WHEN I WAS A YOUNG BOY the neighbor girl asked for my help to wash her car. She was just a few years older than myself, and being the kind, generous person that I am, I quickly left my chores of weeding the flower beds and charitably assisted this helpless neighbor. Upon my return, some few hours later, my father pulled me aside and said, “Son, I appreciate that you want to help your neighbor do her chores, but you need to make sure your chores are done first.”
I’ve saved this lesson in my heart for all these years, uncertain how to apply it to my life beyond the immediate application of leaving all to help the cute neighbor. That is, until now. I’ve been emphasizing so much about outreach lately, that I thought it was time to pause a bit and make sure our home chores are done. A brother in Christ, Bryan Gibson, calls these home chores of which I’m referring as “INreach.”
There’s no such word as “INreach”, but the idea of it is very clear in the Bible. We’re talking about the efforts of Christians, both collectively and individually, those who are “inside” (1 Corinthians 5:12), “Of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10), “our people” (Titus 3:14) – in other words, Fellow-Christians, or fellow saints, to encourage and to edify the body of Christ.
Looking at the letters from Paul to the evangelists, Timothy & Titus, it becomes obvious how much emphasis is given to “INreach”. Paul instructed the two evangelists to “set in order the things that are lacking?” (Tit 1:5) – to appoint qualified men to serve as elders and deacons (Titus 1:5-9; 1 Timothy 3:1-13); to keep the church pure from false doctrine (1 Timothy 1:3-11; 2 Timothy 2:14-18; Titus 1:10-14); to instruct brethren how to “live soberly, righteously, and godly in the present age” (Titus 2:12); etc. If we fail to do our own chores of “INreach” for very long, then we’re certain to have problems creep into our homes and lead some away with divers lusts (2Timothy 3:6). Yet, if we give it proper attention, then the weeds will be plucked away allowing the fruit to grow, including a people better prepared to reach OUT.
If we continue to study our Bibles, it will be difficult to miss what it says about our individual responsibilities to “one another.” We’re commanded to…Love one another (1 John 3:11, 23; 4:7, 11-12); be hospitable to another (1 Peter 4:9); admonish one another (Romans 15:14); weep and rejoice with one another (Romans 12:15); restore one another (Galatians 6: 1); comfort one another (1 Thessalonians 4:18); etc. As we continue to be an evangelistic church, remember to REACH IN, for your brethren need you and you need them. “As we have opportunity, let us do go to all, especially to those who are of the household of faith” (Galatians 6:10).
Look at these commendations to the early church: “God is not unjust to forget your work and labor of love which you have shown toward His name, in that you have ministered to the saints, and do minister” (Hebrews 6:10). “The household of Stephanas… they have devoted themselves to the ministry of the saints” (1 Corinthians 16:15). Brethren in Thessalonica received strong commendation for “brotherly love,” but were then urged to “increase more and more” (1 Thessalonians 4:9). Serving the needs of the saints takes up a lot of time. How can we “increase more and more?”
Jesus rebuked the Pharisees for overlooking the weightier matters of “judgment, mercy, and faith,” commanding them to do these, without leaving “the other undone” (Matthew 23:23). Putting these lessons together, we Saints need to strive to do ALL of the work of the Lord, balancing our duty to outreach to seek and to save the lost, with our “INreach” in teaching and strengthening our brethren. A spiritually strong, and loving church leads to a strong and loving outreach (John 13:35). The teaching of the New Testament clearly states this principle; “And he gave some, apostles; and some, prophets; and some, evangelists; and some, pastors and teachers; For the perfecting of the saints, for the work of the ministry, for the edifying of the body of Christ:” (Ephesians 4:11-12), showing us that a balanced church is “thoroughly equipped for every good work” (2Timothy 3:16-17).
It can be easy for us to criticize others in the church for their lack of outreach. We ought to remember that some of these are also doing the work of the Lord in their “INreach”. For a period of time, my baby doll and I were dedicated to bringing up our boys “in the nurture and admonition of the Lord” (Ephesians 6:4). This is a vital duty of parents, lest we lose the next generation of Christians from among our own families.
A final word, it is easy to turn “INreach” into selfishness, looking ONLY at your own personal needs. Yes, we have a duty to care for one another, but that duty doesn’t begin AFTER your needs are met. If I’ve learned anything it is this, when I’ve sought to “bear one another’s burdens,” that my burdens were also lifted (Galatians 6:2). Job had all restored to him AFTER he had prayed for his friends (Job 42:10).
If Christ is living in us (Galatians 2:20), we shall become a growing church. Growing in grace and knowledge of the Lord Jesus Christ (2Peter 3:18) AND growing in size from those that are outside as we preach the saving gospel of Jesus Christ (Matthew 28:18-20).