I’ve heard members of the clergy say, “90 percent of the work is done by 10 percent of the people.” I’m not sure if there is any way to test the accuracy of that statement, but in any organization, not just churches, it seems like a fair amount of the work is done by a few or at least the same people as time passes.
This week I’d like to talk to the 10 percent. Those that seem to be carrying the majority of the load; Pastors, Sunday school teachers, floor sweepers, event organizers, youth workers, deacons, trustees, light bulb changers, those that make sure there is toilet paper in the restrooms and the endless list goes on.
If you think you are about to read several paragraphs of, “Hip, Hip Hooray, Keep up the Good Work!” Well, sorry; that’s not the real world. All the tasks mentioned in the previous paragraph, pretty much go unappreciated until they go undone. I’ve never heard anyone stand up in a crowd and say, “I don’t know who did it, but I really do want to thank whoever it was that put toilet paper in the restroom. My day and the day of all the people around me would be much less enjoyable if you had not done your job. Thank you so much.”
What God has led to write about today is the question, “Is it heart or duty?’
God writes a letter to the church of Ephesus in Revelation 2:1-7. The pat on the back God gives the church reminds me of the ten percent. “I know thy works, and thy labour, and thy patience, and how thou canst not bear them which are evil: and thou hast tried them which say they are apostles, and are not, and hast found them liars: And hast borne, and hast patience, and for my name’s sake hast labored, and hast not fainted” (Revelation 2:2-3).
God praises them for their work. The people were always busy with the work of the Lord.
He also praises them for their labour. The difference between work and labour is this: Someone having a desk job is working, someone digging ditches is laboring. One is being productive; the other is being productive and working up a sweat. These people were not afraid to roll up their sleeves, get themselves dirty and do it all in the name of Christ.
He commends them for their patience. The Bible tells us that patience comes through tribulation (Romans 5:3). This church had gone through some tough times and came out stronger spiritually because of it. Sometimes when people go through difficulty they come out with bitterness and hatred; but not this group, they learned a godly virtue, patience, from the trials of life.
God also recognizes their hatred for sin. This is a quality all Christians should have but few have developed. Our Saviour went to the cross because of the sins of mankind and out of respect for Him, we should hate sin as He does (Deuteronomy 25:16; Psalm 5:4, 11:5).
Lastly God praises them for their knowledge of the scriptures. With their ability to recognize the lies; they must have knowledge of the truth.
So, we have a church that is full of people who are faithful enough to do the work, no matter how difficult, to work through trials and come out spiritually stronger, have a hatred for evil and have an excellent knowledge of the Word of God.
Even with all this, God was aware of a problem; a rather large one. “Nevertheless I have somewhat against thee, because thou hast left thy first love” (Revelation 2:4).
Even after doing all the labour, getting everything done, working through trials and an above average understanding of the Bible; their heart just wasn’t in it anymore. They we’re going through the motions, getting things accomplished, but the zeal was gone.
To the ten percent I ask these questions, “Is the heart still in it? Are your works for the Lord, because you love Him or because it is your duty? Do you do what you do for the Saviour because your heart wouldn’t have it any other way or because there is no one else to do it?”
Only things done for the Lord through love will last. Jesus tells them the end result, unless they work because of their love for the Lord, He will remove their church (compare Revelation 1:20 with Revelation 2:5).
To the 90 percent I appreciate you. But also to the 90 percent God gives us a good warning to check our motives, look at our heart and not allow the love to fade away.
Preacher Johnson is Pastor of Countryside Baptist Church in Parke County, Ind. He and his wife, Julie, have four grown children and 12 grandchildren. All scripture references are from the KJV. Blog: www.preacherjohnson.com Email: firstname.lastname@example.org.