Annual health screenings are vital to maintaining good health. Regular oil changes are necessary to keep a vehicle in good running order. Cleaning and maintenance play a large role in the longevity of a home. So many things in life cannot function properly without periodic evaluation to ensure proper operation. The same is true with individual and congregational spiritual health. Like a doctor runs tests to examine data indicating an individual’s level of health, so God’s Word furnishes us with the ability to examine ourselves spiritually. Revelation begins with Jesus’ addresses to 7 congregations scattered throughout Asia Minor. The Lord examined each congregation closely and had something to say to them regarding their overall health. A close inspection of Jesus’ remarks to each one helps us to judge our own congregational well-being. What are the signs of a thriving, healthy congregation? One very important indicator is a willingness to work hard. To the church at Ephesus Jesus said, “I know your… labor” (Rev. 2:2). The word “labor” has to do with exhausting and toilsome work. As we sometimes say, “he works his fingers to the bone.” To the church at Thyatira Jesus said, “…and as for your works, the last are more than the first” (Rev. 2:19). Such a commendation indicates that their service in the Kingdom was growing and improving with time. These two passages make clear the fact that Christ wants hardworking congregations.
We are “created in Christ Jesus for good works” (Eph. 2:10) and we must be “zealous” in them (Tit. 2:14). God does not want congregations to exist solely as a “worshipping society,” in which members show up on Sunday to worship but put forth no other effort in service to God. He wants congregations who are busy teaching (2 Tim. 2:2), serving (Gal. 6:10), and encouraging (Rom. 14:19). Such congregations exist because of the individuals who make them up. If congregations which work like Ephesus and Thyatira are to exist, then Christians who work like Epaphroditus (Phil. 2:5), and Tryphena and Tryphosa (Rom. 16:12) must exist. What about you? What about your congregation?