Bro. Robert Edwards
As adults we like to think of ourselves as being independent people. Independence is something we strive for as young adults and something we dearly try to hold onto as we become more elderly or if our health should fade in some manner. We usually apply this term to our ability to support ourselves without the assistance of other people. We also use the word "independent" to describe our form of government. We do not live under the thumb of a monarch or a dictator, we live in a free country. Independence Day is celebrated every year in this country to remind us that we are free from any "Mother Country".
However, independence can never be achieved in the strict definitions of the word. For we are all dependent on one another. We may feel that we are self supporting because we are employed and can pay all the bills, but in fact we are very dependent. We depend upon our employer to supply us with a position. If we are self-employed we depend upon a market to sell our products, that market being other people. Even if we should have a windfall of sudden wealth, we would still be dependent on the government to back up our paper money or checks. It is a fact that if governments are overthrown their form of currency could be considered worthless.
We call this country an independent free nation. But in reality this country is dependent upon thousands of soldiers and billions and billions of dollars for defense equipment to deter other nations from spoiling the wealth of this nation. Likewise, we ourselves are continually dependent upon others in every aspect of our lives. We are dependent upon other automobile drivers to stay in their proper lanes and obey the traffic laws. We dependent upon farmers to raise our food. We depend upon government agencies to protect the quality of our food, our water, our medicine etc.. We depend upon the electric company, the gas company, the police department, the fire department, doctors, lawyers...... the list goes on and on and on.
In the ultimate sense of course, we are dependent upon God. Who but God could control all the workings of the universe. The delicate balance of all the conditions which are necessary to sustain life. The breath of life from God to create a living person.
Everything I have said is a well known fact even though we are forgetful and we take so many things for granted. But my purpose today is to point out how prone we are to depend on others, even in tasks that we are fully capable of performing ourselves. We are all guilty of this in one instance or another. I have become dependent on my wife to perform various household duties. She has become dependent on me to provide the major source of income for the family. It is a habit that all of us so easily fall into. It is not the case that one-person has more ability than the other, rather it is a matter of experience or more training to perform a household task or learn a marketable skill to obtain quality employment.
We are sometimes prone to give up on a certain task because we don't feel that we can do it very well. But in fact it is often not a question of ability but rather our willingness to learn. For example, we can all remember our first attempt to drive an automobile. We tended to over-steer and over- brake. If the car was a standard shift the situation was even worse. We tended to hop the car down the road instead of driving it. And how we dreaded the thought of stopping on a hill with traffic behind us. But how many of us gave up on driving because we were not very good at first. Most people do not give-up because of a willingness to learn. We corrected our mistakes over a period of time and succeeded in our goal.
This same attitude applies to many aspects of our lives. The willingness to learn and improve can over come the initial difficulty of a new task. It is true that each of us have certain strong points and weak points in our ability to do various things. Some people can a play a musical instrument with a sense of ease and grace, while others have difficulty even after years of practice. Yet both have an equal joy and sense of accomplishment in what they are doing. But to reach that point we must not become discourage if our early attempts do not meet our expectations.
I remember what it was like to read before the Ecclesia for the very first time. Common words seemed blurred, proper emphasis on words seemed difficult and my speed of reading needed correction. Likewise the first several times one is called upon to offer prayer. We tend to go over the prayer in our mind time after time. There may be key words that we are trying to remember. Invariably at some time we will go blank and lose our entire train of thought. I knew the difficulty of trying to prepare an exhortation. It takes a great deal of time to transfer our thoughts to a written form. But the only way we will improve is to first have a willingness to put forth an effort, and then gain experience as we correct our mistakes.
An important point to remember is that our service on Sunday morning is just a small portion of our time. Any service that we perform here is work done openly before others. What is more important to God is the effort we put forth which are not subject to the praises of men. We should remember what Jesus said concerning the judgment in Mathew 25:
31. When the Son of man shall come in his glory, and
all the holy angels with him, then will he sit upon the throne of his glory:
32. And before him shall be gathered all nations: and he will separate them one from another, as a shepherd divideth [his] sheep from the goats:
33. And he will set the sheep on his right hand, but the goats on the left.
34. Then will the King say to them on his right hand, Come, ye blessed of my Father, inherit the kingdom prepared for you from the foundation of the world:
35. For I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:
36. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me: I was in prison, and ye came to me.
37. Then will the righteous answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, and fed [thee]? or thirsty, and gave [thee] drink?
38. When saw we thee a stranger, and took [thee] in? or naked, and clothed [thee]?
39. Or when saw we thee sick, or in prison, and came to thee?
40. And the king will answer and say to them, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye have done [it] to one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done [it] to me.
41. Then will he say also to them on the left hand, Depart from me, ye cursed, into everlasting fire, prepared for the devil and his angels:
42. For I was hungry, and ye gave me no food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me no drink:
43. I was a stranger, and ye took me not in: naked, and ye clothed me not: sick, and in prison, and ye visited me not.
44. Then will they also answer him, saying, Lord, when saw we thee hungry, or thirsty, or a stranger, or naked, or sick, or in prison, and did not minister to thee?
45. Then will he answer them, saying, Verily I say to you, Inasmuch as ye did [it] not to one of the least of these, ye did [it] not to me.
46. And these shall go away into everlasting punishment: but the righteous into life eternal.
When we think upon what Jesus said we realize that being an eloquent speaker or holing some position is not what really counts. What is important is realizing the need for a certain task and then have the willingness to do it to the best of our ability. "I was hungry, and ye gave me food: I was thirsty, and ye gave me drink: I was a stranger, and ye took me in:. Naked, and ye clothed me: I was sick, and ye visited me:" We can apply these terms to both the physical and spiritual need.
These duties that Jesus emphasized are not particularly hard to perform. They are things that everyone of us should do. Anyone of us could do them. But unless someone does the task, it may be done by no one.
This brings me back to the original point of the exhortation. It is so easy for us to fall into the habit of letting someone else take care of things. How often have we said "I am not pleased with the way things are going in the Ecclesia. I wish somebody would do something about it."
Have we ever neglected greeting a stranger or a visiting brother or sister who came to our meeting? Perhaps excusing ourselves with the thought -"I don't have time today, but I'm sure somebody treated them with courtesy."
How easy it is for us to neglect a brother or sister in a time of need with just a "I sure hope somebody was there to represent the Ecclesia." All of us have failed to perform our duty at one time or another.
I don't think that any of us would be here today if it were not for the efforts of some other people to make known unto us the things of the Truth. Is it not then reasonable of our Father in heaven to expect that we make our faith known unto others? When we were first learning the Truth we wanted somebody to explain various points to us. We were happy that somebody took the time to have a first principle class or that somebody took the time to give us a book or tape or sent us a Bible course.
Are we satisfied with the amount of effort that we devote to the work of the Truth? Do the word spoken by Jesus in Matthew 25 sting our hearts? Now is the time to change that situation. We are currently seeking ways that we can improve our service as an Ecclesia and also on an individual basis. We want to hear of your suggestions so that we can help each other correct our mistakes and lead us toward our goal.
We must remember that we are dependant upon each other to make an effort successful. The goal is set before us. The plea for assistance is made. It is choice to respond or refuse. At times all that is asked of us is our attendance to support a project. But at other times there is a desperate cry for assistance from a brother or sister. The cry is distinct and clear.
"Help me ____ Somebody"
Bro. Robert Edwards
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