Uninvolved

photo depicting a woman alone in a field
photo by Matthew Henry

On March 13, 1964, a young woman named Kitty Genovese was murdered in Queenes. Two weeks after the attack, the New York Times ran a story that there were some thirty-eight witnesses to the crime. But no one wanted became involved. Thirty-eight people watched a young lady assaulted three times, and they watched her die. No one, however, interceded in any way – not even to call the cops. Kitty’s death may have been prevented had someone simply decided to get involved.

Staying Uninvolved

Think of the souls you see every day. How many of them are dying spiritually? How many need us to become involved in their spiritual lives? With how many of them do we study the good news of God’s word? Too often, like those witnesses to Kitty’s death, we just don’t get involved.

We make many excuses about our lack of involvement. We claim to not know enough, but II Timothy 2:15 says the remedy to that is simple: study. Ephesians 5:17 calls on us to understand that word. Think of all the things you’ve learned in your life — a specialty, how to cook, trivia and information that fascinates you. We can put the same energy into our study of God’s word that we do into those other topics.

We may believe we don’t have anyone to study with, but think of the numerous people we see every day. How many people do you tell when you have a piece of good news to share — around our workplace, on Facebook, with perfect strangers. Matthew 10:38 calls our world a field in which to sow the seed of God’s word. Everyone we meet is a potential recipient of God’s word.

Unfortunately, we sometimes decide those people are unwilling to hear God’s word. I Peter 3:15 tells us to always be ready to share the hope within us, but we may fear ridicule or rejection. II Timothy 3:12 and Matthew 10:35-39 both warn us that we will indeed face that rejection we fear, but we can’t let that stop us.

Conclusion

We cannot be timid when it comes to God’s word, and we need to be seeking God’s approval more than man’s. Romans 1:16 calls the gospel God’s power of salvation. Do we truly believe that. Are we really unashamed of that good news? What will we say when we see those souls again on the last day? John 15:1-2 warns us against being cut off for lack of bearing fruit.

We should be making every effort to share God’s word every chance we get. We should be actively involved. Matthew 5:13 calls us the salt of the earth, and verse 14 calls us the light of the world. We must be active sharers and doers of God’s word if we are to fulfill the roles. We cannot be like those who just stared out their windows when tragedy struck one of their neighbors. We need to be involved in saving souls.

Editor’s Note:

This lesson was first delivered in 2011. Since then, the New York Times has run a follow-up on the story stating that the original account was flawed and exaggerated the extent to which the neighbors understood what was going on.

While there was no question that the attack occurred, and that some neighbors ignored cries for help, the portrayal of 38 witnesses as fully aware and unresponsive was erroneous. The article grossly exaggerated the number of witnesses and what they had perceived. None saw the attack in its entirety. Only a few had glimpsed parts of it, or recognized the cries for help. Many thought they had heard lovers or drunks quarreling. There were two attacks, not three. And afterward, two people did call the police. A 70-year-old woman ventured out and cradled the dying victim in her arms until they arrived. Ms. Genovese died on the way to a hospital.

I wanted to preserve this lesson in its original form, but I also feel its important to share updated information since the premise of the message was inspired by real-world events.

Worship at Work

woodwork
photo by Mike Kenneally

We have been studying that worship is more than what we do within the walls of our congregation. In every aspect of our lives, we worship God in our conduct, in our attitudes, and in our service to Him in all places and all times. This carries over to our workplace. The way we conduct ourselves at work reflects who we are as Christians, and there should be no separation between the standards we hold ourselves to at church and our expectations of ourselves at work.

We set an example when we are working. The ethics and morality we follow, the language we use, the way we treat those we work with, the attitudes we demonstrate — these show God and others our true commitment to our Christian walk. Does our conduct at work demonstrate our faith and values, or do we contradict our spiritual lives with our work lives?

Christians at Church and Work

In Matthew 15:8-9, Jesus calls one whose words and actions do not match a hypocrite. I John 1:6 warns that we are lying to ourselves if we think we follow Him while not living by His word. If we are worshiping God in word on Sunday, but the deeds of our lives do not back that worship up, then that worship in in vain.

Romans 12:14-21 outlines some principles we should be following: not giving into temptation, living peaceably with others, never repaying evil with evil. God does not grant us exemptions on expectations simply because we are earning an income. We spend a great deal of time at work. It’s where we have the most connections and opportunities, and it is where we should be working hardest to let our light shine.

Living Thankfully at Work

We often offer thanks for our jobs and our material blessings. We pray for His continual provisions for us and our families. If we are not living the way we should at work, however, we are praying in vain. Ephesians 6:5-8 tells us we should be good employees — not to please man, but to please God. Colossians 3:22-25 says much the same, reminding us that our true reward comes from God and not from man. I Timothy 6:1-2 and Titus 2:9-10 encourage us to conduct ourselves humbly and ethically in the workplace.

We need to work as if we are working for God. Our work ethic should be impeccable. We should deal honestly with those we come into contact with at work. We should never leave an opening for someone to say about us: “They did that? I thought they were a Christian.” This means we avoid griping and moaning. We avoid taking advantage of our position. We should be respectful to our managers and supervisors, and we should be honestly earning the wages we’re given.

I Peter 2:18-21 teaches the difficult lesson that we are to work well for difficult employers as we would for a good manager. What credit is it to us if we work well for someone easy to work with? Our character really comes out when things get tough. If we are in a position of authority, however, Ephesians 6:9 tells us we should be as humble as if we were in a position of subjection. We are to be respectful, fair, and kind toward those who work under us.

Worship At Work

When we work as God would have us, living the trust we have for God in our lives, then we will set an example to people we may not even know are looking up to us. Our conduct can glorify God in a setting where there is much to lead us astray — pressures to socialize in ungodly ways, to fall into ungodly joking and conversations, to get caught up into office dramas, to skim a little extra for ourselves. If we keep Him first, worshiping Him even in the workplace, then we can keep ourselves above those influences.

What matters to you at work? Do your actions and attitudes reflect God? Work with respect and good will for your superiors. Demonstrate integrity. Offer good service to employers both good and bad. Remember your ultimate master is in Heaven, and it is He we seek to please. Treat those under your authority with kindness and respect. Treat coworkers, employers, and employees the way you want them to treat you. Let your conduct at work be worship to our Heavenly Father, the final authority and master in our lives.

A Giving Heart

Carl Bloch's painting depicting Jesus sitting before a crowd and delivering the Sermon on the Mount
The Sermon on the Mount
Carl Bloch, 1890

Matthew 6:1 – 4:

“Beware of practicing your righteousness before other people in order to be seen by them, for then you will have no reward from your Father who is in heaven.

“Thus, when you give to the needy, sound no trumpet before you, as the hypocrites do in the synagogues and in the streets, that they may be praised by others. Truly, I say to you, they have received their reward. But when you give to the needy, do not let your left hand know what your right hand is doing, so that your giving may be in secret. And your Father who sees in secret will reward you.”

In these words, Jesus is asking us to look into the heart of giving. Here, Jesus assumes we are going to be gracious and generous. He doesn’t command that we give. He shouldn’t need to. If we are putting Christ on in our lives, we will be a people who give. Rather than focusing on the act, then, here Jesus focuses on the motivation behind giving.

Giving for the Right Reasons

We understand the joy of giving. We see this joy in giving in several places in the New Testament. When the church is striving to form, we see the early Christians gladly sharing with one another. We know the praise Paul gives the churches in Macedonia for their generosity in his labors. And we also know that we are supposed to help both Christian and non-Christian alike. What really matters is what leads us to give.

At the end of Matthew 5, Jesus directs us to love those who would harm us and then to be perfect as our God is perfect. This heart of giving is part of that perfection. He warns us against giving for attention or praise. If we do so, Jesus says we receive a reward in this life. It’s an immediate reward, but it negates a better reward. Instead, Jesus directs us to be generous in humble secrecy. Then will our God praise us.

The Humble Christian

True Christianity does not seek praise or attention. True Christianity does not boast or call attention to self. Christianity instead points attention to God through humble conduct, through grace, and through self-sacrifice. This goes beyond our generosity. As we’re going to see when we examine the following verses, it goes to all acts of righteousness. Whether we are preaching, giving, leading a prayer, or studying our Bibles — we can do all of these things in a way that draws attention away from God and to ourselves.

When was the last time you gave something anonymously? We live in a one-up culture, and it’s a temptation to carry this over to our giving and other acts of service. Our pride wants to give voice to our accomplishments. As Christians, we should be willing to lay aside that pride and conduct ourselves in all humility, even to the point of anonymity.

I might not be able to keep secrets from my own hands, but I can keep my pride in check. Rather than impressing others with my generosity, I should be honoring God in giving. We’re not seeking to impress God with our humility, but our humble conduct honors God. This takes focus off of self and places the credit entirely on God, for, if the recipient has no credit to give for their blessing, then who else can they praise but God? By taking self out of the equation, we become God’s hands. We become His arms, and we see the work that we do as His rather than ours.

I Peter 4:10 – 11:

As each has received a gift, use it to serve one another, as good stewards of God’s varied grace: whoever speaks, as one who speaks oracles of God; whoever serves, as one who serves by the strength that God supplies–in order that in everything God may be glorified through Jesus Christ. To him belong glory and dominion forever and ever. Amen.