Finding a good job these days can be hard, but finding good help can be harder. There are few people you can really depend on to work.
Anyone who has been in the church a few years knows that this is a problem in the church. One old saying is that 10 percent of the members do about 90 percent of the work and the giving. In some cases the number of Christians who get involved is even smaller.
Paul was no stranger to this problem. There were thousands of Christians in the first century, but many of them were not willing to do much more than go to church on Sunday. For instance, Paul sent Timothy to Philippi to see how the church was doing. Here was his reason: “For I have no man like-minded, who will naturally care for your state” (Phil. 2:20). Paul knew a lot of other Christian men. Why didn’t he send one of them? He explained, “For all seek their own, not the things which are Jesus Christ’s” (Phil. 2:21). Everybody else was doing his own thing. They were all too busy with earthly affairs.
When Paul was in prison awaiting execution, he was disappointed that so few Christians had the courage to stand with him. He said that “all they which are in Asia be turned away from me” (II Tim. 1:15). He must be talking about Christians because the non-Christians were not with him to start with. When he appeared in court the first time to defend himself, he said “no man stood with me, but all men forsook me” (II Tim. 4:16). How sad that Paul had to write these words in his last days on earth! How shameful that many Christians would not visit him in prison because they were afraid of what might be said or done to them!
And so it is today in the church almost 2,000 years later. Dedication is rare. Are there bright spots in this dark cloud that hangs over churches? Here are some things to meditate on when you are frustrated and discouraged about this:
- Appreciate and encourage dedicated Christians. Paul made sure he commended Timothy and Onesiphorus (Phil. 2:20; II Tim. 1:16-18). Don’t spend so much of your time getting frustrated at pew warmers that you forget the few who are really trying.
- Don’t become bitter. It’s easy to develop a sour and almost vindictive spirit toward Christians that are not as interested as they should be. When Paul reflected on the brethren who turned their backs on him, he said, “I pray God that it may not be laid to their charge” (II Tim. 4:16).
- Pray for more like Timothy. “The harvest truly is plenteous, but the laborers are few” (Matt. 9:37). Even Jesus had this problem! Instead of spending all our time complaining about it, He said, “Pray ye the Lord of the harvest, that he will send forth laborers into his harvest” (Matt. 9:38). Let’s put this into practice!