by Sunday Ayandare | Ibadan, Oyo State, Nigeria
The Book of Proverbs presents to us a contrast between two women. On one hand is an immoral, seductress type who “flatters with her words; … of a crafty heart, who is loud and rebellious…” (Proverbs 7:5, 10-11). On the other hand is the virtuous type whose worth “is far above rubies” (Proverbs 31:10-29).
Not too long ago, two men in a local congregation presented a similar contrast. One brother was absent for the Lord’s Day worship and wrote a letter to the elders explaining why he was not present. He was going, according to him, “to sit and mourn along with other family members, the death of a relation who died in the United States of America.” And truly, this writer heard over the local radio station under the personal paid announcements (PPA) slot an announcement put up by the family that had lost an illustrious son in the USA in an auto crash. But that was Friday afternoon!
The announcement suggests that the death did not occur on that Friday. Moreover, it was evidently clear that the relationship between the deceased and this young man who claims to be a Christian was nothing more than what we usually describe as a “distant relative.” Now, our good brother had that Friday to go and “sit and mourn with the family,” but he did not! He had the following day, Saturday, to go and weep with other relatives. Yet, he did not! The auspicious time as far as he was concerned came on Sunday morning! Not even Sunday afternoon after the Lord’s Day worship was over. No, it just must be Sunday morning and not at any other time!
Would you like to know the reaction of the elders? They decided that the letter be read publicly and not only be publicly rejected, but publicly rebuked! The elders reasoned that the letter was terribly scandalous and put a question mark on the brother’s claim to be a faithful Christian. First Timothy 5:20 says, “Them that sin rebuke before all, that others also may fear.”
In the audience for the Lord’s Day worship was another brother whose daughter died just the previous night. Her remains were committed to mother earth just a few hours before that Sunday morning. Precisely, the burial took place at about 10:30 p.m. on that Saturday night. This 25-year old young lady was already proving to be the brightest star in the horizon of the family. Indeed, she was the only daughter of her father and mother. What a tragedy!
Besides, this brother had the unfortunate lot of watching his only daughter breathing her last breath. Yet, this man was there to worship the Lord of all lords on this particular Lord’s Day. What a sharp contrast!
One writer has aptly observed: “Generally, attendance is a faith problem. The weak who looks for an excuse will find one. The strong, who faces the same problems and difficulties as other people, somehow manages always to attend.”
There are people who have no faith (Mark 4:40). There are those of little faith (Matthew 6:30; 8:26; 14:31). And there are those with great faith (Matthew 8:10). It is high time we join the apostles in pleading, “Lord, increase our faith” (Luke 17:5).