Parts of a greater whole.

August 2, 2014.

“But be doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving yourselves. For if anyone is a hearer of the word and not a doer, he is like a man who looks intently at his natural face in a mirror. For he looks at himself and goes away and at once forgets what he was like. But the one who looks into the perfect law, the law of liberty, and perseveres, being no hearer who forgets but a doer who acts, he will be blessed in his doing.”
(James 1:22-25)

This is a passage that is read many times in many different settings, but its popularity does not detract from the truth it teaches, nor does it excuse the truth it teaches. I was talking with my sister today on the ride back home from a canoe trip and we talked a little about what different people did when they get on up in age and simply don’t have the same people around them that they used to have. Sometimes its very sad, as many eventually lose the will to live. I hope I have a solution if and when I reach that stage of my life, Lord willing: stay active. Now when I say active, I don’t necessarily mean strenuous physical activity, though I suppose that would definitely qualify, but more staying busy. Having something to do. And what better to do than to be a doer of the word?

Each of us really do have a part to play in the Lord’s kingdom. I’ve talked about the parable of the talents before, pointing out the fact that there was no zero talent man. Everyone had something. As you may be familiar, not all the men in the story used their talent(s) wisely, but each did receive at least one talent. The same is true for us. We each have something we can contribute, even if it seems lowly (looks are often deceiving). Paul explains this in this way to the Corinthians:

“Now there are varieties of gifts, but the same Spirit; and there are varieties of service, but the same Lord; and there are varieties of activities, but it is the same God who empowers them all in everyone. To each is given the manifestation of the Spirit for the common good.”
(1 Corinthians 12:4-7)

“To each is given…” What does that sound like? Does it not imply that everyone is given something they can use for the Lord? Indeed, we all have a part to play. Paul continues:

“For just as the body is one and has many members, and all the members of the body, though many, are one body, so it is with Christ. For in one Spirit we were all baptized into one body—Jews or Greeks, slaves or free—and all were made to drink of one Spirit. For the body does not consist of one member but of many. If the foot should say, “Because I am not a hand, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. And if the ear should say, “Because I am not an eye, I do not belong to the body,” that would not make it any less a part of the body. If the whole body were an eye, where would be the sense of hearing? If the whole body were an ear, where would be the sense of smell? But as it is, God arranged the members in the body, each one of them, as he chose. If all were a single member, where would the body be? As it is, there are many parts, yet one body.
(1 Corinthians 12:12-20)

Have you ever heard a bible teacher say that we need to step out of our comfort zone so that we can do the work that God wants us to do? Whereas I understand what they mean and many times we are uncomfortable when we are talking to someone about Jesus, I believe this notion unwittingly spreads a false ideology. How should we spread the gospel? With what we know how to do- with the tools that are in our comfort zone. Why would God give us talents if we were supposed to not use them and rather try to do something we aren’t good at to teach others? I think we have an unhealthy view of the work of the kingdom, putting preachers and missionaries on top and those who do smaller acts of service or even edification on bottom. In reality, we are all one in the body, working together to spread the kingdom. Am I saying preachers and missionaries shouldn’t get credit? Of course not! But we need not judge the efforts of others against preaching and living in a foreign country. All of the work is necessary, and it may just be the case that the work we think of as lower or lesser is vitally important to the body. Paul continues even further about this:

“The eye cannot say to the hand, “I have no need of you,” nor again the head to the feet, “I have no need of you.” On the contrary, the parts of the body that seem to be weaker are indispensable, and on those parts of the body that we think less honorable we bestow the greater honor, and our unpresentable parts are treated with greater modesty, which our more presentable parts do not require. But God has so composed the body, giving greater honor to the part that lacked it, that there may be no division in the body, but that the members may have the same care for one another. If one member suffers, all suffer together; if one member is honored, all rejoice together.”
(1 Corinthians 12:21-26)

Do not judge other people’s roles, but rather encourage them in it. We each have our own talents. The question we should ask, however, is “Am I using my talents to their full to work in the kingdom?” This goes back to the parable of the talents. Each of the men were given talent(s), but only two out of the three used their talents wisely. To these two, the response from the master was good. “Well done, good and faithful servant. You have been faithful over a little; I will set you over much. Enter into the joy of your master. (Matt. 25:21)” But to the servant who hid the talent and did nothing with it, the response was not good. “You wicked and slothful servant! You knew that I reap where I have not sown and gather where I scattered no seed? Then you ought to have invested my money with the bankers, and at my coming I should have received what was my own with interest. So take the talent from him and give it to him who has the ten talents. For to everyone who has will more be given, and he will have an abundance. But from the one who has not, even what he has will be taken away. (v. 26-29)”

So, we are to be doers of the word, each playing his or her own part using their God given talents to spread the kingdom. Is that the life you are living? Are you a doer of the word, or a hearer only? Let us awake from our religious sleep, as is so easy to slip into, and work in the vineyard of the Lord.

Suggested Daily Reading: Matthew 25, Romans 14, I Corinthians 12-13.

Be strong in the Lord.


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