Thursday, December 20, 2007



Servitude is considered by the natural man as being far beneath the dignity of any respectable human being. Yet the LORD JESUS said, “But so shall it not be among you: but whosoever will be great among you, shall be your minister: And whosoever of you will be the chiefest, shall be servant of all. For even the Son of man came not to be ministered unto, but to minister, and to give his life a ransom for many.” (Mark 10:43-45) HE not only taught by words but by HIS example that the greatest in HIS kingdom are those who give of themselves to others.
With this thought in mind we look at Paul’s instruction in I Timothy 6 to those who find themselves in a place of servitude (perhaps not even by their choice). “Let as many servants as are under the yoke count their own masters worthy of all honor, that the name of God and his doctrine be not blasphemed.” (1Tim.6:1)
Since modern bankruptcy laws have taken away the stigma and risk of being put into servitude because of financial obligations the major avenue where the concept of this sort of “servitude” is now illustrated is in the place of employment. Those who are followers of JESUS CHRIST should be the best employees on earth, for they should do everything in their power to bring honor and profit to their employers and should gladly go about their tasks with a cheerful disposition. If Paul’s instruction is such to those who were pressed into service against their choice how much more ought those who have gladly gone to work for someone for a certain amount of money, to do the same. I believe that if a person finds themselves in a place of employment where they feel they cannot perform those tasks they are being paid to do with utmost diligence and respect for their employers then they should seek employment elsewhere. Otherwise they are sure to bring reproach to the gospel by engaging in “water cooler” discussions of bad working conditions and other disparaging comments and ultimately by poor work habits brought on by their disgruntled mindset.
This is most especially true when their employers themselves are believers, (see v.2). Sometimes those who work for fellow believers think that they should be treated differently and given special privileges than other employees. I have seen some seek to take advantage of their relationship as believers, by taking liberties at their employer’s expense. This is no less than thievery and should not so much as be named among those professing faith. Even greater diligence and effort is due those whom we profess to be brethren with.
Those who deny this principle show themselves to be destitute of truth and captured by their own greed thinking that they can find happiness at the expense of others or that they can be content by having greater amounts of this world’s goods. (see v.3-5)
True contentment is not found nor enhanced by a man’s possessions. “But godliness with contentment is great gain.”(1Tim. 6:6) Those who are truly the followers of CHRIST are those whose delight is in following the paths of righteousness that HE has defined regardless of one’s station or circumstances. Paul’s statement, “And having food and raiment let us be therewith content.” (1Tim 6:8); seems like a foreign concept in this materialistic society in which we live. Not just the world but many who profess to be followers of CHRIST would scoff at such an idea, if propounded openly today. Most so called believers in our day think it is their GOD given right to enjoy a trouble free and comfortable lifestyle. Their thoughts about what they can do to help one another begins only after they have insured their own comforts. May the LORD give us grace to be as the apostle exhorts us to be and deliver us from the spirit of those whose god is their appetite.
“(For many walk, of whom I have told you often, and now tell you even weeping, that they are the enemies of the cross of Christ: Whose end is destruction, whose God is their belly, and whose glory is in their shame, who mind earthly things.) “(Phil 3:18-19)

(to be continued, DV) mam

Thursday, December 13, 2007



Paul’s description (in I Tim.3:1-7) of the qualifications that should be evident in those who would be elders (or bishops), is set forth not just to identify them. The elders are to be “examples to the flock,” (see I Pet.5:3) so it only follows that these qualifications set forth the desired behavior that should be present to some degree in all of GOD’s children. (see Eph.4:7)
He says that they must be “given to hospitality”, or literally those who love guests. There is no truer demonstration of love and esteem for brethren in the LORD than when we open our homes to them and share with them the very substance of our livelihood. This is a virtue that is fast being lost in our society in general and sadly even among those who profess faith. The tendency of the flesh is to be selfish and to desire not to be bothered with providing lodging and meals for those who visit. This is one of the qualifications for the “widows” that he speaks of in chap. 5 saying ,”if she have lodged strangers”. In times past women thought it a great honor to provide for others, often laboring intensely to provide meals and other comforts for the brethren. This was plainly demonstrated in the effort put forth when times for shared meals came about. Many in our society think that buying a bucket of chicken equates with this personal involvement but it is only demonstrative of the shallowness of our desire to help one another. Finding a motel for someone is not quite the same as “lodging strangers”, though it is more “convenient”.
Then he says they are not to be “greedy of filthy lucre” nor “covetous”. (see v.3) Simply put they should not serve the flock of GOD with money on their mind. Nor should they desire to have what the LORD has blessed the flock with. The man who gauges his service to the people of GOD by a certain salary or contracted amount is in some measure greedy of it. Those called by GOD are to serve HIM and HIS people because they cannot escape it, (see I Cor.9:16) they are not hirelings. Covetousness ought never to be named among any of GOD’s children let alone those who would be examples to the flock. The deacons are so described in the same fashion.
Next Paul describes the churches’ care of widows.(chap.5) This is not quite the same problem in our day as it was in his, but still the principles of giving aid to those in need are the same. It is only proper that believers should take care of their parents (and relatives) if the need should arise. It should never happen among those who call themselves followers of CHRIST that their parents should ever be indigent when it is within the children’s power to provide for them. (see 5:4,8) Those who are helped by the church should be spiritually minded individuals and not just nominal believers. There should be a pattern and demonstration of good works which show their status as true believers and not just freeloaders looking for a handout.(5:5-7,10) Those younger widows are refused in part because they are able to provide for themselves.
In verses 17 and 18 he sets forth the inescapable conclusion that any workman is worthy of his hire, and those who render service to the children of GOD of a spiritual nature by feeding them the pure truth of GOD’s word ought to have their services valued at an even higher rate. What value can one put on being fed by a faithful, and diligent messenger from GOD.
“How beautiful upon the mountains are the feet of him that bringeth good tidings, that publisheth peace; that bringeth good tidings of good, that publisheth salvation; that saith unto Zion, Thy God reigneth! “(Isa 52:7)

(to be continued, DV) mam

Wednesday, December 5, 2007



In the third chapter of Colossians, Paul once again gives instruction on that which the servant should give to the master and that which the master should give to the servant. (see Col.3:22-4:1) He instructs the servants to serve their masters (employers) diligently without murmuring knowing that they shall inherit those riches which are bestowed on the sons of GOD. The masters are to give to their servants ( employees) everything that is due them, defrauding them not in any way, perhaps even rewarding them above and beyond their worth, because that is exactly what those who are the servants of the KING have received. Those who are the sons of GOD ought to demonstrate a selfless spirit anytime someone bestows a service to them. For instance if they are in a restaurant they should tip the waitress just as they would wish to be tipped if they were providing the service rather than receiving it. “Knowing that ye also have a Master in heaven.” (Col 4:1) Freely ye have received freely give. “Give, and it shall be given unto you, good measure, pressed down, and shaken together, and running over, shall men give into your bosom. For with the same measure that ye mete withal it shall be measured to you again.” (Luke 6:38)
Paul commends the Thessalonian’s for the good example they had set for other believers (see I Thess.1:7) and reminds them that he had labored among them without any sort of charge for his services.(chap 2:9,10). Just as he had told the Corinthians, so that no man could blame him unjustly for serving them for filthy lucre and thereby bring a reproach to the gospel.
He admonishes them to be industrious and honest in their work so that no one would have reason to accuse them of laziness and not providing for their own needs. (chap.4:11,12) He exhorts them to be mindful of those who labor among them for their spiritual benefit and to esteem them in all ways for the labor of love which they bestow on them. (chap.5:12,13) He goes on to say that they should also consider the needs of those who are unable to minister to their own needs such as the feebleminded and the weak (v.14) and to be ready to give of the fruits of their own labor to help them expecting nothing in return. He seems to give them a good report on these matters in his next epistle. (see II Thes. 1:3)
In the last chapter of II Thessalonians Paul sets down one of the sternest of admonitions concerning freeloading. Since their love was abounding and demonstrated in their providing for those who were unable to help themselves, evidently there were some who were taking advantage of this. Paul gives his own self and labor as an example of not expecting a handout. (v.8,9) and says that if a man would not work then he should not eat. (v.10) So he plainly rebukes the freeloaders and demands that they provide for themselves. (v.11,12) Men cannot wait for others to help them, especially when they are able bodied. It is a reproach to the gospel and a shame for a man calling himself a Christian to be non-productive and lazy. “Whether therefore ye eat, or drink, or whatsoever ye do, do all to the glory of God.” (1Cor 10:31)

(to be continued, DV) mam

Wednesday, November 28, 2007



The ultimate illustration of New Testament giving is seen in Paul’s admonition to husbands to love their wives; “Husbands, love your wives, even as Christ also loved the church, and gave himself for it” (Eph 5:25) CHRIST’s example is always our pattern in all things. Love is the very basis for giving in the New Testament as HE has demonstrated. True love is the greatest motivator. When fear fails, duty is neglected, and the thought of future reward is forgotten, love will cause a man to give. The LORD JESUS demonstrated his willingness to give HIMSELF for HIS bride because HE loved her with an everlasting love.
HE was willing to spend and be spent because of HIS great love for her. HE considered the cost and gladly paid it, demanding nothing in return, but determined to purchase whatever HIS bride stood in need of. Love does not ever consider the cost too high but is willing to do all that is necessary. “Since thou wast precious in my sight, thou hast been honorable, and I have loved thee: therefore will I give men for thee, and people for thy life.” (Isa 43:4) Quantities and quotas have nothing to do with giving which is motivated by love.
This is the same motivation for all that the LORD’s people are called upon to perform; regardless of whether it is in our marriages, the church, or even our place of employment. “Servants, be obedient to them that are your masters according to the flesh, with fear and trembling, in singleness of your heart, as unto Christ; Not with eyeservice, as menpleasers; but as the servants of Christ, doing the will of God from the heart; With good will doing service, as to the Lord, and not to men.” (Eph 6:5-7) Love for CHRIST will make men good employees as well as good employers.
Epaphroditus is held up as an example to the Phillipian church by Paul, as one who was willing to give of himself and his substance even when he was not necessarily feeling like it. He told them to hold him in high esteem for his works sake (see Phil.2:29) because he had ministered to Paul’s needs even when the Phillipians had neglected to do so. GOD always provides such things as those HE sends to a task need. They may not dine with fine china but HE will never leave them nor forsake them and will provide for them even if it is by their own hand as Paul often demonstrated. Epaphroditus was especially blessed in this “ministry” to which he was sent.
Paul then exhorts his “true yokefellow” (chap.6:3) (which was probably Timothy or Ephaphroditus, though we cannot be certain) to take special care of those who had labored with him no doubt giving of their substance and support. Just as he was mindful of the needs of widows and orphans, he was also mindful of those who had sacrificed much for the cause of CHRIST. Dare the sons of GOD neglect those who have given themselves for their service?
Paul is mindful to thank the Phillipians for their renewed support which evidently had been somewhat neglected (2:30) but perhaps stirred up in them by the consideration of Epaphroditus selfless love and they had began again to help Paul with the necessities of life. Rather than upbraid them for this neglect he lays it off to their not having had the proper opportunity to accomplish it. (see Phil.4:10) He reiterates his own willingness to be content with such things as he has, which lesson he had learned by experience wherein he had enjoyed abundance and had suffered lack, yet the LORD was sufficient for all things.(v.11,12)
His thankfulness for their present support serves as an occasion for him to remind them that their faithful support of him in the beginnings of his labors was of a singular blessing since they were the only church who did help him. (v.15) He uses this as an opportunity to remind them that it is more blessed to give than to receive by telling them that he was thankful for their support because of the blessing that he knew it was unto them to be enabled to give with a pure heart. (v.17)
“But I have all, and abound: I am full, having received of Epaphroditus the things which were sent from you, an odor of a sweet smell, a sacrifice acceptable, well-pleasing to God. But my God shall supply all your need according to his riches in glory by Christ Jesus.” (Phi 4:18-19)

(to be continued, DV) mam

Wednesday, November 14, 2007



Whenever the scripture mentions “giving” it is not always concerned with money as we see in Galatians 6:2; “Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfill the law of Christ.” This is the very basis of the true believer’s relationship to his brethren (and of course subsequently the LORD). Whatever the burdens are which are born by our brethren, we are to stand with them and minister to them as we are able. The LORD JESUS plainly taught this to HIS disciples, “Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me.” (Mat 25:40) If we are the followers of CHRIST ought we not to emulate HIS example who “is touched with the feeling of our infirmities.” (Heb.4:15) Is this not the fulfilling of the very “law” of CHRIST who said to love our neighbor as ourselves. It is a right understanding of this principle which will be that which guides the true sons of GOD in regard to the stewardship of those goods which the LORD has placed within our hands.
The sixth verse says “Let him that is taught in the word communicate unto him that teacheth in all good things.”,(Gal 6:6) Since we have already commented on this subject we do not wish to labor the point . The blessing of a man is directly tied to his generosity. “Be not deceived; God is not mocked: for whatsoever a man soweth, that shall he also reap.” (Gal 6:7) Those who are the most blessed are those who are given a liberal spirit which carries with it great joy and gladness in serving the KING of kings. (see v.8)
Paul continually demonstrated that generous spirit which the LORD had granted to him as he reminds the Ephesians that he is the “prisoner of CHRIST” for their benefit,. (see Eph.3:1; 4:1) He was committed to their spiritual wellbeing because of the calling which the LORD had given him, from which he could not escape but gladly fulfilled for their profit, according to the measure of grace given to him. (see I Cor.9:16-19)
He gives a startling admonition when he says that we are to be “Submitting yourselves one to another in the fear of God.” (Eph 5:21) He has reference here to the relationship which the sons of GOD are to have towards one another as they come together in the local church. We are indeed our brother’s keeper which is again set forth for us in the example of marriage which is typical the relationship which CHRIST has for HIS church and subsequently as we follow in HIS steps, that which the brethren are to have one to the other. Let each esteem the other above himself.(see Phil 2:3)
“Peace be to the brethren, and love with faith, from God the Father and the Lord Jesus Christ.” (Eph 6:23)

(to be continued, DV) mam

Wednesday, November 7, 2007



Paul continues to remind the Corinthians that he did not in any way slight them in his faithfulness to minister to them, because it appears that some had arisen in their midst who felt that Paul had somewhat neglected them “Truly the signs of an apostle were wrought among you in all patience, in signs, and wonders, and mighty deeds. For what is it wherein ye were inferior to other churches, except it be that I myself was not burdensome to you? forgive me this wrong.” (2Cor.12:12-13) He said that the only difference in the ministry which he performed among them and that which was performed in other places is that he was careful to place no burden at all upon them for his physical needs and care. He did not receive nor require any financial benefit from them preferring to minister to his own needs and those that were with him. Now they seem to have forgotten his sacrifice and service to them and he (I believe facetiously) asks them to forgive him for not burdening them with those needs.
The carnal nature of men is always moving men to complain and feel slighted even when there is obviously nothing to be complained about nor any real slight that has occurred. It is also a sad but true occurrence motivated by the same carnality, wherein the sons of GOD would have such little regard to the needs of those GOD has sent to minister in their midst, who often (as Paul did) spend their own substance for the good of those who receive blessings at their hand. (see v.15) Paul reiterates that neither he nor Titus nor any of the other men who he sent to minister among them ever did so for financial gain. (see v.16-19) A man faithful to his calling does not ask for money for his services but those to whom he ministers who are led by the SPIRIT of GOD are mindful of the blessings they receive and cannot disregard those needs.
Moving into the book of Galatians, Paul once again mentions that a necessary part of the ministry which he was performing was to collect benevolent help for the poor saints in Jerusalem. As the apostles in Jerusalem sent them on their way they made especial reference to this need which Paul was already aware of and was inclined towards. “Only they would that we should remember the poor; the same which I also was forward to do. (Gal 2:10)
While upbraiding these Galatians for their tendency to listen to the Judaizers and slip back into legalism Paul reminds them of their initial love of the gospel. In doing so we see an illustration of the true spirit of giving taught in the new testament. “Where is then the blessedness ye spake of? for I bear you record, that, if it had been possible, ye would have plucked out your own eyes, and have given them to me.” (Gal 4:15) Those who are given a true spirit of giving are not looking for bounds and limits, but are ready to bestow whatever the LORD has placed at their disposal because of the love they have for CHRIST.

(to be continued, DV) mam

Wednesday, October 24, 2007



Because there were many false teachers which had arisen (even in those early days of the church), Paul found himself in a position wherein he felt compelled to remind these Corinthians (whom he had taught in the way of GOD) of his apostle-ship and rightful place as their “father” in the gospel. Men by nature are fickle at best and often easily swayed by those who come speaking with silver tongues. Paul made no boast of eloquence (see II Cor.10:10; 11:6) and sought to impress upon them that the worth of a man’s message was in its substance rather than its style. (v.3,4) His chief concern for them was that they be found walking in obedience to CHRIST and not that they were entertained or had their egos stroked. It is rare to find churches today whose main purpose is not in making folks feel good about themselves. Psychology and empty assurance has replaced the soul searing message of GOD’s truth. Man rather than CHRIST is at the center of their message.
He does not spare them (the Corinthians) in pointing out that they were lacking in a due consideration of the worth of his ministry among them. He plainly and gladly preached and ministered among them, never making any demands for payment for his services. As we have pointed out before, he felt it necessary to labor with his own hands so that no man might be able to accuse him of preaching for money. It is a testimony to the shallowness of men by nature that they would have a tendency to devalue the worth of his ministry on that account. I have often witnessed this same phenomenon in the present time. TV preachers and so called traveling evangelists, by the score, are not ashamed at all to beg and cajole money from professing believers and amazingly many will gladly open their coffers and bestow wealth upon these charlatans and imposters while neglecting the needs of those whose main concern is their spiritual well being.
Paul points out that because he did not “require” of them that he be paid, it was still incumbent upon them to give due consideration for the service which he had rendered unto them. He even points out the fact that others (Macedonians) to whom he had ministered were forthcoming to supply such things as he was lacking because of his ministry among them even though he was presently engaged in such service to the Corinthians. (see II Cor.11:7-9) Those who are ministered to by those sent from the LORD’s hand should give due consideration to those who watch for their souls (see Heb.13:17). Even in this admonition Paul’s purpose was not to enrich himself but to benefit the Corinthians in stirring them up to receive the blessings which are incumbent in a giving spirit.
“To preach the gospel in the regions beyond you, and not to boast in another man's line of things made ready to our hand. But he that glorieth, let him glory in the Lord. For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.” (2Cor 10:16-18)

(to be continued, DV) mam