SOURCE: Gospel Advocate, 1/27/1972
A Lesson of Prime Importance:
Learn to Evaluate
by Frank L. Cox
All things are not of equal value. In the mineral kingdom, gold is more precious than brass; in the plant kingdom, a fruit tree is more important than a thistle; in the animal kingdom, man is of greater value than a sheep (Matthew 12:12); and in the spiritual kingdom, some things are superior to other things.
Because this is true, we should learn to evaluate, to place the emphasis where it belongs, especially in matters pertaining to the spiritual kingdom. Some have not learned to evaluate; hence, the confusion and strife and shameful loss of time and energy.
Our theme is one of practical value. In our study of it, let us go back to the Old Testament and move forward.
ONE… “To obey is better than sacrifice” (1 Samuel 15:22). The words of the prophet Samuel here were reproduced or referred to by other Old Testament writers (Psalm 51:16-17; Isaiah 1:11; Jeremiah 6:20; Hosea 6:6). Jesus gave utterance to the same great truth (Matthew 9:13). For obedience to the Divine will, there is no substitute (Matthew 7:21).
TWO… Moral uprightness before prayer. The prayer of the impenitent is not heard, his worship is unacceptable (Isa 1:15-17). But how powerful is the prayer of the righteous! (James 1:15-17).
THREE… It is more needful that we do justly, love kindness, and walk with God than to present any sacrificial offering (Micah 6:6-8; Matthew 5:23-24; 23:23-24).
FOUR… The kingdom is superior in value to material things (Matthew 6:31-33). Our interest in it (the church) should be paramount. For it Jesus died; it is His body; His bride; for it He will come.
FIVE… It is better to obey than to hear. We are commanded to hear (Matthew 17:5b); unless we hear we cannot obey; but, without obedience hearing comes to naught (Matthew 7:24-27).
SIX… The law of love is superior to any other law (Matthew 22:24-40). Love is greater than eloquence, or the gift of prophecy, or knowledge, or faith, or benevolence, or sacrifice (1 Corinthians 13:1-3, 13).
SEVEN… Inward cleanliness is more needful than outward cleanliness (Matthew 23:25-28). The motive is more important than the deed. What we think is more important than what we do. This is true because what we think determines what we do (Proverbs 4:23). God looks into the heart (1 Samuel 16:7).
EIGHT… The teaching program of the church is first and foremost (Matthew 28:18-20). When properly taught, people fulfill the divine plan for their lives.
- (1) When sinners are taught, they come to Christ (John 6:44-45).
- (2) When taught, Christians live as they should; attend the meetings of the church; worship as they should; and do every worthy work.
- (3) If the teaching program should fail, all spiritual progress would cease. There would be no more conversions, no more spiritual growth, the church would soon become extinct. But if the program continues, as it should, the church will move forward.
Beloved, learn to evaluate. When you learn to evaluate, pass the important lesson on to others. By this means, the church will learn to evaluate. Then our purpose will be single. Then, the church will be united. Then, no energy, no time will be wasted. Then, the church will move forward. Then, things of minor importance will receive minor consideration. Then, things of major importance will receive major consideration.
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