The Question Column
Commendation To The Lord’s Work
(Concluded from the May-June issue)
QUESTION 3: Should an assembly withhold making commendations solely on the basis that it feels it might be unable to provide much financial support?
ANSWER: An assembly, like any individual Christian, looks to the Lord to supply the need for His people and His work. If the elders of the assembly have a divinely given exercise about a work, and if that exercise is shared by a brother whom the Lord has evidently fitted to do it, surely they and he should trust the Lord who leads them to supply every need. In my judgment, it would be wrong for an assembly to withhold commendation, on financial grounds, from one who has, in their judgment, been led by the Lord into a certain sphere of service. The situation would, of course, be different if the assembly brethren did not share the exercise of the brother who sought their commendation.
QUESTION 4: Should an assembly “take pleasure” in not having any commended workers serving fulltime in its midst?
ANSWER: I cannot visualize any circumstances in which an assembly should actually be pleased that they do not have commended workers working full-time. This does not, of course, mean that every assembly needs a full-time worker serving the Lord in their midst. Indeed, if each believer were exercising his divinely given gift, living close to the Lord, studying His Word and concerned for the needs of his brethren and the unsaved then the work of most assemblies could be carried out efficiently and for God’s glory by believers who are in “full-time” secular employment.
QUESTION 5: Is there any kind of order or general procedure to follow in seeing a brother go from “uncommended” as yet to a place of being commended?
ANSWER: I know of no set Scriptural “order” or “procedure” to be followed in all cases of commendation. However, on the basis of Acts 13:1-4, I would suggest the following:
An assembly in touch with the Lord and engaged in His service (note: “As they ministered to the Lord” — v. 2) will be sensitive to the Holy Spirit, as will individuals whom He calls into a particular sphere of work. When such a believer expresses his exercise, usually to the elders, they will prayerfully consider it — perhaps over a period of time. They may confer with other assemblies or workers with whom the brother has been associated. For instance, Timothy was “well reported of” (Acts 16:2) and evidently had the confidence of the assemblies at Lystra and Iconium, as well as having had the encouragement of the Apostle Paul in his service. Thus when the exercise of local elders is confirmed, they will extend the right hand of fellowship to the brother, perhaps at a meeting of the elders to which the brother is invited. Then, at a gathering of the whole church, the exercise and commendation will be made known, and exhortation and encouragement given to the believers on the need for prayerful as well as financial fellowship. Any other commending assembly, if within a reasonable distance, may wish to join such a meeting and express fellowship with the brother in his service for the Lord. Other steps to be taken will depend on individual circumstances, for example, the particular locality and sphere of the work.
— James T. Naismith
(Please send all questions to Dr. James T. Naismith, 1121 Hilltop St., Peterborough, Ont. K9J 5S6.)