What Are We “Saying” By Forsaking The Assembly
We often fail to realize how we can say or imply things indirectly by what we do or fail to do. Forsaking the assembly of the saints is one example of when we do so. Our actions can have a huge impact on those around us. The New Testament commands us to assemble together to worship God (Acts 2:42; 20:7; 1 Cor. 14:23; 16;1,2), and it clearly tells us not to forsake those times when we do (Heb. 10:25). The writer of Hebrews wrote, “And let us consider one another in order to stir up love and good works, not forsaking the assembling of ourselves together, as is the manner of some, but exhorting one another, and so much the more as you see the Day approaching” (Heb. 10:24,25). God wants His followers to assemble together to worship Him and be there to help one another grow in the grace and knowledge of His Son Jesus Christ. There are obviously times when we cannot make it to every assembly of the saints because of illness, emergency, or a job which requires us to occasionally work at the same time of worship. But, the Hebrews writer is not speaking about occasions like that. He is speaking about intentionally forsaking the assembly. When someone forsakes the assembly, he simply decides not to come when there is no good reason to prevent him from doing so. Those who forsake the assembly are those who find it merely inconvenient or have something else they would rather be doing with their time. When brethren choose to do so, they are not only disobeying a direct command of God, but they are also implying several things they may not immediately realize they are “saying.” Let’s consider a few things we are “saying” when we choose to forsake the assembly of the church.
1. When we forsake the assembly, we are saying that God is not the most important thing in our life. Jesus said, “Seek first the kingdom of God and His righteousness” (Matt. 6:33). Solomon wrote that the whole duty of man is to “Fear God and keep His commandments” (Eccl. 12:13). When we forsake the assembly because we are a little tired, our child has team practice, or there is a television show we want to watch; are we saying that God comes absolutely first in our lives? Would we skip work on a regular basis for the same reasons? Would our employers be as understanding about such behavior? When we fail to assemble with the saints on Sundays or Wednesdays for reasons like these, we are saying to God and those all around us that God is not the number one priority in our lives.
2. When we forsake the assembly, we are saying to our bothers and sisters in Christ that we don’t love them like the Bible says we should. One of the purposes of coming together as Christians is to edify, encourage, and support one another. We cannot give the support, or receive it, if we are not present. The Hebrews writer stated we should come together to “consider one another in order to stir up love and good works” (Heb. 10:24). He also said we should “exhort one another daily…lest any of you be hardened through the deceitfulness of sin” (Heb. 3:13). Forsaking not only hurts the Christian who is forsaking the assembly, but also all those who miss the presence of the one not there. Remember, we show our love for God by showing our love for our brothers and sisters in Christ (1 John 4:7-11).
3. When we forsake the assembly, we are saying to our children that worshipping God is not that important. Parents have the spiritual responsibility of “training up a child in the way he shall go” so that when he matures “he will not depart from it” (Prov. 22:6). If we train our children to believe that missing the worship assembly is not a big deal, then when he is older, that is exactly what he will believe. How can we show our children that God must come first in their lives when we give priority to sports events, leisure activities, or time for relaxation? Fathers have been charged by God to bring their children up in the “training and admonition of the Lord” (Eph. 6:4). Our children need to grow up seeing their parents put God first in their lives so they will follow their godly example. -Ed