Volume VII, Number 10
In this issue:
The Mt. Baker church of Christ
(1860 Mt. Baker Highway – Bellingham, WA)
Invites you to a
(Sweet Home, OR)
August 3-8, 2003
Bible lessons presented nightly at 7:00 PM
Sunday, August 3rd: 9:30 & 10:30 AM; 6:00 PM
(From I-5 take Exit # 255 and go east 4.2 miles)
For more information, please call (360) 752-2692
We are thankful for brother Ross’ arrival and the work he will be doing this week. Let us continue to pray for him and for the gospel he will preach, that it may fall upon good and honest hearts (Lk. 8:15; Rom. 1:16).
The general theme of brother Ross’ lessons will be “Search Me, O God” (Psa. 139:23).
Please continue to invite others to come to the meeting. The people of God will be edified as we worship together, and the word of salvation will save the lost. The word preached will equip us unto every good work if we will be here to listen, learn and live the truth presented to us (2 Tim. 3:16-17; Matt. 7:21-29).
It is written, in Romans 12:17, “... Provide things honest in the sight of all men.”
A recent TV commercial lists certain material things and their prices; and then contrasts these things with something, such as spending time with one’s children or spouse, so precious that it has no dollar value—something “priceless.” And that commercial contains a good message for all of us. In this short lesson we want to focus on another priceless thing--honesty.
The American Heritage Dictionary defines the word “honest” as “not lying, cheating, stealing, or taking unfair advantage; honorable; truthful; trustworthy.” Honesty is simply a condition of being honest, not characterized by deception or fraud; genuine. With this definition in mind, I want to relate the following story (although hesitantly, for fear of sounding as though I’m tooting my own horn). I do so to demonstrate a valuable lesson for those who claim to be Christians.
One late Friday afternoon, during their winter break from school, our children were watching TV. Earlier that day, because of a cable TV interruption, they noticed a man who was working on the cable lines to our house. So it was that during the afternoon, while they were “flipping” through the channels, they realized that we were receiving channels that we had not previously been able to view, and they told me.
At first, I thought perhaps it was some sort of “free weekend” promotion being offered by the cable company in an attempt to recruit more subscribers, but I soon realized that this was not the case. Because it was the weekend, I had to wait until Monday to call the company, which I did as early as I could. After I explained the reason for my call, the person who answered the phone put me on hold for a few minutes. When he returned to the line, he asked me how much I was spending per month for cable. (I thought he was going to try to convince me to “upgrade,” so as to continue receiving the channels we were now able to view). When I told him I was paying $12.99 per month, he said that because of my honesty, he was going to credit my account for $13. I couldn’t believe it, and thanked him so much! He said, “No! Thank you for being an honest customer!” When I hung-up, I thought to myself, “that was $13 worth of honesty!” But, in the eyes of God, any amount of honesty is priceless. How honest then are we:
1. In the Workplace? Sadly, there are some who, while professing to be Christians, are not honest at their places of employment. They are willing to steal items, or lie about the number of hours they work, believing that it’s acceptable, because no one saw them or noticed what they did. This may be true, but there is ONE who sees all things. “Neither is there any creature that is not manifest in His sight; but all things are naked and opened unto the eyes of Him with whom we have to do.” (Hebrews 4:13)
Some Christians have forgotten what Paul wrote in Colossians 3:22-25, “Servants, obey in all things your masters according to the flesh; not with eyeservice, as men-pleasers; but in singleness of heart, fearing God: and whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men; knowing that of the Lord ye shall receive the reward of the inheritance: for ye serve the Lord Christ. But he that doeth wrong shall receive for the wrong which he hath done: and there is no respect of persons.”
2. At Home? What if, in the past, my children had seen me being dishonest? After I set that kind of example, do you think they would have come to me regarding the cable and the fact that we were viewing programming for which we had not paid? And if they had, would I have called the cable company to report the mistake? Not if I was dishonest! My children learned a lesson--it is more important to be honest than it is to access a lot of channels and “rip off” the cable company! In men’s eyes, $13 is not a lot of money; in God’s eyes, honesty is priceless. What then are we teaching our children concerning honesty? Do we demonstrate that a Christian is ALWAYS a Christian, even though it might mean forfeiting something he’d prefer to keep? “Let no one despise your youth, but be an example to the believers in word, in conduct, in love, in spirit, in faith, in purity.” (1 Timothy 4:12) Doesn’t this apply to all who claim Jesus as Lord? How important then is it to be honest at home?
3. With Ourselves? “But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves. (James 1:22) If we’re not honest with ourselves, how can we be honest with our loved ones? With those with whom we work? With God? When it comes to temptation and sin, we need to recognize our strengths and our weaknesses, to honestly examine ourselves in the light of God’s Word, and to make the necessary changes. We need to realize that, by ourselves, without God, we are lost. “Humble yourselves therefore under the mighty hand of God, that He may exalt you in due time: casting all your care upon Him; for He careth for you. Bo sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour: whom resist steadfast in the faith, knowing that the same afflictions are accomplished in your brethren that are in the world.” (1 Peter 5:6-9)
It is sad that, where God’s word is concerned, many Christians are not honest with themselves. Rather than humbly accepting the Lord’s will, they attempt to deceive Him by offering excuses and worldly wisdom. They fool only themselves. Some who fail to assemble with the saints reason, “only the Lord’s Supper is important.” Others drink, or gamble, or pursue other worldly desires, and reason that the Bible doesn’t say, “thou shalt not.” Because they deceive themselves, they shed the priceless trait of honesty and pay the price of eternal damnation! “And even as they did not like to retain God in their knowledge, God gave them over to a reprobate mind, to do those things which are not convenient.” (fitting for a Christian) (Romans 1:28) The “honest” Christian “abstains from all appearance of evil” and “is not conformed to this world.” (1 Thessalonians 5:22 and Romans 12:2)
Honesty, according to Young’s Analytical Concordance To The Bible means:
A. Excellent - “Dearly beloved, I beseech you as strangers and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts, which war against the soul; having your conversation (manner of life) HONEST among the Gentiles,” (those outside the church): “that, whereas they speak against you as evildoers, they may by your good works, which they shall behold, glorify God in the day of visitation.” (1 Peter 2:11-12)
B. Decent, Becoming - “Let us walk HONESTLY, as in the day; not in rioting and drunkenness, not in chambering and wantonness, not in strife and envying. But put ye on the Lord Jesus Christ, and make not provision for the flesh, to fulfill the lusts thereof.” (Romans 13:13-14)
C. Venerable, Grave - “Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are HONEST, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.” (Philippians 4:8)
Brethren, we need “in all things, to be willing to live honestly.” (Hebrews 13:18)
Fishing for men...with money?
The Reuters News service reports that the Greenwood Acres Full Gospel Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, is offering $5 an hour on Sundays and $10 an hour on Thursdays to whites who will attend their services. The 5,000 member church, which has been almost entirely black since its founding in 1958, is looking to diversity. Bishop Fred Caldwell said the money would come out of his own pocket, not the church treasury. Other members have offered to help pay. More than 100 phone calls have been received from whites wanting to attend, with many offering to forego the money. (http://www.reuters.com/newsArticle.jhtml?type=topNews&storyID=3203295)
In defending his offer, Caldwell said, “The most segregated hour in America, depending on the time zone, is 11 o'clock Sunday morning…Jesus said that we’re to fish for men. I’m just using money to fish with.” Mr. Caldwell said, “I’m only paying for white folks in August. We’ll probably move on to other ethic groups from there.”
Mr. Caldwell is correct to observe that the Lord did not originate segregated churches. In Christ “there is neither Jew nor Greek, there is neither slave nor free, there is neither male nor female; for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Gal. 3:29; Acts 11:19-21). To show partiality and prejudice based on race or other social criterion is sinful (Jas. 2:1-4). We do not assign prejudicial motives to Mr. Caldwell or to his church because of his “fishing” expedition. But, we are made to wonder: if this were an all-white church offering money to blacks to attend, would the charge of “racism” and “bigotry” be heard across the land?
We do, however, charge Mr. Caldwell and his church with an unscriptural attempt to gain members. Jesus gave us the gospel to use to fish for men, not cash (Matt. 4:19; Mk. 16:15-16; 1 Cor. 15:1-2). Many churches of Christ, while not using money for bait, do use the social gospel lure of food and fun to attract people. There is not a bit of difference in these “baits” being offered by churches. Both are lacking the divine approval of Bible authority (Col. 3:17; 1 Cor. 4:6; Gal. 1:8-9).
Let us be “fishing” with the right bait – the only bait – which will please our Master, the gospel. It alone is the power of God unto salvation (Rom. 1:16). All else is the wisdom of men (1 Cor. 1:21).
Created by Chuck Sibbing. 08/01/2003
Sword is a free, weekly publication of the Mt. Baker church of Christ,