Jump Start # 3505
1 Corinthians 15:58 “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.”
In a series of classes that I am teaching on Expectations, I listed a dozen things that often shake the faith of a new Christian. Expectations and reality are often not the same. I called these, “What I wish someone told me.”
Among the dozen things I listed was, “Some brethren disappoint you.” Sometimes what you see out in the stores and at the ballgames is not the same character as you see in the church building. It can be so bad that I have had some declare, “Don’t ever do business with brethren!” On the surface, that’s very shocking. You’d think no one will treat me more fairly than a fellow disciple. You’d rather give your money to a brother, knowing that he won’t be out buying drugs or booze. But often it’s not that way. The brother does buy booze. Sometimes they expect you to give them a pass on paying or at least to greatly reduce the price. The difficulties dealing with one another in business has made some to conclude, “I won’t do business with brethren.” How sad that is.
Here are some lessons:
First, we must remember that we are all on a journey with the Lord. Some are doing really well. Some are struggling. Some are barely started. So, in theory, we’d expect everyone to be above board, honest and filled with integrity. That’s the theory. The truth is, it’s not that way. Some need to learn. Some are tempted and that area is their weakness. Some need to grow stronger.
Remember, none of us are perfect, including YOU.
Be careful of casting everyone in the same boat. While you may have had a bad experience with one, does not mean everyone is that way. I have personally seen it both ways. I have had some who weren’t honest with me and they hurt me financially. I’ve had others who were great and very, very helpful.
Some have had a bad experience with a congregation. Maybe you visited and it was very judgmental. Maybe the culture is very cold and unfriendly. Now, it’s easy to think every church is like that, but they are not. It’s like going out to eat. If I go some place and the food is bad, it’s overpriced and the service stinks, I may not go back to that specific place, but I still go out to eat. The bad experiences you have had comes from those who need to walk closer to our Lord. Don’t give up on everyone else.
As our verse today reminds us, we all need to be steadfast. We all need to be immovable. We all need to abound in the work of the Lord. We all do. But, there are times when some don’t. That’s discouraging. Some sell out their convictions for more money. Some walk with one foot still in the world. And, when that happens, we disappoint each other. We need to be thinking of others. What you do is more than just your business. It becomes the business of others because we are tide together. We are joined by Christ. We are a family of God. And, just like home, if one in the family becomes selfish, stubborn or indifferent, it will hurt everyone else in that family.
Second, sometimes it’s the leaders that disappoint us. Preachers let us down. Shepherds don’t do their jobs. We can feel neglected, abandoned and left wondering what do they do with all their time. Understand, first of all, they are not mind readers, nor do they have a big red phone sitting on their desk that rings into Heaven. They may not be aware of your situation. I knew a lady who was in and out of the hospital and she never told anyone and then she got upset because no one came to visit her in the hospital. Hard to do if you are not aware of it.
But, there are times when leaders do let us down. They have lives, jobs and sometimes things fall through the cracks. Be patient with them. Help them. Don’t throw them off the boat and then start a mutiny. Leaders must grow. Leaders are not perfect.
Then there are the occasions when some make a major moral sin in their lives. How they handle that says a lot about their character. Most times, they need to step away from leading and get their heart right with the Lord. Repentance, prayers and deeper faith is what is called for. Years of good preaching can be washed away from the ill choices that the preacher makes. Wesley said, Some preachers are so good that they should never step away from the pulpit. And, some, once they step away should never get back in because of the way they live. Leaders can disappoint us.
Third, we must remember that our faith is in the Lord, not our brethren. Our brethren help us. They encourage us. We need them to worship together. They are a big part of our lives, but it is Jesus who saves us. Brethren may and do disappoint, but Jesus won’t. Jesus won’t let you down. Jesus won’t give up on you.
When our faith runs through the church, then whatever happens down at the church determines our faith. If things are good, then our faith is good. If things are bad, so also will be our faith. So many these days want everything run through the church. Have you noticed that the majority of the N.T., though letters written to congregations, are about our individual walk with the Lord. My faith is independent of what is going on down at the church house. Brethren may be fighting, splitting and arguing about everything and anything, but my faith is tied directly to Jesus. While those things make me sad, it won’t stop or hinder my walk with the Lord.
Yes, brethren disappoint. When you first realize this, it sets you back a little bit. But then you see that there are a bunch of brethren who do not disappoint. Do all you can so that you will encourage and not disappoint others. How you conduct yourself outside the church building matters. People notice. Impressions are drawn. Don’t let that light flicker and don’t let it go out.