Definition of Abound: “To be plentiful, to be filled.”
An Old Adage: “Anything worth doing is worth doing well.” A good work “ethic.”
Some examples of the use of the principle in Scriptures:
II Corinthians 8:7 “As you abound in everything, in faith, and utterance, and knowledge, and in all diligence, and in your love to use, see that you abound in this grace also.”
Philippians 1:9 “I pray that your love may abound yet more and more in knowledge and in all judgment.”
Ephesians 2:10 “For we are his workmanship, created in Christ Jesus unto good works, which God has before ordained that we should walk in them.”
II Peter 1:5-8 “Add to your faith virtue, knowledge, temperance, patience, godliness, brotherly kindness and love. If these things be in you and abound, they make you that you shall neither be barren nor unfruitful…”
I Thessalonians 4:1 “We exhort you by the Lord Jesus, that as you have received of us how you ought to walk and to please God, so you would abound more and more.”
Matthew 5:16 “Let your light shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.”
Matthew 23:5 “Not as scribes and Pharisees, who do their works to be seen of men.”
John 9:4 As Jesus said, “I must work the works of Him that sent me, while it is day: the night cometh when no man can work.”
Titus 2:14 We are commanded to be peculiar people, zealous of good works.
Obviously, everyone does not have the ability or opportunity to do the same work. Even in the days of spiritual gifts, everyone had different works. In I Corinthians, Paul explained that we are all in one body, but with many members. No person is in any way superior to another. Whatever our work, everyone is important. Think of this little formula: A + O = R. Ability plus opportunity equals responsibility. We all have differing abilities and opportunities, therefore, differing responsibilities. I don’t believe there are any people in the Lord’s church that do not have at least one talent to work. Suppose a church had a “five talent” job, but didn’t have any five-talent people. Just put a three-talent person with a two-talent person and the problem is solved. Perhaps it would take five one-talent people to do that job.
About 40 years ago, I read about a congregation of the Lord’s church that had a very interesting philosophy about the work of the church. The elders determined to have every member of the congregation have a specific duty to perform, according to the ability and opportunity of each member. One elderly sister was confined to a wheelchair and could not drive. She was, however, a good cook. Therefore, someone would bring ham or other meat dish, which she would cook, and someone would pick it up and deliver it to a needy family. She did what she had ability and opportunity to do. They said a new family visited and inquired about being a member of that congregation. The elders asked them what work in the church they would like to be involved with. They replied that they did not want a job, they just wanted a place to “go to church”. The elders actually suggested they would fit in better with another congregation not too far from them. Believe it or not, this story is true!
Many years ago, I was a member of a small congregation of hard workers. A young man in his 20s was suffering with a terminal illness that eventually took his life. While he was still able to drive, although he could not work at a job, he constantly drove people who needed a ride to the doctor, or grocery store, and picked up anyone who needed a ride to services. He told us that he had “a sanctified car” that was set apart for service to God. He did what he had the ability and opportunity to do.
Obviously, teaching is done in our worship in song (Col. 3:16). Consider these songs we sing:
(We need to be careful what we sing, lest we be found lying to God!)
“We’ll Work Till Jesus Comes” Rest comes later, now is the time to work.
“To the Work” On the farm or in the church, the work is in the field, not in the house.
“Toiling On” Labor till the Master comes. Keep on, keeping on!
“I Want to Be a Worker” So, what’s keeping you?
“Work For the Night is Coming” Morning, Noon, and Evening.
If we are to abound in the work of our Lord, we must know what the work is. First of all, our work is not attending church services. Some have a sign over the door that says, “Enter to worship, depart to serve.” What is our work? Why are we here? Our reason for existence is evangelism and benevolence. We are to do good to all men, especially unto them of the household of faith (Gal. 6:10). We have the “treasure in earthen vessels” to share with the lost world (II Cor. 4:7). We have the command to be ready to answer every man that asks us for a reason for the hope within us (I Pet. 3:15). Our study and worship is to equip us for the job which God has given us. No one else will teach the world the true gospel of Christ.
Not everyone has the ability to teach others. We once set up a room in the building to teach prospects. The members would set up the study with a friend, and they would meet for the study. The person who set up the study was required to be in the study even though they were not the teacher. This program was very successful in leading several people to Christ. There are many ways to carry out the Lord’s great commission.
As our beloved brother Paul said near the end of his earthly existence (II Tim. 4:7), we also have a battle to fight, a course to finish, and a faith to keep, until our own departure.
Thus far, we have looked at the word abound. Now we need to pay attention to the word always. What is the retirement age for a Christian? Can one ever get too old to be of service in the Kingdom? God says NO! We may not be physically able to do as much as we did in younger years, but there is still work we can do. Forty-nine years ago, I spent a few weeks in West Africa with four other preachers. The leader of our group was not a young man even then, but made several such trips to preach. I recently found he was now living in Florida and is in his 90s. He is not able to preach publicly any more, but he teaches people who come to his home to study the Bible. (Sounds like Paul, doesn’t it?)
Another friend and fellow preacher was semi-retired, but worked part-time directing the personal evangelism program for a congregation. He worked only half days, and was on his way home at noon when he became ill. He stopped his car and parked in a parking lot. In a matter of minutes he was dead of a heart attack. Isn’t that amazing? He worked for the Lord up to his last 15 minutes of his life. He had “finished his course.”
I read somewhere that when brother Marshall Keeble was in his 80s someone asked him when he planned to stop preaching. He told them he would preach until the Lord told him to quit. They said he had preached his last time a few days before his death. Brother Perry Cotham delivered a lecture while sitting down, when he was 100 years old!
I have been preaching the gospel for more than 61 years. Would you like to hear how many people I have converted? The number is zero. I have never converted anyone! The Word of God is the seed. I have sown a lot of seed. Others have watered it. Others have planted seed that I have watered. But God gave the increase! (I Cor. 3:6).
As Jesus said of Himself, we must be about our Father’s business, always abounding!