Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
November 9, 1961

A Trust Committed To The Faithful

J. D. Tant, Portales, New Mexico

"And the things which thou hast heard from me among many witnesses, the same commit thou to faithful men, who shall be able to teach others also." (2 Tim. 2:2)

The subject we are considering has been neglected too long, and much damage has resulted from the neglect. The idea has been in my mind for some time, but I give thanks to brethren Charles A. Whitmire and Harold Fite for much of the material presented in this article. This is in reality an expansion of the thoughts they have ably presented in their bulletins.

"Faithfulness" is one of the oft-mentioned qualities in the New Testament. Faithfulness is required of a servant over a household (Matt. 24:45-46); concerning our handling of the material goods given us in this life (Luke 16:10-13); of the women in the church (1 Tim. 3:11); even in the face of death itself. (Rev. 2:10)

Since faithfulness is required of each member, this is the very least we should expect of one who leads the church in any way. Such was commanded to Timothy, who, through his preaching, had a public part in the church. His faithfulness was to be an example to others. (1 Tim. 4:12) This faithfulness is also required of teachers, who certainly are used publicly. (2 Tim. 2:2) The qualifications for elders and deacons leave no doubt as to the faithfulness of the men who do serve.

Therefore it seems consistent that one who serves the church in any way should be faithful. The men chosen in Acts 6:1-6 were chosen to perform a certain task. They were servants of the church. When their task was completed or fulfilled, they stopped being servants of the church in a special sense. Likewise, those who are called upon to lead prayer, wait on the table, teach a class, make the announcements, or lead the singing are servants of the church — asked to do a particular job.

The practice of many churches in using unfaithful brethren in these capacities seems inconsistent and injurious to the cause of Christ. Let us notice some reasons for this conclusion.

When the unfaithful is given a class to teach, what will such a one teach? Will he teach fidelity and faithfulness to the Lord and his church? Will he teach that one must sacrifice his time and personal pleasure to serve the Lord? Will he admonish his (or her) students to "Do as I say, and not as I do?"

Do we want our children to learn by the example of indifference that such a teacher would show in his "once-a-week" attendance; his lack of dedication; his disinterest shown in a thousand ways? Be not deceived! Our children will learn these things if we allow them to be taught by such. We should think enough of the eternal welfare of our children to see that those who teach have a life in harmony with what they should be teaching.

Then what about calling on the unfaithful to lead prayer? We wonder just what he can pray for, as he leads the congregation, that would be consistent with his life of indifference. Will the Lord even hear the prayers of those who make little attempt at doing the Lord's will? John 9:31 suggest not. James 5:16 emphasizes the quality of righteousness needed before a prayer avails much.

Would we call upon such a one to come and pray for us in time of illness or trouble? I think not. We would rather call for those whose faithfulness is known to all.

And where does this indifferent brother get the nerve to pray "Bring us back together at the appointed time" when he knows as well as anything that he won't even consider coming at the next appointed time?

Those who wait upon the Lord's Table are before the church and visitors in a sense as chosen representatives of the church. It certainly seems a poor choice when we select those to serve this most solemn feast who care so little for the Lord that they give a minimum of their time, talent, and goods to the Lord. But so many times the ones called upon for this service are the ones who haven't been to services in a month or two.

What benefit do we think comes from asking the unfaithful to lead the singing — an important part of our worship? Does it seem to make good sense for us to place before the public some of the poorest examples of "Christians" we can find? How many businesses would show forth a good image to the public if they consistently chose their worse employees to represent their company to the public? Surely the Lord's own words are true: "....foe the sons of this world are for their own generation wiser than the sons of the light." (Luke 16:8)

The unfaithful cannot even consistently make the announcements. How can one encourage the congregation to "remember the services of the week" when he personally has no such intention? This is nothing but hypocrisy, and should be repulsive to Christians.

Some try to defend such practice by pointing out that such use of the unfaithful encourages them to be more faithful. I have known some who even wanted to call upon sectarians to lead prayer and to lead the singing. But rather than encouraging the weak, it can, and often does, result in hindering. These brethren feel, rightfully, that their use constitutes approval. "After all, what's wrong with my unfaithfulness? The elders consider me faithful enough to lead prayer, teach a class, etc."

The weak and unfaithful certainly need to be encouraged and admonished at every opportunity, but using them publicly is not the way to accomplish this. We should not 'educe the reverence, power, and acceptability by placing such men before the congregation as leaders and teachers. They need to be led and taught! They do not need to lead and teach?

It should be the goal of every member of the church to lead such a life that there is no question about our use publicly by the church. Then we will have given heed to 1 Tim. 4:12. Then 2 Tim. 2:2 will have some meaning, for the trust will have been committed to the faithful.