Lesson 7 -- second quarter 2004
April 18, 2004
© Copyright 2004, Christian Light Publications
The Christian life encompasses so much more than doctrine, as vital as that is to each of us. The Christian life involves way more than what happens within our hearts and within our meeting houses. As elementary as this sounds, the Christian life includes how the Christian lives. How do you live? What have you learned about putting the Christian faith into practice? People around us need both to hear and to see how one goes about loving his neighbor . . . and his enemy . . . as himself. They need practical, imitable examples of holiness, joyfulness, and peace. The Christians in Thessalonica were normal humans, yet they allowed the grace of God to work in them to such an extent that God and Paul praised them as "ensamples to all that believe in Macedonia and Achaia" (1 Thessalonians 1:7).
In 1 Timothy 4:12 we find this same idea expressed, though with a slightly different flavor: "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity" (1 Timothy 4:12). God wants you as one of the free samples He gives the unbeliever. In other words, when He needs to show someone what believers are like, He wants to be able to use you as a model! Not only that, God wants you as a free sample to the church, where we all need and benefit from practical models of faithfulness, separation, nonconformity, peace, and contentment.
"Whoa! Wait a minute!" you might exclaim in the privacy of your mind. "That's putting quite a load on me. This example stuff is for those who are older and more mature than I. I'm the one that needs the example." Well, that may be true enough, but that doesn't change the reality that we are all examples of some sort. We are well-advised to choose to be good examples of good things.
Abiding by the rules and attending all services are two good, obvious ways of being faithful in a church setting. Helping needy members and showing up for church work days are some additional ways to show a good example. How about praying for the members, shunning gossip and complaints, and giving and accepting reproof -- do they qualify as expressions of church member faithfulness in exemplary living? I would say so . . . and they all result from choices we make.
My challenge for us here is that we allow God to continue His work in our lives, developing in us the character quality of faithfulness. When we have the opportunity to be unfaithful, let's choose faithfulness instead! When we have the occasion to demonstrate a bad example, let's choose instead to reveal a godly example. May our faithfulness be a demonstration of God's own faithfulness.
The church is overloaded with downcast, discouraged people who infect others with their misery. Refuse to be one of those! Encourage yourself in the Lord, then go -- encourage and build up those around you. "Wherefore comfort yourselves together, and edify one another, even as also ye do" (1 Thessalonians 5:11). Paul knew (3:7-10)!
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