conquers. I will make him a pillar in the temple of my God; never shall he go
out of it, and I will write on him the name of my God, and the name of the city
of my God, the new Jerusalem which comes down from my God out of heaven, and my
own new name.” (Rev. 3:12).
Elder John was commissioned to
write to encourage the believers of a spiritual church. He
exhorts them to be victors and to become pillars in the temple of God.
Pillars are the support of a building. The building collapses when the pillars
fail to support it. Hence, pillars have a far reaching effect on the entire
building. Young believers must determine to become the pillars in the temple of God and take on greater responsibility.
The life span of man lies in the hand of God and life is soon over (Ps 90:10).
No one can add a cubit to his life span by being anxious (Lk 12:25). All those
who work for the church now will one day rest from their labours (Rev 14:13)
and return to heaven. Their task will be taken over by the younger generation.
Hence, while we are still young, we must be concerned in all church work. The
day will come when the responsibility will fall on us and we will not be
We must build ourselves up to be
the future pillars of the temple
of God. But how?
Build up a Godly Aspiration
We have believed, and have come to
know that Jesus is the Holy One of God (Jn 6:69). Moreover, we know whom we
have believed (2 Tim 1:12). Since we have such a firm foundation of faith like
a sure and steadfast anchor of the soul (Heb 6:19), we must go on to build up
the godly aspiration. This is the aspiration mentioned by Paul: “Him we
proclaim, warning every man and teaching every man in all wisdom, that we may
present every man mature in Christ. For this I toil, striving with all the
energy which he mightily inspires within me” (Col 1:28,29). Jesus
said, “You received without paying, give without pay” (Mt 10:8). God in His
great love once drew us up from the desolate pit and pulled us out of the
deadly quicksand (Ps 40:2). Now it is our turn to save others by snatching them
out of the fire (Jude 23). By the power of God, we can achieve what we aspire.
The weapons of our warfare are not worldly but have divine power to destroy
strongholds. We destroy arguments and every proud obstacle to the knowledge of
God, and take every thought captive to obey Christ (2 Cor 10:4, 5 ). Just as Paul said, I am sure
that he who began a good work in you will bring it to completion at the day of
Jesus Christ (Phil 1:6). Dear brothers and sisters,
do strive on to achieve your aspiration!
Look Beyond the Horizon
Abram and Lot both reared their
cattle between Bethel
and Ai. When the herds grew bigger, quarrels broke out between the men who took
care of Abram’s cattle and those who took care of Lot’s
cattle. Abram felt that he should not quarrel with Lot
who was his nephew. He asked Lot to choose the
land he wanted for his cattle. Lot, who was selfish and short-sighted, chose
the whole JordanValley for himself. But Lot later lost
all his possession in a catastrophe. Abram had no choice except to move to the land of Canaan. The Lord said to Abram, “Lift up
your eves, and look from the place where you are, northward and southward and
eastward and westward; for all the land which you see I will give to you and to
your descendants forever” (Gen 13:14,15). If God were to ask us to look in all
directions and give to us the land our eyes can see, would we not go up to a
hill and try to look beyond the horizon and hope for a bigger piece of land?
The further away we look, the more we will receive. It is good to be able to
One must always look beyond the
horizon when doing the work of God.
We must not just be immersed in
the immediate work of our local church. We must widen our vision and bring the
gospel to all nations. The era for preaching the gospel to all
the world is here. We must resolve to go to a place far away because
many of God’s people are there in that city (Act 15:10). We preach the gospel
so that their eyes may be open and that they may turn from darkness to light
and from the power of Satan to God, that they may receive forgiveness of sins
and a place among those who are sanctified by faith in Christ (Act 26:18).
By the wisdom of God and the
spirit of revelation, and having the eyes of our hearts enlightened, we must
look beyond the horizon through the eyes of our hearts (Eph 1:17, 18). We hope
for a bountiful harvest. The eyes of the flesh cannot see the great plan of
God. We look not to the things that are seen but to the things that are unseen;
for the things that are seen are transient, but the things that are unseen are
eternal (2 Cor 4:15). For the sake of the great
harvest, we must persevere to do the will of God even though it may appear to be difficult and full of obstacles. Our labour is not in
vain (1 Cor 15:58).
Cultivate the Spirit of Sacrifice
Paul said, “So faith, hope, love
abide, these three but the greatest of these is love. (1 Cor
13:13). The possession of faith and hope leads to blessing for oneself. The
possession of love is not just for oneself but for God and for man. For this
reason, love is the greatest of the three. Every spirit of sacrifice springs
from love. God so loved the world that he sent his only Son into the world, so
that we might live through him. This is how the love of God is manifested. He
sent his Son to he the expiation for our sins, This is
the great love of God - to sacrifice for the world (1 Jn
4:9-10). The sacrifice made by the Lord Jesus is the outcome of his love for
Service entails the sacrifice of
one's money, time, energy and spirit. This cannot be achieved without love. When
the disciples of Jesus were quarrelling over who among them was the greatest,
Jesus taught them and said, “whoever would be great among you must be your
servant, whoever would he first among you must be your slave; even as the Son
of man came not to be served but to serve, and to give his life as a ransom for
many” (Mt 20:26-25). It is a sacrifice to offer service in the household of
God. If it is not for the sake of love, no one is willing to become a servant
of all man. The Lord loves us and he willingly laid down his life for us. This
shows that love and sacrifice are closely related. He loves us and died for us.
His love controls us. Let us not live for ourselves but for Him (Gal 2:20; 2 Cor 5:14-15). Let us be like Him in loving man and in
service. Let us carry our cross and follow Him and live for Him (Mt 16:24).
Paul urged the people in the
church not to look only to their own interests, but also to the interests of
others, and to have the mind of Jesus as their mind (Phil 2:4-5). To be the
pillar in the temple
of God is to be a slave
of all man. He is often called upon to endure
hardship and suffering and to show the spirit of sacrifice. All the hardship
and suffering become bearable because of love.
The Ability to Forbear and Forgive
Those who are successful in life
are often marked by their ability to forbear and forgive others. As the Chinese
proverb says, “The belly of a Prime Minister can ‘bear’ a ship”. Most of the
great people in this world possess the ability to ‘bear’ the shortcomings of
others. The ability to ‘bear’ others comes from forbearance and forgiveness
which need to be cultivated.
To be the pillars in the temple of God and to lead in the church work, one
will inevitably come across people who are not co-operative. Directly or
indirectly, one would also hear some insulting criticisms. More often than not,
some simple - minded and impulsive people will jump into conclusion and start
criticizing about a certain matter before the matter is clarified. And there
are those who are jealous and who will point their fingers at everything. If
one does not have the ability to forbear and forgive, one would have given up
the job in a moment of anger. All the efforts will go down the drain. For this
reason, we must learn to forbear and forgive the shortcomings of others.
The Chinese proverb says, “lack of forbearance in a small thing will upset a great
plan”. We must succeed in our forbearance and not to give up halfway. The key
to success in forbearance is to begin with love. Paul said, “Love is patient
and kind’ (1 Cor 13:4). Love is manifested when the
mother shows patience and forgiveness to her naughty children. There may be
members in the church who go around and offend people by their words or
attitude, but they usually harbour no ill feelings. Perhaps they are a little
stubborn or they just want to show off, but their
behaviour will not harm the rest of the party as a whole. We must forbear and
forgive them and let them have a chance to repent.
The Lord Jesus, after washing the
disciples’ feet, said, “You also must wash one another’s feet” (Jn 13:14). The
teaching here is that of forgiving one another. It is a common fault of the
people of this world not to admit one’s own mistake. If there is any dispute,
it is the other party who is at fault. But who is faultless? Must it be others
who is at fault? We too need to reflect upon this.
When opportunity arises, forgive one another just like washing one another’s
When Isaac dwelt in the valley of Gerar, the wells he dug were either
robbed or filled with earth by his enemy. An ordinary person in Isaac’s place
will not tolerate such injustice. But Isaac’s forbearance and forgiveness soon put
his enemy to shame. The enemy admitted wrong and made an agreement with Isaac
that they will not harm each other. Isaac’s ability to forbear and forgive is
indeed admirable (Gen 26:18-31). Paul exhorts us not to repay evil with evil or
to take revenge but to give in to the enemy. When the enemy is hungry, feed
him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing we will heap burning
coals upon his head. Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good
In order to cultivate our ability
to forbear and forgive and to become the pillars in the temple of God, we must
bear in mind the following verses, “Put on then, as God’s chosen ones, holy and
beloved, compassion, kindness, lowliness, meekness, and patience, forbearing
one another and, if one has a complaint against another, forgiving each other;
as the Lord has forgiven you, so you also must forgive, and above all these put
on love, which binds everything together in perfect harmony (Col 3:12-14).
A Heart Lowly and Meek
Meekness is called upon especially
in the household of God. If the pillars in the temple of God,
that is, the slaves of all men, are proud and autocratic, how would they gain
respect from the believers? Believers are brothers and sisters to us and should
be treated with love as such. It is not like an autocrat exercising his power
over his subjects. Otherwise, the believers will gradually depart like lost
sheep and become food for all the wild beasts. Then the Lord God will require
from the shepherds. The wicked shepherds will be rejected by God (Ezek
Paul wanted us to have the heart
of Christ as our hearts. What is the heart of Christ? Jesus said, “Take my yoke
upon you, and learn from me; for I am gentle and lowly in heart, and you will
find rest for your souls” (Mt 11:29).
God chose Moses and entrusted him
with a great responsibility because Moses was very meek, more than all men that
were on the face of the earth (Num 12:3). If Moses who led the people was a
proud and autocratic man, then either he would have been killed by the people
he led or he would have given up the task halfway.
The meek are the great leaders who
remain calm and not driven by impulse when dealing with things. James said,
‘Let every man be quick to hear, slow to speak, slow to anger, for the anger of
man does not work the righteousness of God” (Jas 1:19-20). The Proverbs also
taught us when it says, “he who is slow to anger has
great understanding, but he who has a hasty temper exalts folly” (Prov.
14:29). And again it says, “He who is slow to anger is better than the mighty,
and he who rules his spirit than he who takes a city” (Prov
16:32). It is not easy to have full control over one’s emotion and anger and to
manifest gentleness. We must make effort to cultivate meekness in order to
Paul taught and exhorted the young
preacher Timothy and said, “The Lord’s servant must not be quarrelsome but
kindly to everyone, an apt teacher, forbearing, correcting his opponents with
gentleness. God may perhaps grant that they will repent and come to know the
truth, and they may escape from the snare of the devil” (2 Tim 2:24-26). A
gentle speech will not stir up the anger of the opponent. It saves oneself and
at the same time guides others to the way of life. The scriptures say. “A soft
answer turns away wrath, hut a harsh word stirs up anger” (Prov. 15:1) and “A
gentle tongue is a tree of life” (Prov. 15:1). A gentle tongue brings forth
the way of life, while the tree of life gives forth the fruit of life so that
those who eat of it will receive eternal life.
A Firm Determination
An athlete must possess a strong
determination to persevere to the end. In a marathon race, speed is of no avail
if one fails to reach the destination. In the journey to the heavenly kingdom,
without a strong determination to press on to the end, one can only look to the
holy city and sigh, unable to reach at the entrance.
The Bible recorded, “For we share in Christ, if only we hold our first
confidence firm to the end” (Heb 3:14). In other words, if our faith is not
steadfast till the end, then we have no part in Christ. There are those who
will say to the Lord, "Lord, Lord, did we not prophesy in your name, and cast
out demons in your name, and do many mighty works in your name?" (Mt 7:22). But
the Lord will declare that he never knew them. What a tragedy! The Lord said,
“He who endures to the end will he saved’ (Mt 24:13). Thus, we need to have
endurance so that we may do the will of God and receive what is promised (Heb 10:36). James also exhorted us and said, “Be patient,
brethren, until the coming of the Lord. Behold, the farmer waits for the
precious fruit of the earth, being patient over it until it receives the early
and the late rain. You also be patient. Establish your hearts, for the coming of the lord is at hand” (Jas 5:7-8). The strong
determination to persevere to the end comes from the growth in endurance.
We must have a faith which will
take us to the end. As the pillars in the temple of God
and as slaves in the household of God we must also take our tasks faithfully to
the end. Even on the day when we are to depart from this world, we are able to
join in the chorus with Paul, “For I am already on the point of being
sacrificed; the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I
have finished the race, I have kept the faith. Henceforth
there is laid up for me the crown of righteousness” (2 Tim 4:6-8). We must
imitate Paul, just as Paul imitates Christ.
As the pillars in the temple of God, we must train and nurture ourselves
in our godly aspiration, in looking beyond the horizon, in sacrifice, in our
ability to forbear and forgive, in meekness and steadfastness. We must continue
to press forward and be a strong pillar in the temple of God.
When the Lord appears again in his glory, he will say to you, “Well done, good
and faithful servant. Enter into the joy of your master” (Mt 25:21).
May the Lord take delight in us. May we be the vessels of noble use, consecrated
and useful to the master of the house. May all glory be to the Holy name of
Jesus (2 Tim 2:21).