All Your Things
In the practical everyday life of a gathering together of saints three things especially call for careful and constant attention. They are spoken of in 1 Corinthians 14:26, 40; 16:14.
Taking the last of these first as being the most important of all, perhaps, let us speak a little upon,
“LET ALL YOUR THINGS BE DONE WITH LOVE.”
Whatever is performed at any time by any of the saints, whether in word or deed (and much may be done by a word), all—yes, ALL—is to be done with love. This is to be the ruling power in every action. ALL our things are to be done with love.
Divine love has been emphasized in the thirteenth chapter. This is the Christian’s measure. How much I love is my true stature. Not my ability, not my gift, not my almsgiving, not my power of speech; not my working of miracles, or speaking with tongues—I may have any or all of these, and added together they may total to “Nothing” if I have not love.
How little this is recognized! Put the powers spoken of in verses 1-3 of the chapter into form as an addition sum and observe how it appears.
1.—Tongues of men and of angels.
3.—Understanding of mysteries.
4.—Fullness of knowledge.
5.—Faith to remove mountains.
The more showy gifts and teaching powers and gifts of money, and so forth, are looked upon by many as all-important. But they are NOTHING unless love is the ruling principle in them all. The desire for praise and prominence may be the motive instead of divine love, and He who reads the heart and who will judge the secrets of men in that day counts all such “NOTHING.”
Happy is the saint or servant when love—divine love—fills his heart, when Christ is manifested in his dealings with his fellow-believers. And it has been remarked that in the path of our Lord, as portrayed in the pages of the Gospels, we may see that coming out which is called for in us. Thus in verses 4 to 8 we may substitute “Christ” for charity, or love, and read, Christ “suffereth long, is kind, envieth not, vaunts not, is not puffed up,” and so forth.
The Holy Spirit is given to us that something of Christ may come out in our lives. And in Galatians 5:22 we find that the first item in “the fruit of the Spirit, is love.” We are “taught of God to love one another.”
The twelfth chapter of this epistle gives the mechanism of the engine. The fourteenth chapter gives the engine in its true running order. The thirteenth chapter comes between, and is as the lubricating oil that is necessary for the sweet, smooth running of the engine. Without the oil the bearings will become hot, and engine trouble ensue. We need to “walk in the Spirit” in our companying one with another and to take good heed that all our things are done with love. Let us think in love for every saint of God, for love is “to all saints,” and let us speak and act in love one with the other in all our things, whatsoever they may be.
Turning now to verse 26 of chapter 14 let us consider, briefly,
“LET ALL THINGS BE DONE TO EDIFYING.”
If love be in unhindered activity, edification will be the aim and object in all that which is effected in our comings together. Love will desire the building up of all. The thought of edification is prominent in the chapter: “He that prophesieth speaketh to edification” (v. 3); “He that speaketh in an unknown tongue edifieth himself; but he that prophesieth edifieth the church” (v. 4); “That the church may receive edifying” (v. 5); “The other is not edified” (v. 17). Finally, our immediate theme, “Let all things be done unto edifying” (v. 26).
Loving our brother we shall desire his spiritual prosperity and progress and profit. It is this our Lord desires. Our coming together in assembly is provided for us that there may be mutual advantage and exhortation and comfort.
It should be our earnest endeavour, therefore, to promote the well-being of all in everything which is enacted. “The spirits of” even “the prophets are subject to the prophets.” No one is compelled to take part. If it will not be for common good for one to take part he should be silent. Even in the early days when sign gifts were calling the attention of “them that believe not” to the fact that Christianity was established among men—even then, if a man had the gift of tongues he was not to exercise it unless some one could interpret, so that all might be advantaged—“That all may learn, and all may be comforted” (v. 31).
God our Father loves all His children. Our Lord Jesus Christ loves us every one. The Holy Spirit desires the good of each and of all.
Therefore in taking part in the meeting each should aim at the general benefit of saints. The prayers, the praises, the hymns, the ministry of those who teach, all should have that end in view. If led to speak one may turn to the Lord, in the midst of the “two or three,” or more, who are together, and ask, “Lord, will this be helpful to Thine own?” or, “Lord, make what I say of true benefit to Thy loved ones!” Then if one does not judge that it will be of use, it is best to remain quiet that another may be led in the way of encouragement and edification of all. True love leads to true edification. Let all things—all things—ALL THINGS be done unto edifying. All things with love. All things unto edifying. The motive power and the object.
“LET ALL THINGS BE DONE DECENTLY AND IN ORDER.”
This exhortation has to say to that which is outward and manifest. That is to be sought which is comely and suitable in connection with the holy things of God. God is not the Author of confusion but of peace. We see order in creation and in providence. All works smoothly for the good of His creatures. Having to say to these holy things we should avoid all tumult and unquietness, all conflict and contention, and any thing of any kind which would disturb the calm and quiet of the meeting (see Acts 9:31). There is a propriety of conduct which is right, and an orderly carrying out of everything is called for in the fear of God.
In this connection our coming to the meetings at the hour arranged should be considered. A little forethought will often prevent the disturbance of a meeting caused by late arrivals.
Some quaint lines may be quoted as to this, which state truth, though their poetry may leave something to be desired:
“A little more contrivance in the head,
A little less indulgence in the bed,
A little more decision in the mind,
Will save from being found so far behind.”
The arrangement of the seats, the supply of books (not torn or untidy), the care for all the details connected with the comfort of those present, may well be thought of beforehand, and everything carried out in a decent and orderly way, “with reverence and godly fear.” In these and in all other ways we should seek to be found doing everything as in the presence of God, desiring His glory and the good of His loved ones. Therefore, “Let ALL things be done decently and in order.”
These three—love, edification, order—having their rightful place with us, will conduce to the well-being of the saints and to the praise of the name we love, “in all the assemblies.”
Help and Food 1929