March 2011

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. We see it sometimes in athletes – they do not hustle and, because they consider themselves to be extremely talented already, they do not work diligently to raise their level of skill. Perhaps we have watched as those who serve in a restaurant, work in a bank, or service our vehicles make it plain that they do not intend to work hard under any circumstances. Such folks have a do-just-as-little-as-possible philosophy.

While some of the above scenarios may cause us to be frustrated, it goes beyond frustration to find that some who have had their sins washed away by the blood of the Lamb and added to His church do not put forth their greatest effort in His Cause. They have joined the crowd. Which crowd? The one 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, yes, laziness. It is sad, but true.

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 (John 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” (John 6:38). No true imitator of the Son of God will approach God’s work with the idea of doing as little as possible.

Let us not try to hide the facts. A member of the church that does not give his/her best effort in serving the Lord is failing to do what He expects of every one of His followers. That is correct, every one. God’s charge to the 1st-century Christians in Corinth was to “be steadfast, immovable, always abounding the word of the Lord . . .” (1 Corinthians 15:58). “Abounding” in the Lord’s work sounds a whole lot different than “doing just as little as possible,” don’t you agree? We further read that God’s children are supposed to be “fervent in spirit” (Romans 12:11) and “zealous for good works” (Titus 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” (Luke 13:24). To enter the narrow gate, one must “strive,” that word being a translation of a Greek word [ἀγωνίζομαι/agōnizomai] which includes the idea of endeavouring with strenuous zeal to obtain something [Thayer, word no. 75]. 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. Brothers and sisters, He became poor that we might be spiritually rich through His poverty (2 Corinthians 8:9). The Christ willingly endured the cross (Hebrews 12:2), bearing “our sins in his own body on the tree” (1 Peter 2:24). He loved us when we were worthless sinners (Romans 5:8), and yet our response to that sacrificial love is to do as little as possible? That is unthinkable. 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 Master. Salt that loses its flavor is good for nothing (Matthew 5:13). I do not want to be like good-for-nothing salt, do you?

In Christian homes, we need parents that give their greatest efforts to teach their children the ways of the Lord (Ephesians 6:4). That task is not secondary to helping our kids get a secular education or anything else. Believe me, when Christian parents do as little as possible in training their kids to learn about and serve the Christ, the results will be disastrous from a spiritual standpoint.

We need Bible class teachers that pour their heart into their work! Our Bible class programs suffer when teachers do as little as possible in preparation and in the classroom. We need gospel preachers that give their best effort in presenting the word of God and in their preparation to do so. We also need every member of the church, from those who have labored in the Lord’s vineyard for decades to those who were recently converted, to be caring individuals, going “the extra mile” to serve others.

What can I do if I realize that in the past I have had the very attitude that we are discussing – I have tried to get by by doing as little as possible in the Lord’s Kingdom? “Repent therefore of this your wickedness, and pray God if perhaps the thought of your heart may be forgiven you” (Acts 8:22). After such a prayer of repentance, I need to make and keep a commitment to work diligently for my Lord.

Roger D. Campbell

TRUTH is published monthly by the Klang church of Christ in order to help educate, edify, encourage, and equip the saints of God.

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