by Ryan Eckhoff
About 6 months ago my wife and I had our second child. We knew our eldest daughter, Elliana, was very eager to be a big sister. Before the birth, Elliana would share with everyone that she was going to be a big sister. She liked picking out new toys for the baby and she practiced with her doll all of her big sister things. However, one question lingered between Katie and I. “How will this anticipation and excitement translate into her behavior once the baby arrived?”
On September 20th we welcomed God’s gift, Annabelle, into our family. Elliana was excited as could be. She wanted to hold Annabelle as often as possible. She wanted to give her a bottle. She wanted to play with her. She even wanted to help with changing her diapers… for the first month or so anyway. Once the ‘newness’ began to ware off, her joy and pleasure for being a big sister waned. She still enjoys helping with many things, but now her willingness to help is based upon if it is convenient for her.
In a similar fashion, the attitude of apathy and lackadaisical Christianity is something we can be lulled into if we do not stay vigilant in our faith. When God first becomes real to us and we understand His love, it is transformative. We seek out opportunities to help and serve others. Showing and sharing with others the love of Christ is something we constantly look for opportunities to do. However, very easily, distractions can creep in and we can let our passion be subdued.
Just as Elliana does not want the responsibility of interacting with her sister when it is not convenient for her, likewise we can tell God that we do not want to serve Him because it is not convenient for us. And when I say ‘serve Him’ I am really implying serving others in His name. Based upon Scripture, I hold a very strong conviction that without a horizontal relationship in which we serve humanity, our testimony of believing in God is false (1 John 4:20-21).
As a church we have just finished walking through the seven letters to the churches in Revelation. What struck me most is in letters to five of the seven churches, Jesus states, “I know your works”. Hearing this gives me pause and forces me to consider my own actions. Do I know and keep His commands (John 14:21)? Am I practicing pure and undefiled religion (James 1:27)? When the Son of Man returns, what will be His evaluation of my works (Matthew 16:27)? Will I be found to be a sheep or a goat (Matthew 25:31-46)? I fully understand that my salvation is an act of grace (Ephesians 2:8-9), however, Scripture also testifies “we are His creation, created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Ephesians 2:10).
If I am not doing these things, what is the barrier standing in my way? For me, I often find that my biggest challenge is usually one of two things. Because every situation is unique and I do not know what is going to happen I can become fearful of man. OR I find that I put my personal comfort above helping others. Either way, Scripture is there to challenge me because we have not been given a spirit of fearfulness, but one of power, love and sound judgment (1 Tim 1:7) AND Jesus instructs “whatever you want others to do for you, do also the same for them – this is the Law and the Prophets” (Matthew 7:12). If I were in need of assistance, would I not want someone to help me? Therefore I should help others.
We have a Father who calls us to serve our fellow brothers and sisters. Let us understand the value and weight of this responsibility. Be not like a rebellious child seeking only to do things when forced or it’s convenient, but instead serve others out of obedience to His Word and a heart transformed by the love of God (1 John 4:19).