There is so much information thrown at us every day. So much of it is passed off as knowledge whether or not it can be proven as truth. Much of the time this ‘knowledge’ directly or indirectly contradicts God’s word. Some of it has even penetrated the beliefs and teachings of churches. Godless chatter abounds, bombarding us from every side and permeating every aspect of our lives. It is quickly coming to the point again where everything is tolerated and accepted with the exception of Christ. Every belief, theory, and feeling is deserving of being heard and given a place as long as it is not God’s truth. As believers, we need to avoid these foolish, godless discussions. We need to ensure that we know the truth by getting it daily straight from the source- the Bible. God has trusted us with the truth. We must guard it like a treasure placed in our hands by our King for safekeeping. As His subjects we must guard everything He has entrusted us with; the truth, our children, our finances, our destinies. It is a huge responsibility and not to be taken lightly!
We should serve those who have been placed over us with respect and diligence for two reasons: One, so that God’s name and the Bible’s teachings are not drug through the mud, and Two, if they are believers then we do so because they should to be dear to us. We are of the same body, all one in Christ, all serving the same ultimate goal. They have been created, loved, and chosen by our Savior for His purposes. It should be our desire to be a blessing and not a hinderance to them. Let us never take advantage of a boss or authority in any way because they are fellow believers. In the next life there will be no slave and master, no boss and employee, but in this life God has placed them in authority over our lives and He has done so for a reason. Treat them with respect, let God’s purpose for their lives be advanced through our service to them.
It’s not always so easy to determine the character of a person. Some can hide their vices from everyone around them, only putting forward their best self in the church or in public. That is why Paul warns us not to be hasty in appointing leaders. Conversely, it is often easy for us to see and determine other peoples sins, to judge them for them. But we are all guilty of sin and we must not pretend that we are good just because our sin may not be as ‘bad’ or as blatant as someone else’s. We should regularly ask God to reveal any sin hidden in our own hearts, even from ourselves. We must acknowledge it and repent of it so that it does not drag behind us like a weight slowing down our ability to run the race God has set before us.
“Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a huge crowd of witnesses to the life of faith, let us strip off every weight that slows us down, especially the sin that so easily trips us up. And let us run with endurance the race God has set before us.”
Hebrews 12:1 NLT
What is your gift? Have you discovered it yet? If not, that is step one. Do it quickly! If so, how are you incorporating it into your daily life? Are you committing yourself completely and making noticeable progress? Throw yourself into the tasks God has called and gifted you to preform, just don’t forget to keep checking your compass (God’s Word) to ensure you are staying on track, true to what is right!
“The lifeblood of integrity is becoming the same person no matter where we are- no matter who’s around.”
If we wish to be respected, this verse quickly sums up several qualities that make people worthy of the respect of others: having integrity & not being a heavy drinker and not being dishonest with money. Sounds pretty simple but the application can be a little trickier. Sometimes it can be hard to be the same person regardless of who is around, sometimes it is easy to come in late, leave early, or watch videos at work thereby taking our boss’ money for time we did’t actually give him. Nevertheless, if we want to be respected, to be seen as different and point to Christ, these are a few things we should strive toward. 1 Thessalonians adds minding our own business and working with our hands. 1 Peter says to show proper respect to everyone. Show respect to get respect- sounds fair. Everyone deserves a measure of respect from all men simply because every human being bears the image of God but that only buys them that basic level of respect owing them basic human rights and kindness. Anything more than that must be earned through our character and behavior.
“Do everything you can to live a quiet life. Mind your own business. Work with your hands, just as we told you to. Then unbelievers will have respect for your everyday life. And you won’t have to depend on anyone.”
1 Thessalonians 4:11-12 NIRV
“Show proper respect to everyone. Love the community of believers. Have respect for God. Honor the king.”
1 Peter 2:17 NIRV
“So God created man in his own likeness. He created him in the likeness of God. He created them as male and female.”
Genesis 1:27 NIRV
Each and every one of us has a God-given purpose as well as ‘tasks’ presented to each of us as individuals. These ‘tasks’ are meant both to better you and to give evidence of your life following Christ. They may be as many different things as there are people since God works with each of us through our own personal lives and our own demons, but include tasks such as diligently raising up our children to be godly and respectful, dedicating ourselves more diligently to time in prayer and the word, working with God to clean up a particular sin in our lives/hearts. If we cannot get a handle on these tasks, work toward them, and show improvement, if we give them up because it is too difficult or tedious, then how can we expect to be able to take bigger steps forward into our purpose or accept more responsible roles within the church or the kingdom? We can’t. It would overwhelm us rather than bless us and be a hinderance to ourselves and to those we are supposed to help. We must be diligent with the little things if we are to be trusted with the bigger ones.
“‘For to everyone who has, more will be given, and he will have abundance;”
““If you are faithful in little things, you will be faithful in large ones. But if you are dishonest in little things, you won’t be honest with greater responsibilities.”
Prayer is an important part of worship. It is a relationship builder between us and God. We become closer and more intimate as we talk with Him, share our worries and our joys, seek His wisdom and guidance, and praise Him. Prayer can also help build our relationships with other people because when we persistently intercede for them and thank God for them it helps to build a bridge between us that God’s love flows across, from us to them. You will begin to feel that love over time even if you don’t particularly know or like the person at the start. People in authority are specifically listed in this scripture as ones who need our prayer- presidents, government officials, police officers, bosses, parents, teachers- all of us have numerous people who have some form of authority over us. They carry heavy burdens and, regardless of their beliefs or actions, they need our prayers. We are promised a blessing for doing so, peaceful and quiet lives marked by godliness and dignity. It pleases God and blesses us, what more encouragement do we need!
Faith is imperative. “Without faith it is impossible to please God”, “according to your faith it will be done”, etc.. We are purified (Acts 15:9) and sanctified (Acts 26:18) by faith. Romans 10:17 tells us that faith comes through hearing the message, or the word of Christ. However, it does not come all at once, rushing through us ant taking with it any and every doubt we’ve ever had. It takes continual building and acting upon (“Faith without works is dead”). We must hold on to it, like a life line, constantly check our actions and conscience against God’s word and make sure they line up. We cannot simply trust our conscience, believe that as long as it is clear then we are good, because our conscience can become seared (1 Timothy 4:2) and lose all sensitivity (Eph. 4:19). Our conscience must be both solidly grounded in the word and clear, our actions must work in accordance with the message that was given to us also. If we relax our grip on this grounding in the Word and begin to let the world sear our conscience bit by bit into believing anything goes so long as it makes you happy, then we will wreck our faith and our righteousness before God along with it (Romans 9:30 & Galatians 3:6).
“And it is impossible to please God without faith. Anyone who wants to come to him must believe that God exists and that he rewards those who sincerely seek him.”
“Then He touched their eyes, saying, “It shall be done to you according to your faith.””
“and made no distinction between us and them, purifying their hearts by faith.”
“to open their eyes so that they turn from darkness to light and from the power of Satan to God, so that they may receive forgiveness of sins and a share among those who are sanctified by faith in me.’”
“So faith comes from hearing, and hearing by the word of Christ.”
“Teachings like those come from liars who pretend to be what they are not. Their sense of what is right and wrong has been burned as if with a hot iron.”
1 Timothy 4:2
“and they, having become callous, have given themselves over to sensuality for the practice of every kind of impurity with greediness.”
“What should we say then? Those who aren’t Jews did not look for a way to be right with God. But they found it by having faith.”
“Think about Abraham. Scripture says, “Abraham believed God. God accepted Abraham because he believed. So his faith made him right with God.” (Genesis 15:6)”
We, as people, often get dragged off the main road and out into the weeds- metaphorically speaking. People within the body of Christ are subject to the same tendencies. We could get lost in the studies and discussions of religious practices, histories, and the possibilities of the future. These things, while interesting, are smoke and mirrors that distract us from the basic, life giving truth that is the basis of our faith- love for God and one another. People who devote themselves to the other things may indeed have wonderful intentions, they may even be confident in the belief that they are right, but when it comes down to it neither of those things matter if they are neglecting the most important commands and either drawing others into the weeds with them or driving them away from faith and God completely because they come across too strongly as fanatics. If we are not very careful we can ourselves turn away from our purpose to spend our time in meaningless discussions over things that have nothing whatsoever to do with salvation or righteousness. If we keep our focus on learning and applying the things that have eternal significance then I imagine we won’t have much time to devote to the rest!
*Just for clarification, I do not understand this to say that the pursuit of knowledge is inherently bad. I love learning and believe that much of what people have discovered is both fascinating and helpful in understanding some of what we read in the Bible. But it has a place and that place is far beneath that of worshiping God and sharing His love with others through our words and actions. We cannot let the pursuit of knowledge, even religious knowledge, usurp the throne of God in our hearts. All of the knowledge in the world is useless if it has no application.
“History merely repeats itself. It has all been done before. Nothing under the sun is truly new.”
Ecclesiastes 1:9 NLT
Even in the very beginning of the church there were people who adapted their behaviors and beliefs to the world around them in order to make things easier on themselves, not cause any tension, avoid making themselves a target for persecution or ostracization. But we are not called to be friends with this world, if we look and behave like everyone else around us then what will cause people to wander at what makes us different. What will make them look for the reason we have peace and love despite our circumstances. They should notice these things when they look at us. We should not compromise those differences in order to avoid suffering. Suffering for Christ, as he suffered for us, should not only be expected if you are walking the right road, but it should be considered an honor. Besides, at least here in the United States, the persecution we might face is hardly worth sacrificing God’s grace to avoid. It’s not worth the trade off!