by Steven Chan
15 June 2008
In the account concerning the talents in Matt 25:29, 30, the Lord commended the ones who had been profitable in using their talents and condemned the one who failed to exercise proper stewardship of his one single talent. That account should serve as a warning to all of us as to how well we are doing with the talents that we have been entrusted with. “It is required in stewards that one be found faithful” (1 Cor 4:2). Are we being faithful – in the respective capacities that we may be in – as students, parents, employees, husbands or wives, etc…
The Bible warns us in Matt 25:29, “for to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance; but from him who does not have, even what he has will be taken away.” The one who is faithful in his or her stewardship would be rewarded with greater capacities, responsibilities as well as rewards. The unprofitable stewards would lose whatever they may have due to their lack of initiative, laziness and faith.
The Christians in Thessalonica were commended by the apostle Paul for their exemplary lives:1 Thess 1:2-3, 6-8: “We give thanks to God always for you all, making mention of you in our prayers, remembering without ceasing your work of faith, labor of love, and patience of hope in our Lord Jesus Christ in the sight of our God and Father,…And you became followers of us and of the Lord, having received the word in much affliction, with joy of the Holy Spirit, so that you became examples to all in Macedonia and Achaia who believe. For from you the word of the Lord has sounded forth, not only in Macedonia and Achaia, but also in every place. Your faith toward God has gone out, so that we do not need to say anything.”
In Heb 10:23-25, the Bible encourages us thus: “Let us hold fast the confession of our hope without wavering, for He who promised is faithful. And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching.”
There is a need for all of us to consider one another in order to stir up love and good works among brethren whenever we meet together. The instruction is to “consider one another to stir up” – and this requires us to think of what our brethren can do in love and good works, and how we may “stir (them) up” to excel even more in manifestation of love and good works. This is an instruction to each and every Christian and NOT just to the leaders in the congregation. So whenever we meet together as a church, we need to “consider one another” and to seek to motivate, excite, express support for fellow brethren in “the work of faith, labour of love, and patience of hope”. When you come to church, do you only consider your own needs and not those of the brethren? Consider the exhortation in Phil 2:4: “Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others”.
Let me share with you some things that encouraged me greatly in recent days. Some faithful brethren organized very fruitful lectureships for the brotherhood which built up the faith of many. The 3rd Chinese Annual Asian Bible Lectureship (CAABL) was organized with the assistance of Bro Ong Eng Boon & Sis Christina Lim together with the host congregation Johor Baru Church of Christ. The feedback received was that the brethren who attended were blessed abundantly by the encouraging lessons that were delivered as well as by the fellowship of the Chinese-speaking brethren who had gathered from all over Asia. Did you know that many brethren who have been Christians for most of their lives still do not know brethren from neighbourhood congregations? What a joy to behold when they got to know each other during the Lectureship and were encouraged by the good works that have been done by all the brethren. They learn that they are not alone and more importantly, that they can actually work together even though they may be living in different localities. Brethren who participated came as far as from the hill tribes of Taiwan – don’t you think you missed the opportunity to be encouraged by these brethren who made sacrifices to come to participate in the get together of brethren of like-mindedness? Are we too busy or too complacent or not bothered? No wonder we remain in an inactive mode in our service to the Lord because we fail to avail ourselves to the opportunities whereby brethren can fire us up, motivate us or encourage us. As a result of the effort expended by various brethren, there were baptisms prior to the CAABL as well as subsequent thereto. Their good works continue.
Similar encouragements were received by those who participated in the 1st Annual Four Seas Lectureship organized by bro Peter Chin and Sis Pooi Fun together with the Faculty of the Four Seas College of Bible & Missions in S’pore. During the Lectureship, it was reported that a Four Seas College student from China suffered from retina detachment and had to undergo immediate surgery to save his eye-sight, and it costs S$12,000 – and there was a great out-pouring of love by the brethren. During the Lectureship itself, a total of S$7154 was collected – including one individual who contributed S$5,000 on that very day itself – and you know what – some brethren were pleasantly surprised that we have such kind and generous brethren in our midst – and but even more surprising, many did not even know the contributor even when told who it was! A relatively unknown Christian can contribute so much in such a short manner of time! Would you not be encouraged to hear of such display of love and compassion? Of course, there were many who contributed – some out of their poverty, others out of their abundance – so they each gave “as God hath prospered them”(1 Cor 16:2).
Brethren, do not become sceptical and judgemental of the good efforts expended by various brethren as they labour sacrificially for the Cause of Christ. If we are not careful some of us may become judges with evil thoughts (James 2:4) – with evil surmisings (I Tim 6:4) – falling into the same category as those who criticized the woman who had anointed the head of Jesus with expensive perfume as recorded in Mark 14:3-9:
“And being in Bethany at the house of Simon the leper, as He sat at the table, a woman came having an alabaster flask of very costly oil of spikenard. Then she broke the flask and poured it on His head. But there were some who were indignant among themselves, and said, “Why was this fragrant oil wasted? For it might have been sold for more than three hundred denarii and given to the poor.” And they criticized her sharply. But Jesus said, “Let her alone. Why do you trouble her? She has done a good work for Me. For you have the poor with you always, and whenever you wish you may do them good; but Me you do not have always. She has done what she could. She has come beforehand to anoint My body for burial. Assuredly, I say to you, wherever this gospel is preached in the whole world, what this woman has done will also be told as a memorial to her.”
It would be sad indeed if brethren were in fact discouraged from doing much for the Lord for fear of certain brethren becoming critical about their work or their motives. By the way brethren, this is not mere speculation on my part for I know of at least one member in Klang who has ceased to be an active worker of the Lord because of what some brethren had purportedly said about that person’s motive in doing the work of the Lord. Brethren, that ought not to be the case; rather we should consider one another to stir up unto love and good works whenever we meet together. “Do not speak evil of one another, brethren. He who speaks evil of a brother and judges his brother, speaks evil of the law and judges the law. But if you judge the law, you are not a doer of the law but a judge. There is one Lawgiver, who is able to save and to destroy. Who are you to judge another?” (James 4:11-12. In the meantime, “let us not grow weary while doing good, for in due season we shall reap if we do not lose heart.’ (Gal 6:9). “Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your labor is not in vain in the Lord.” (1 Cor 15:58). Have you been diligently doing the work of the Lord and have you been encouraging as many brethren as possible to do the work of the Lord alongside you?