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How Important
Are You?

How Important Are You?

by Richard Nichols

Published in
The Christian Informer
December, 1999

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Last updated:
December 1, 1999.

To build a child's self-image some psychologists insist that he or she must constantly hear how important they are.  We are told that their self-esteem is increased by constant praise for little accomplishments which they make--taking their first steps, pronouncing new words, playing nicely with others, etc.  Later, they need to be rewarded for greater achievements--bringing home a good report card, winning an award, or being graduated from high school.  Sometimes parents give their children the impression that they need to view themselves as superior to most others, their playmates, classmates, fellow-workers and so on.  This may be a serious error.  Parents who constantly criticize others, while bragging on their own often produce conceited children.  A feeling of superiority to most others leads to arrogance and an unteachable mind-set.

Because parents have lived longer, they possess more life experiences. Good Christian parents have had "their senses exercised to discern good from evil" and should pass this life knowledge and skill on to their children.  Christian parents are to train up their children "in the way they should go," and "bring them up in the nurture and admonition of the Lord."  Children should learn, that in order to feel good about themselves, they must gain the approval of those in authority above them.  The persons of authority are those to whom they look for proper sustenance, preservation, counsel, and guidance.  Giving them limits, punishment, approval, and reward help make for a well-adjusted youngster.  Remaining within their limits, they know they have their parents' approval and can be satisfied with their own behavior.  This starts early and continues through life.  First, parents are pleased with proper behavior, then teachers, then civil authorities, and then bosses on the job.  Above all, Christian parents must impress their children that they are pleased with their behavior when God is pleased with their behavior, and when they are young they please God by obeying his command to obey their parents.

Our True Value Depends On What God Thinks Of Us

Our children should be taught that we are superior to others only in the fact that we are humbly striving to please God and others are not, but that we are constantly working to change the others.  It is the mission of Christians to live such light-filled lives that others around them will be attracted by the life they lead and want to become Christians, too.  Being free moral agents, we are free to think, do and live any way we want.  But we need to realize that our true value depends on what God thinks of us--whether God is happy with what we think, say and do.  We are dependent on God to let us know what pleases Him.  We know nothing about God's likes and dislikes, whether He is pleased with this or displeased with that, outside of these things being revealed to us by God.  The revelation of His will for us is found in the word of God, the Bible.

The Scriptures are given by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit.  This being true we can make a comparison of what we know of ourselves (our spirit) to what has been revealed by His Spirit, or as it is stated in Romans 8:16, "The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God."  There is a peace of mind that Christians can possess.  Philippians 4:4-9 says, "Rejoice in the Lord alway: and again I say, Rejoice.  Let your moderation be known unto all men.  The Lord is at hand.  Be careful for nothing; but in every thing by prayer and supplication with thanksgiving let your requests be made known unto God.  And the peace of God, which passeth all understanding, shall keep your hearts and minds through Christ Jesus.  Finally, brethren, whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honest, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report; if there be any virtue, and if there be any praise, think on these things.  Those things, which ye have both learned, and received, and heard, and seen in me, do: and the God of peace shall be with you."  We wonder what happened to the adage taught to older children: "virtue is its own reward."  This satisfaction of mind in knowing that a person is doing right should be passed on to our Children.  Galatians 6:4 says, "But let every man prove his own work, and then shall he have rejoicing in himself alone, and not in another."

Arrogant Members

Once in a while we notice, even in the Lord's church, those who manifest a haughty spirit toward others.  What happened to their Christian training?  Whether we will admit it or not, there are some who view themselves as simply too important.  They feel that they are so important that the church just cannot get along without them.  They may feel that everyone must look up to them for guidance.  In order for a person to perceive themselves to be superior, they must look on others as inferior.  For them to maintain this presumed position they will constantly remind others of their superiority.  Inferiors "must be put in their place," at least so some think.  In talking to a couple about coming back to church services they replied, "Oh, you don't need us down there, we're not important. . . . You can get along without us."  How sad for members of the church to feel this way.  Is that our fault?  Often it is.

Haughty Spirited Teachers

We have seen from time to time teachers in the church who seemed to want to prove that the previous generation was ignorant in their understanding of many Scriptures.  They study denominational writers and present their ideas on this passage and that.  They continuously want to show their superior knowledge and give a different slant on many Bible truths.  Those who embrace a plurality of cups in the Lord's supper, Sunday school and women teachers have found themselves confronted with a new generation of educated liberal thinkers whose aim is to bring in instrumental music.  Churches of Christ across the United States are being split this very hour over this innovation.  It was a sinful change in worship in Europe in the 600's, in America one-hundred fifty years ago, and it still is today.  It is a change in the ancient order of things.  Even among us there are those who would like to see the church modernized.

Today some are now embracing the idea that women should take a more leading roll in the work of the church.  Some have had a woman hold a series of public "lectureships," others have allowed women to lead public prayers, do public Scripture reading, and some have thrown down the gate all together and are now allowing a public female ministry. When we were children the older brethren read to us from the pulpit, "But I suffer not a woman to teach, nor to usurp authority over the man, but to be in silence" (1 Timothy 2:12), and they read, "Let your women keep silence in the churches: for it is not permitted unto them to speak; but they are commanded to be under obedience, as also saith the law.  And if they will learn any thing, let them ask their husbands at home: for it is a shame for women to speak in the church" (1 Corinthians 14:34,35).  We just now opened the Book and you know what? It still says the same thing.  When the older generation taught us that men only were to do the public teaching maybe they weren't so ignorant after all.  Maybe the brothers who read that to us and taught us were not highly educated, but what they taught us was the truth.

Today's Sowers Of Doubt

We resent those who want to place a seed of doubt in the minds of their hearers.  We don't need men in the church acting as Satan's mouthpiece. Doubt is the devil's number one weapon.  You remember how the Serpent succeeded in planting doubt in the mind of Eve about God's word.  Well, he is still the enemy perverting men's minds.  "Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour" (1 Pet 5:8).  Jesus said of Satan, "Ye are of your father the devil, and the lusts of your father ye will do.  He was a murderer from the beginning, and abode not in the truth, because there is no truth in him.  When he speaketh a lie, he speaketh of his own: for he is a liar, and the father of it"(John 8:44).  We do not need teachers and preachers who are liars or cast doubt on God's truth, who are not forthright, but we need men who are direct and without evasion.

Battling For The Faith

The Christian is to "Fight the good fight of faith, lay hold on eternal life" (1 Timothy 6:12).  In the progress of this fight the Truth is to be upheld.  We read from Jude 1:3, "Ye should earnestly contend for the faith which was once delivered unto the saints."  The gospel is authoritative, and it should be preached that way.  Paul wrote, "These things speak, and exhort, and rebuke with all authority" (Titus 2:15). "For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any twoedged sword, piercing even to the dividing asunder of soul and spirit, and of the joints and marrow, and is a discerner of the thoughts and intents of the heart"  (Hebrews 4:12).  On occasion the preacher of sound doctrine will be attacked by the liberal thinker as being cold-hearted, harsh-tongued and closed-minded.  Despite the criticism, the gospel preacher's job is to save himself and his hearers (1 Timothy 4:16).  He is to speak "the truth in love" that he and  his hearers "may grow up into him in all things" (Ephesians 4:15).  He contends or fights for "the faith once delivered" wielding the "sword of the spirit"-- the word of God (Eph. 6:7), which has the authority of God behind it; it contains God's "power unto salvation" unto all believers (Romans 1:16).  We don't need teachers and preachers leading and directing us, our children, and our grandchildren who are not men's principle.

All Christians Have Value

In some places we have seen special efforts put forth to convert someone in the community because of who he is or what he has.  This is wrong!  In some places the poor and uneducated are made to feel like second-class citizens in the kingdom of Christ.  This is wrong!  As they put it in one place, "There should be no big I's and little you's in the church."  The Scriptures are very clear on this matter.  James said that God has chosen the poor to be rich in faith and heirs of the kingdom (James 3:1-8).  Paul pointed out the importance of each member at Corinth when dealing with their problems over their spiritual gifts (1 Corinthians 12).  From this teaching we learn that--

  • Each member of the church is important because God placed them into their position in the church, not man.  "But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him" (1 Corinthians 12:18).  Remember, the Lord adds "daily to the church such as should be saved (Acts 2:47).  They are there because the Lord added them.

  • Each member of the body is important because our various abilities are needed in the body.  The Scriptures say, "For as the body is one, and hath many members, and all the members of that one body, being many, are one body: so also is Christ" (1 Corinthians 12:12).  The various abilities in the church are illustrated by using the various parts of the physical body.  In 1 Corinthians 12:13-18 we are told, "For by one Spirit are we all baptized into one body, whether we be Jews or Gentiles, whether we be bond or free; and have been all made to drink into one Spirit.  For the body is not one member, but many.  If the foot shall say, Because I am not the hand, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  And if the ear shall say, Because I am not the eye, I am not of the body; is it therefore not of the body?  If the whole body were an eye, where were the hearing?  If the whole were hearing, where were the smelling?  But now hath God set the members every one of them in the body, as it hath pleased him."  The body would be deformed if every member were the same.  In 1 Corinthians 12:19-21 we read, "And if they were all one member, where were the body?  But now are they many members, yet but one body.  And the eye cannot say unto the hand, I have no need of thee: nor again the head to the feet, I have no need of you."

  • Each member of the body is important whether it has great ability or it has very little.  "Nay, much more those members of the body, which seem to be more feeble, are necessary:  And those members of the body, which we think to be less honourable, upon these we bestow more abundant honour; and our uncomely parts have more abundant comeliness" (1 Corinthians 12:23).  The less able Christian is important to make up the whole church.

  • Each member is important to the church because he is cared for by the rest of the members.  "For our comely parts have no need: but God hath tempered the body together, having given more abundant honour to that part which lacked:  That there should be no schism in the body; but that the members should have the same care one for another.  And whether one member suffer, all the members suffer with it; or one member be honoured, all the members rejoice with it"  (1 Corinthians 12:24-26).  Christians rejoice and sympathize with each other (no matter which member it is), because we CARE FOR EACH OTHER-- ALL OTHERS.  The honor and service which Christians show to each other demonstrates to the world that these are the followers of Christ, who loved and gave himself for the church (Ephesians 5:25).  Galatians 6:10 tells disciples to do good to all men, but especially to fellow Christians.

  • Each member is important because he has some ability to help the body.  "Now ye are the body of Christ, and members in particular.  And God hath set some in the church, first apostles, secondarily prophets, thirdly teachers, after that miracles, then gifts of healings, helps, governments, diversities of tongues.  Are all apostles? are all prophets? are all teachers? are all workers of miracles?  Have all the gifts of healing? do all speak with tongues? do all interpret?  But covet earnestly the best gifts: and yet show I unto you a more excellent way" (1 Corinthians 12:27-31).  We do not possess these miraculous gifts as did the members of the church in Corinth, but the lesson from this passage is that every Christian can do something. Just because he is not able to do what another can do, does not mean that he is unimportant or not acceptable to God.

May God help us realize that every brother is a very important person in the kingdom of Christ.  Please be sure that you humbly recognize others for what they do for the cause.  Express your appreciation for them from time to time.