The apostle Paul wrote to the Christians at Corinth, "Be ye followers of
me, even as I also am of Christ" (1 Corinthians 11: 1). Again, he wrote,
"Examine yourselves whether ye be in the faith; prove your own selves"
(2 Corinthians 13:5). His admonition to the brethren at Galatia was,
"...Let every man prove his own work, And then shall he have rejoicing
in Himself, and not in another. For every man shall bear his own burden"
(Gal- atians 6:4,5).
This lesson is designed to help us recognize different attitudes
manifested by members of the church. Perhaps, if we really are honest,
we will be able to identify ourselves, and thus see the need to change
in order to become more useful and acceptable to the Lord.
The spectator is "one who looks on." The spectator is like those
disciples of Jesus, who would not identify with Him nor testify in his
behalf when He was tried by Pilate, The apostle Peter stands out as an
example (Matt. 26:69-75). He wanted to be close enough to see what was
going on, but not close enough to get involved. When the showdown came,
he even denied he knew Jesus. However, when he realized the serious
mistake he had made, he repented. The Bible says, "he wept bitterly"
(v.75). From that time on he faithfully served the Lord and became very
useful to the cause of Christ. In fact, two of the letters in the New
Testament bear his name. For Christ He even died as a martyr.
The commentator is "a person who makes critical or explanatory remarks
about news events." He is always ready to give his opinion about
everything that goes on in the church. He or she is a great source of
information and criticism and knows better than anyone how the Lord's
work ought to be done. That person may take little or no active part but
criticizes the efforts of those who do. He knows what should and what
should not be preached. He also knows just how long a sermon should be,
and criticizes what he does not like. The wise man Solomon writes, "Go
not forth hastily to strive, lest thou know not what to do in the end
thereof, when thy neighbor hath put thee to shame. Debate thy cause with
thy neighbor himself; and discover not a secret to another." It is easy
enough to find fault with the efforts of others and make our comments
about them, when we do nothing ourselves. If we know how things ought to
be done, why not be an example and show others how? A person once wrote,
"Be sure brain is in gear before putting mouth into motion." Real good
The agitator. To agitate is "to disturb, or excite into tumult." Often
the underlying cause for one to become an agitator in the church is envy
or jealousy. He may be jealous of another's ability, or be jealous of
his reputation or his influence. Of course, envy and jealousy are
condemned in the Scriptures (Gal. 5:19-21), and the apostle writes,
"they which do such things shall not inherit the kingdom of God." The
agitator is a troublemaker in the church. Who wants that kind of
reputation? It has been said, "Some people are just three kinds of
trouble, past present and future." Why does he not change and become a
peacemaker. Jesus said, "Blessed are the peacemakers..." Paul, the
apostle, said, "Let us therefore follow after the things that make for
peace..." (Rom. 14:19. And Peter said, "Let him seek peace and ensue it"
(1 Peter 3:11). One of the most important persons in the Lord's work is
The devastator is worse than the agitator. The devastator has "the rule
or ruin" attitude. He may work hand in hand with the agitator, but he is
willing to go further. He is the kind that will tear up a congregation
if he does not get his way about things. He is the kind that disturbs
the peace in a business meeting when brethren are discussing the affairs
of the church. He is disagreeable and hard to get along with. Paul tells
us what to do with the troublemaker. In Romans 16:17,18 he says, "Now I
beseech you, brethren, mark them which cause divisions and offences
contrary to the doctrine which ye have learned; and avoid them. For they
that are such serve not our Lord Jesus Christ, but their own belly; and
by good words and fair speeches deceive the hearts of the simple." Again
he says, "A man that is an heretic after the first and second admonition
reject; Knowing that he that is such is subverted, and sinneth, being
condemned of himself" (Titus 3:10,11).
The dictator is "one who assumes absolute control in the government
without hereditary right or consent of the people." In 3 John 9, 10 we
read of such a man. His name was Diotrephes. The apostle John says, " I
wrote unto the church: but Diotrephes, who loveth to have the
preeminence among them, receiveth us not. Wherefore, if I come, I will
remember his deeds which he doeth, prating against us with malicious
words: and not content therewith, neither doth he himself receive the
brethren, and forbiddeth them that would, and casteth them out of the
church." Even an elder in the church is not to be a dictator. Peter says
of the elders, "Neither as being lords over God's heritage, but being
ensamples to the flock" (1 Peter 5:3).
The lamentator is one who "mourns for or over." There are those in the
church who are always mourning over past failures or present
shortcomings of the church and fellow Christians, but who never do
anything or put forth any effort to make things better. It is alright to
weep for the right things. Jeremiah is known as "the weeping prophet of
Israel" because when, as a man inspired and sent by God to admonish and
teach his people, they rejected his message and continued in their sins.
Nehemiah wept and confessed his sins and the sins of his people
(Nehemiah 1:4-6), and then went to work to rebuild the walls of
Jerusalem to take away the reproach from Israel. The apostle Paul wept
when warning Christians that there sere some who were "enemies of the
cross of Christ" (Philippians 3:18,19). He was trying so hard to get his
brethren to be aware and understand. He was trying to do something about
The hesitator is one who procrastinates or puts things off that he ought
to do. There is a danger in this, because the apostle James says,
"Therefore he that knoweth to do good and doeth it not to him it is sin"
(James 4:17). When Paul presented his case before King Agrippa in Acts
26, the king was almost persuaded to become a Christian, but died
unprepared to meet God, because he hesitated to obey the gospel.
The imitator is a Christian who "imitates" or follows the example of
Christ and the apostles. Paul wrote, "Be ye followers (imitators) of me,
even as I also am of Christ" (1 Cor. 11:1). Again, he writes, "Brethren,
be followers together of me, and walk so as ye have us for an ensample"
(Phil. 3: 17). Such Christians influence others to become followers of
Christ by their good Christian example of walking in the footsteps of
Christ. We need more imitators in the church.
The meditator "engages in thought or contemplation." "Blessed is the man
that walketh not in the counsel of the ungodly, nor standeth in the way
of sinners, nor sitteth in the seat of the scornful. But his delight is
in the law of the LORD; and in his law doth he meditate day and night"
(Psalms 1:1,2). "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" (Philippians 4:8). "For as he thinketh in his heart, so
is admonished to be the kind of "tators in the church" so that we are an
asset to the Lord rather than a hindrance to His cause.