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Reciprocal Helpfulness

August 27, 2014 | by: Mike Law | 0 Comments

Over the last couple of weeks I’ve been doing some reading on various matters related to the church. In the midst of that reading, I came across an article entitled “Duties of Church Members,” by John Angell James. James was the Pastor of Carrs Lane Church in Birmingham, England for 54 years. He began at Carrs Lane as the pastor when he was only 20 and remained there until his death. Having faithfully cared for Christ’s sheep and diligently studied God’s Word, it is no surprise that James had great insight on the subject of the duties of church members. James covered 5 areas in his article:

  1. Duties which members owe to their pastors
  2. Duties which members owe to each other
  3. Duties which members owe to the church in its collective capacity
  4. Duties which members owe to Christians of other congregations and denominations
  5. Duties of members in reference to the world

While James’ article is worth being republished in its entirety (excepting perhaps his complaint against “card playing” and a few other quips), I simply want to pull out a few of his thoughts on the duties which church members owe to one another. This seems appropriate given that on Sunday, we will (Lord willing) reflect on Jesus statement from John 13:34-35, “a new commandment I give you, that you love one another: just as I have loved you, you also are to love one another. By this all people will know that you are my disciples, if you have loved one another.”

John Angell James makes the case that church members have at least three duties toward one another: reciprocal love, reciprocal watchfulness, and reciprocal helpfulness. Of those three duties I found James’ thoughts on reciprocal helpfulness the most encouraging. James writes, “Reciprocal helpfulness is another duty of church members, and another end of church fellowship. We all need assistance in the way to glory, not only from God, but as his instruments – from each other; and we are associated together for this purpose.” It is my prayer that the Lord would make us (the members of Arlington Baptist) proactive in graciously giving our fellow church members “assistance in the way to glory.”

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