You Owe Me
You owe me. You say, “Huh? What do I owe you?” Before you get too excited let me add, “I owe you.” As members of this congregation we owe each other many things. Yes, I use the term “owe” loosely. Consider, though, Hebrews 10:24-25.
Heb 10:24 And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, 25 not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching. NKJV
In reality we owe our Father a debt we are unable to repay. Instead He commands that we should be a living sacrifice. (Rom. 12:1-2) He further instructs that we should love one another even as He first loved us. (1 John 4:7-19) Our Lord adds us to the church in its universal sense when we are baptized. (Acts 2:47) God’s plan for the church was that Christians would be gathered together in individual congregations under the leadership of elders. (Acts 14:23, Acts 20:28, Titus 1:5, Heb. 10:24-25)
It is in this context that the Hebrews passage addresses responsibilities we take on when we join ourselves with others in a local congregation.
I suspect that many Christians do not understand the responsibilities taken when one becomes a member of a congregation. The duties are really a two-way street in which we support and exhort one another. In order to carry out our duties as God has commanded we must do the following.
1. We must love one another. In fact, we must put the needs of others above our own selves. (Phil. 2:3-4)
2. We must consider one another. We must know one another that we might be aware of the needs, cares, burdens, and all of the things that comprise life and might interfere with service to God.
3. In particular we consider one another for the purpose of determining how we can stir up love and good works. Now how do we stir up love? The idea of stirring up is to arouse or to excite. We are to become a moving force in the lives of other Christians. We are not concerned solely about our own soul, or about only the souls of our physical family. We are to become a force within the lives of our brothers and sisters in Christ, and particularly in regards to those within our congregation.
How do we approach that? There is obviously not some perfect formula for this. First, when we love others they are encouraged to also love based on our example. Acts of kindness such as sending cards and making phone calls, going by the hospital to visit the sick, preparing meals for others, and giving a person a hug all send a clear message. So do other acts such as calling when someone is missed at services and making a visit to express a concern about behavior that appears inappropriate.
When we first meet another person we are not apt to readily receive a rebuke or admonition from them. However, when an old friend or someone who has shown much concern for us in the past makes such a comment we are far more apt to receive and consider that admonition. Likewise, the interaction within a congregation is greatly improved when there is an underlying level of love and concern established over a long period of time.
4. Note that we are to stir up to love and good works. It is difficult to imagine causing another person to be excited when we personally are uninvolved and disinterested. We are able to excite other people about things in which we are heavily invested and to which we give a large share of our interest and attention. A person who grudgingly makes most of the services is not likely to be able to excite someone else about the work of a congregation.
Once a person is excited to love they seek out good works. No longer do they give of their time grudgingly and wait till someone insists that they do something. Instead, the intent of their heart is to see what they can do to serve God. They love the flock of which they are a part and are sensitive to the needs of other members. They rejoice with those who rejoice; they weep with those who weep. They stimulate one another to love and good works.
So what excites you? I see repeated advertising by churches proposing that one join them for the fun and excitement of their programs, their singing groups, and who really focus on offering entertainment. In those cases the emphasis is on what they can do for the individual to make them happy. That emphasis is on worldly entertainment even if the songs and comments contain the name of our Lord.
There is only one thing that should and must be the primary source of excitement in your life. That is simply this—that God so loves you that He sent His Son to die for you. That love completely overwhelms any emotion and pleasure that might be drawn from worldly things. Further, the resulting love and its fulfillment is eternal whereas the things of this world are short-lived, fleeting, and ultimately unfulfilling.
The bottom line is this. God loves you. He bids you to love Him and to serve Him. He not only loves you—He loves all men and is not willing that any should perish. We have one real purpose on this Earth, and that is to serve Him. We adopt His desire that no one should perish and we love each man because God loves them. Our lives become committed to seeking the lost that they might not perish. In particular, we are determined that our brothers and sisters within our congregation will not grow weak and fall away.
When an entire congregation is stirred up by their love of our Savior that love becomes palpable. The excitement is obvious and contagious. One person’s excitement leads another to grow stronger in their love of God and commitment to good works. Those works in turn stimulate another brother and sister. Ultimately, one of those brethren end up reawakening the love of the first person who has subsequently grown weaker. I believe that is a primary factor in God’s plan for us to assemble ourselves together in a local congregation.
Yes, you do owe me. And I also owe you. But most of all, we owe all of our love and commitment to our Father in Heaven.
- Jimmy Griffith