October 17, 2017

Negligence -Is it Sinful?

By Billy Moore

Most Christians know their duties and responsibilities unto God, but are often negligent in fulfilling them. "Neglect" or some form of the word is translated from at 1east four different words in the New Testament, and one in the Old Testament. In this study of neglect, let us note the meaning of the word as used in the different scriptures. (Definitions as given in Young's Analytical Concordance.)

Definitions

1. "To be careless, not to care." Cf. Hebrews 2:3, "How shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation . . . .". Here the word means, "to be careless, not to care." This same word is used by Paul in 1 Tim. 4:14, "Neglect not the gift that is in thee or not to be careless regarding this gift. Peter used this word in 2 Peter 1:12, "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these thingsSome in the church are negligent because they just do not care. They do not care whether they attend all the services, break the bread, sing songs, give as prospered, etc. However, all negligence is not carelessness.

2. "To view amiss, overlook." Cf. Acts 6:1. Here we learn of "a murmuring of the Grecians against the Hebrews, because their widows were neglected in the daily ministration." This neglect was not because the apostles did not care for the Grecian widows, but was due to the fact that they had "overlooked" some of the widows. This is shown in their immediate instruction to look out seven men whom they could appoint over this matter so that in the future none would be overlooked. We may be negligent of some duties for this reason.

3. "To hear amiss, disregard." "Moreover if thy brother shall trespass against thee, go and tell him his fault between thee and him alone: if he shall hear thee, thou hast gained thy brother. But if he will not hear thee, then take with thee one or two more, that in the mouth of two or three witnesses every word may be established. And if he shall neglect to hear them, tell it unto the church but if he neglect to hear the church, let him be unto thee as a heathen man and a publican" (Matt. 18:1547). In this instance the neglect is simply disregard for the word and admonition.

4. "To be deceived." This is the meaning of the word in 2 Chron. 29:11. Hezekiah was removing idolatry from Judah, and setting in order the proper worship unto God. He admonishes the priests and Levites, "My sons, be not now negligent: for the Lord hath chosen you to stand before him, to serve him, and that ye should minister unto him, and burn incense." The marginal note for "be not now negligent" reads, "be not now deceived."

5. "Unsparing severity." Cf. Col. 2:23. Paul speaks of those who are subject to ordinances of men, "Which things have indeed a shew of wisdom in will worship, and humility, and neglecting of the body . . . Here the marginal note for neglecting is "punishing, or not sparing."

Is it not true that churches some times neglect the teaching of the word? The edifying of the saints? Helping their needy? Why this neglect? Is it because some churches just do not care? Or, do some simply overlook these responsibilities? Perhaps some just disregard the command of our Lord, and other may be deceived, thinking they can be right before God without doing such.

Instances of Neglect

Churches throughout the country neglect to discipline the ungodly. Yet this is commanded of our Lord (Cf. 2 Thess. 3:6; Rom. 16:17; 1 Tim. 6:3-5; 1 Cor. 5). Why has church discipline been so neglected? Is it because we do not care for the souls of the ungodly? Surely not. Do we just overlook this responsibility? Do we disregard this responsibility? Do we disregard this charge of our Lord, thinking that we have a better way? Or, have we deceived ourselves by saying it really is not necessary to discipline, or it probably would not do any good anyway? There must be a reason.

We can see negligence in the lives of many of God's people, as they neglect prayer, studying of the scripture, assemblies, giving, gospel meetings, etc. What is this neglect? Is it just overlooking duties? Or do many just disregard these instructions of God? Have they been so deceived as to think one can be saved without being faithful? Or, is it just simply the fact that many do not care?

Are there not preachers who neglect the preaching of the whole counsel of God? Are there not men who know the truth but allow pressure from "leading" (?) men in the church to silence their lips? Are there not preachers who no longer condemn immodest dress, social drinking, dancing, gambling, etc.? Why this neglect?

Are there not many preachers who know the truth regarding church organization but fail to teach it for fear of the brethren? I ask again, why this neglect? Are there preachers among us who do not care for anything but a position? Who do not care for sound doctrine? Who would rather have "fellowship" (?) in the dining hall, than abide in the teaching of Christ? (Cf. 2 John 9-11.) Are preachers just overlooking the corruption in organization and work of the church? Or do they, knowing the truth, disregard it? Perhaps some have so deceived themselves as to think that organization is really not so important, but that in this 20th century we need the social affairs in the church. In the past most brethren knew the work, organization and worship of the church, but, perhaps because they were not continually reminded of these things, many have departed from the truth. Let all teachers and preachers be like Peter and say, "Wherefore I will not be negligent to put you always in remembrance of these things"

Truly, negligence is a great problem in the church. As it robs the church of many workers, thus robbing souls of salvation, and it is depriving many of God's people of eternal life. Brethren, let us awake to our duties. "Neglect not the gift that is in thee" for "how shall we escape if we neglect so great salvation?"

Truth Magazine VIII: 10, pp.13-14
July 1964

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