Monday, July 9, 2012

On Sacrificing What is Personally Edifying for the Good of the Body

A few days ago I blogged about different things being edifying to different people as the church gathers. My conclusion was that the church ought to be involved in a wide variety of activities so that everyone will be built up in Christ.

We are are told throughout scripture that we are to think of others before ourselves. For example, Philippians 2:3-4 says, "Do nothing from selfish ambition or conceit, but in humility count others more significant than yourselves. Let each of you look not only to his own interests, but also to the interests of others."

Thinking of others before ourselves may, and probably will, include sacrificing what is personally edifying in order that others will be edified. This can take many different forms in different situations. Clearly, this will not always be the case, but it is something that we must deal with.

For example, there may be one activity that we enjoy a great deal and that edifies us personally (the two have a tendency to go together). We might not question the fact that this activity happens very frequently as the church gathers. However, maybe we should question it if it gets in the way of other things happening.

Let's take an example: teaching. If we have teaching every time we gather, this may end up taking a lot of the time. It could be that this is getting in the way of other things happening. Now, I'm all for teaching and robust discussion. I believe it is critical to the life of the church. However, should it occur every time the church gathers? Maybe, maybe not. That's something for each church family to discuss.

As individuals, our Christian duty is to be on the lookout for the needs of our brothers and sisters. We may need to actively sacrifice certain activities so that other things will have time to happen. This includes suggesting this sacrifice to the body as a whole.

Sacrifice of this sort could be simple in form, such as talking less in order to give others more time to speak. It may be more involved at times, such as encouraging everyone to use all their spiritual gifts, even those we may be less "comfortable" with.

The irony is that as we sacrifice, we tend to grow in Christ. This is a normal function of the Christian life. Sacrifice of any kind, and any resultant suffering, usually causes Christian growth. The same can be said in giving up, at least some of the time, activities that we enjoy.

The beauty is when everyone in the body has this same attitude. When this occurs, then in the end everyone will be edified because all needed activities will occur. This should be one of the primary goals of the gathering.

Have you ever seen anyone purposely sacrifice certain activities for the good of the whole? Have you ever given up anything in particular? What was the result?


Marshall said...

My conclusion was that the church ought to be involved in a wide variety of activities so that everyone will be built up in Christ.
everyone in Christ will be built up together, and this does not require a wide variety of activities, but rather that we receive whatever the Spirit brings; each one as he is enabled to be strengthened thereby. It would be a myth to maintain that the one gifted as an evangelist must be edified by something relating with the heralding the gospel. We are more in Christ than our specific gifts & callings.
If we have teaching every time we gather, this may end up taking a lot of the time.
many things, such as living examples and good reports, teach more effectively than an extended time of "teaching" --- and the Holy Spirit of God knows this. Sermons and other monologue-lecture forms are largely ineffective while consuming relatively large amounts of time. Letting what we've been given to share be brief, and then waiting on the Lord's Spirit for the next word from Him.
In ekklesia, Christ is first and foremost: we're thinking of Him; all words and actions surrounding Him are our enjoy. Needs of our brothers & sisters have generously been looked to in-between times of our gathering together (this is also so for those who are blessed to meet together daily). As we come together, we are prepared in heart in that we have been serving God and assisting one another in love each hour through the week; to be coming together again declaring the good works of God among us.

Alan Knox said...

According to Paul, there are things given by the Spirit that should not be shared with the whole church because it will not build up the church, but only the person sharing it. So, I think Paul would agree with your assessment, Eric.

In the same way, the author of Hebrews (Paul?) said that we should "consider one another to stir up love and good works." This indicates that we need to know one another well enough to know what would stir others up to love and good works, and then to do those things. So, again, I think this agrees with your point.

Thanks for the great post, and continue to put the interests of others ahead of your own (another passage with the same point as your post)!


Eric said...


I agree. As we spend time together, we learn what edifies others. We can then actively engage in those types of activities in order to help them grow in Christ. If this requires sacrifice on our part, all the better. Sacrifice for Christ has a way of bringing us closer to Christ.