Devoted to the Propagation and Defense of New Testament Christianity
March 16, 1967
NUMBER 44, PAGE 11b,12b

Signs Of The Times (VI.)

Lloyd Moyer


Emulations is one of the works of the flesh listed by the apostle Paul in Gal. 5:19-20. It means "effort or desire to equator excel others; also jealous rivalry.." (The New Century Dictionary). See also An Expository Dictionary of New Testament Words by W. E. Vine. It is translated "jealousies" in the ASV.

If the signs of the times mean anything, they indicate that more teaching should be done on the subject of Emulations. I realize that there is nothing wrong with my improving the standard of living for my family. However, to be motivated by the desire to equal or excel some one else IS wrong. It is a work of the flesh and will damn my soul as surely as other works of the flesh. Yet, we see signs of emulations on almost every hand. Many families seek to equal or excel others regardless of their incomes. New homes, cars, furniture, clothes and gadgets of all sorts are bought, not because they are needed, but because someone else has them. Of course, we MUST "keep up with the Joneses". This reminds me of the story of a number of young couples who grew up together and attended the same school. They settled in a modest neighborhood. One by one the couples sold their homes and bought more expensive ones on what was known as "silk stocking row." Finally, only one couple remained in the old neighborhood. The others constantly pressured them to sell and move up with them. They were told that they should "keep up with the Joneses". To which the man replied, "Why should I seek to "keep up with the Joneses" up there; down here I am the Joneses".

Indeed, I fear that this sin will damn more members of the church than any other. Many people so obligate themselves for luxuries of life that if they should be out of work, with no income for a month, they would be in serious financial trouble. As a result, there is a gradual financial strangulation. The tension, strain and feeling of insecurity brings about bickerings, bitterness and hostilities. It creates a situation where the husband must start "moonlighting" (work at a second job) in order to meet the bills. And, even worse, sometimes the wife must leave the home and go out into the business world. I know that sometimes it is absolutely necessary for the wife to work outside the home. I am not talking about that kind of situation. But I am talking about circumstances brought about by emulations. (No wonder so many young men are dropping dead with heart attacks.)

Emulations, when practiced over a period of time, creates an inordinate desire for those things beyond our means. This leads to more buying on "time payment plans" which add to the already aggravated condition. We may want many things which we are just not able to buy. We must learn to be content with what we are able to provide.

As I travel about in gospel meeting work, I see so many brethren who cannot give scripturally simply because they practice emulations. Most brethren have adequate housing, cars, clothes, televisions, sports equipment, etc. But because of so many monthly bills they cannot afford an adequate building in which to worship, nor, to support a man to devote full time to preaching the gospel.

I see emulations in evidence among preachers. I should do the very best job I can of preaching. However, I should NEVER be motivated by the desire to equal or excel some other preacher. (II Cor. 10:12)

Our motive in service to Christ should be to please Him. We should never do anything just simply to do as well as or better than some one else. We are NOT in competition with one another. This is the reason I question the practice of Bible school teachers giving prizes to the student who does better than all the others. It plants, in the mind of children the idea of "seeking to equal or excel others" and this IS emulations.

Possibly you have heard some one say, "I give as much or more than Brother So and So" or "If you will give so much, I will match it". These and like expressions simply show that brethren do not understand the danger of emulations. Of course, what others do may provoke me to do greater things. (II Cor. 9:2) But I should never be guilty of doing things for the Lord just because some one else does.

A word of caution is in order. We may decide that some brother, who has more luxuries of life than we, is guilty of emulations. Though possessing many things, which we might call luxuries, he may be able to afford them, and therefore has a perfect right to them. I do not write this to sit in judgment of any one. But that all may examine themselves and judge as to whether they may be practicing emulations.

Also, common sense MUST be used in this matter. One might falsely conclude that he should sell his house and furniture. He COULD live in a tent and sit on nail-kegs and cook over a camp-fire. Remember, as pointed out before, one should do the very best he can in both service and providing. When one provides the best he can for his family, they should manage on what they have. When one serves the best he can, God will be pleased.