August 15, 2018

DESCRIPTIVE TERMS OF CHRISTIANS: Workers, Laborers

By Mike Willis

Another term used quite frequently to describe Christians is the term "worker." Paul wrote to Timothy, "Be diligent to present yourself approved to God as a workman who does not need to be ashamed, handling accurately the word of truth" (2 Tim. 2:15). Again, Paul said, "For we are God's fellow-workers; you are God's field, God's building" (1 Cor. 3:9). Jesus lamented, "The harvest is plentiful, but the workers are few. Therefore beseech the Lord of the harvest to send out workers into His harvest" (Mt. 9:37-38). Paul frequently described his colleagues as "fellow-workers" (Phil. 4:3; 1 Thess. 3:2; Phile. 1, 24). Hence, the terms "laborer" and "worker" were frequently employed by the inspired writers to describe Christians. Exactly what characteristics of Christians caused the inspired writers to use this word to describe them? The answer should be obvious. Christians are to be engaged in the work of the Lord; they are laborers in the Lord's vineyard (Mt. 20:1-16).

Far too often, Christians view the time they spend in attending the worship services as the only work that they are expected to do. For this reason, the Jehovah's Witnesses have begun to describe us as "pew-sitters" and "bench warmers." The assembling with the saints to worship should not be viewed as doing the work of the Lord. Rather, we should assemble to learn enough and be sufficiently encouraged to go out to do the work of the Lord. When we come together, we should hear lessons designed to encourage us to "go into all the world and preach the gospel," to "visit the fatherless and widows in their affliction," to "bring up our children in the nurture and admonition of the Lord," etc. Then, we should leave the building determined to do these things. The assembly is for edifying the saints (1 Cor. 14:26; Heb. 10:24).

The Sin of Omission

I remember one time as a child having heard a discussion on the subject of "What is the least percentage that one can give and still go to heaven?" Since then, I have frequently reflected on how well that discussion reflects most Christians' attitudes. The attitude of "least-possible-service" pervades the church. Such a disposition is sinful. Paul commanded, "Therefore, my beloved brethren, be steadfast, immovable, always abounding in the work of the Lord, knowing that your toil is not in vain in the Lord" (1 Cor. 15:58). The attitude of the Christian should not be "what is the least that I can do and still get by with it" but "what is the most that I can do for my Lord." The old-timers expressed this attitude when they prayed, "Lord, wear out my body in your service."

Paul, the apostle who labored more than all of the other apostles (1 Cor. 15:10), said, "For we are His workmanship, created in Christ Jesus for good works, which God prepared beforehand that we should talk in them" (Eph. 2:8). Notice that the purpose for which we were created in Christ Jesus was to do good works. Suppose that a farmer spent $40,000 buying a combine and, then, when he got it to the field, discovered that it would not harvest his crops. What do you think that he would do and say? Similarly, what do you think that Jesus feels toward a person whose salvation was purchased by His blood but who will not do any of the good works which he was created to do?

The sin of failing to do what one knows that we ought to do is frequently called the sin of omission. Jesus said, "Therefore, to one who knows the right thing to do, and does not do it, to him it is sin" (Jas. 4:17). A number of other passages teach this same truth (Mt. 25:1-13, 14-30, 31-46). 1 am more worried about members of the Lord's church failing to go to heaven because of the good works which they fail to perform than because of the committing of immoralities. Too many of us are going to be workers who "need to be ashamed" (2 Tim. 2:15) because we have done so little for God!

To Minister To Or To Be Ministered Unto

Recently, I visited in the home of a family which had been unfaithful to the Lord. I had been there but a short time when I asked the husband why he had quit coming to worship services. Very quickly he began to list his complaints which included each of the following: (1) my wife was in the hospital and no one came to visit her; (2) no one ever invited us into their homes; (3) no one came to see us when we had our baby; etc. I did not know much of the case history of this person or else I would have said to him what I said to the brother who went with me to visit him. I said something to the effect that I doubted that he ever visited the sick or invited people to his home when he was attending worship services. I was quickly informed that my assumption was correct.

On one occasion, Jesus said, ". . . the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve . . . ." (Mt. 20:28). Far too many Christians have never learned this lesson! They expect the whole church to serve them but have no desire to serve in meeting the needs of their brothers and sisters. Their whole concept of Christianity is incorrect. Christianity totally reversed the concept of what is required for greatness. The non-Christian world associates greatness with power, fame, and money. Regarding this, Jesus taught, "You know that the rulers of the Gentiles lord it over them, and their great men exercise authority over them. It is not so among you, but whosoever wishes to become great among you shall be your servant, and whosoever wishes to be first among you shall be your slave" (Mt. 20:25-27). Is your attitude one of wishing to serve or to be served?

What Can I Do?

Hopefully, you are saying, "What he has said is right but what can I do?" There are innumerable jobs which need to be done to assist the operation of the Lord's church in the community. There are some such jobs listed below. Beside each one of them is the letter "M" or "W" or both "MW." These letters designate whether the job can be done by men or women or both men and women.

Suggested Ways To Serve In The Church

Worship Areas Evangelism
Sermons or Talks M Distributing Tracks MW
Prayers M Conducting a home Bible Study MW
Song Leading M Trying to restore a brother MW
Lord's Supper M Contacting Visitors MW

Operational

Bringing someone to worship MW
Teaching a Bible class MW Maintenance
Gathering news for bulletin MW Cleaning building MW
Typing a bulletin MW Cleaning baptistry MW
Doing a lay-out of bulletin MW Doing repair work on building M
Being treasurer M Painting around building MW
Writing letters as needed MW Yard work M
Printing bulletin MW Keeping baptistry garments clean W
Folding bulletin MW

Personal Work

Addressing bulletin MW Visit sick members MW
Writing letters to visitors MW Visit aged shut-ins MW
Provide transportation MW Invite new members to a meal MW

Perhaps this list could be expanded by others. The inactive member no longer can excuse himself from doing any work by saying, "I don't know what to do."

Dear brethren, the sin of neglect is destroying the church. Long ago, the wise man observed, "He also who is slack in his work is brother to him who destroys" (Prov. 18:9). He knew that one does not have to tear down a house to destroy it; all that he must do is to fail to maintain it. A person does not have to plant weeds in his garden to ruin his crop; all that he must do is fail to cultivate his crop. Neither does one have to maliciously seek to destroy the church for it to cease to exist in his community. If we fail to reach out to bring the lost to Christ, funerals will destroy the Lord's church in our locality. Hence, we must be about our Father's business.

Let us get busy doing what we so frequently sing. We sing, "I Want To Be A Worker For The Lord;" if we want to be a worker, we will be one! Again, we sing,

"To the work! to the work! We are servants of God, Let us follow the path that our Master has trod; With the balm of His counsel our strength to renew, Let us do with our might what our hands find, to do.

"To the work! to the work! Let the hungry be fed; To the fountain of Life let the weary be led; In the cross and its banner our glory shall be, While we herald the tidings, Salvation is free!'

"To the work! to the work! there is labor for all, For the kingdom of darkness and error shall fall, And the name of Jehovah exalted shall be, In the loud swelling chorus, 'Salvation is free!"

"To the work! to the work! in the strength of the Lord, And a robe and a crown shall our labor reward; When the home of the faithful our dwelling shall be, And we shout with the ransomed, Salvation is free!'"

-Wm. H. Doane

A Christian is a worker for the Lord. Are you truly a Christian?

Truth Magazine XXI: 9, pp. 131-133
March 3, 1977

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