Daily Devotionals

How Can One Keep Warm Alone? – Pastor Steve Ellison

In Ecclesiastes 4:9-12, Solomon asks, “how can one man alone take care of himself?”  His obvious conclusion is that he cannot.  A man needs family and friends surrounding him.  Solomon points out several examples.   Two men working together can complete a job much more quickly than one alone.   A man who is injured or sick will recover much more quickly if he has someone to care for him.   If a man is attacked, it is much easier to defend himself, if he has one or two others to fight alongside him.

Solomon used one more example which was related to the question of how can one take care of himself alone.  If two lie down together on a cold night without adequate covering, they can stay warm, but one alone could not.  On a physical level that is certainly true, but it is also true on a spiritual level.  Salvation is a personal decision; we are saved individually; we are adopted into God’s family one by one.  However, both the Old and the New Testaments are full of instruction regarding the fact that even though we enter the kingdom of God individually, we are not supposed to live the Christian life alone.   Teaching in the Old Testament always commanded and assumed that the individual Israelites would be part of the larger assembly, the congregation as a whole.  They were called to always live “within the camp”.  A terrible punishment for grievous sin was to be put out of “the camp”.   Regardless of their physical location, every Israelite always considered his membership in the nation of the “Children of Israel” to be of supreme importance.

The teaching in the New Testament is exactly the same.  We come to Christ as individuals, but we are called to walk before God, not individually, but corporately.  The New Testament knows nothing of “Lone Ranger Christians”.   Believers in Christ are immediately added to the church.  By the way, God adds them, not members of the local church.   Ephesians says that each of these believers is gifted for service and in turn they are given as gifts to the church.  Their purpose is to equip the church so that it can be built up in love.   Believers are called to walk before the Lord in a manner worthy of their calling, and it cannot be done alone.  It must be done in the context of the local church.  It is not an individual stroll.  It is a corporate walk. 

I once heard an argument from a person who did not want the bother of committing to a local church.  He claimed that he could worship just as well by himself at the lake or the golf course.  He asked, “Why is that not acceptable?”   The answer was given to him, “You can, but you won’t.”   For many years I thought that was a good answer, but I have since changed my mind.  The right answer is, “You cannot because it is not possible”.   I do not mean to say that there is no place for solitary communion with and worship of the Lord.  Of course there is, but it is always a supplement to corporate worship and fellowship.  There is no way to become like Christ apart from being actively, regularly, consistently, involved in a committed relationship with a local church.  You will never learn to serve, evangelize, offend, be offended, love, forgive, accept forgiveness, etc. apart from a local body of believers.  You need the church and the church needs you.   How can one keep warm alone?  He cannot; the solitary coal will always grow cold and dark.

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