When I came back from college one year, I was on a spiritual high having learned much in my college Bible classes, the church where I was attending, and many studies with Christian friends. I was wise beyond my years and eager to share my insightful observations with others. Sitting around the kitchen table one day, I remarked to my mom how our church seemed so dead and that we needed to be “more active.”
My mom kindly told me to sit down and said, “Let me tell you about this ‘dead’ church.” She then began to name person after person, from the oldest to the youngest and the many acts of service they were doing to the glory of God.
She told me of the older mother and daughter who allowed the church to meet in their house, at great inconvenience, when it started. She told me the numerous specific acts of service that the men did for the brethren and those in the community. She told me of the ladies who cleaned numerous houses, provided babysitting without cost, and other humble service to their brethren and others on a continual basis. She told me of the Bible classes with the lost and the encouragement of the weak and unfaithful.
She pointed out that she knew these things because of what she overheard, work she had done with them, or hearing the recipients praise the name of these brethren. She said that I would not know these things otherwise because the brethren were being humble and just going about doing good without fanfare or expectation of earthly praise or reward.
In her wise way, she then asked what I had been doing. At that time much of my effort was selfishly spent on myself. How many cards had I sent or calls had I made to the sick? Oh, I would come when called and work willingly and enthusiastically; but what work was I seeking to remedy the needs of my brethren? It seemed my incorrect and unfair characterization of the local church was only a reflection of what I was failing to do in God’s service. I reacted as Job did when rebuked by God: I put my hand over my mouth and said I would not speak of such again.
When you are quick to condemn brethren worldwide because they have no concern for the poor, ask yourself what you have done for others. I know brethren who have opened their homes to house those in need, made numerous meals and bought groceries for needy families, provided for starving brethren in foreign places, and provided home and car repair services for free to needy brethren.
When you are quick to condemn brethren for not spreading the gospel, ask yourself what you have done to teach others. I know brethren who have a calendar filled with studies or provide a location or babbitting to help the teacher and student. I know businesspeople who take time from work to go to foreign lands to spread the gospel, provide support to preachers, and use their company resources (copiers, computers, etc.) to encourage the spread of the gospel. I know people from all walks of life who are constantly looking for opportunities to teach others.
Reminds me of a visual description our Lord used: we must first get the log out of our own eye so we can help with the grain lodged in the eye of our brother. I was glad my mother helped me dislodge that log so I could see the beauty of God working through the lives of so many in my local church and join with them to offer service to the glory of God.