.

One who has a positive attitude even when things are hectic can help overcome their spiritual pitfalls.  It’s easy to get your plate full, have issues with other members in the church, and also have your personal life overwhelm you to the point where you want to “throw in the towel.”  One thing I have definitely learned is to delegate.  Don’t try to do it all by yourself.  I’ve found that there are plenty of people willing to help, but aren’t the type to volunteer.  It’s okay to have several projects going on at once, and much can be accomplished…but you need to oversee some things while dedicating your time to the more important tasks.

As a teenager, I was the shy type.  I kept to myself and wasn’t very outgoing at all.  If I had to speak in front of an audience for just a few minutes, you could probably hear my legs shaking!  Now, my love and passion is to teach others.  I love to teach one-on-one classes as well.  I can’t stress enough to the teens to just invite their friends to church.  After a few times, I eventually begin to talk to the visitor, get to know them, and finally study with them.  I’ve been more successful in reaching and helping souls this way than I have compared to knocking on doors.

Constantly studying with people as well as teaching classes has kept me growing spiritually.  2 Timothy 2:15 tells us to study to show ourselves approved.  Our spiritual state should never become stagnate!  The area of interest in which a deacon is appointed  to work should be one that suits his character and be one that he should enjoy.  I thoroughly enjoy working with the youth and the many ways they have helped make me a better Christian.

The role of a deacon is again a privilege. It should never feel like an obligation or a “have to” job.  Even though there are many pitfalls and obstacles, the role is more than worth it if you can dedicate your time to this role.  If you can manage to juggle your job, family, church duties and this role, you will see the reward is more than words can express.  When times are difficult though, and you feel like giving up…talk with someone.  I have certain friends with whom I can talk when I have a problem, and they help me overcome my obstacles while keeping me from me giving up. The impact you can have on a church can be great…if your heart is dedicated to the work!  As a father, a husband, a Christian and also as a deacon, I try to keep 1 Corinthians 10:31 in mind. “So, whether you eat or drink, or whatever you do, do all to the glory of God.”

Curtis serves as a deacon for the Boiling Springs Church of Christ in Boiling Springs, SC.  You can reach him at mommaof2la@yahoo.com.