Let’s get personal for a little while today. How do you think people who know you feel about your faith? If we were somehow able to get people to look right past us to see Jesus, it would be obvious that faith is real and that people need to come to him for life. Jesus’ words were powerful because his actions and daily life matched his words completely. John called Jesus “The Word” and said the “Word became flesh and dwelt among us and we beheld his glory, the glory of the only son of the Father, full of grace and truth.” So, Jesus was really preaching the gospel even when he wasn’t saying a word. His life was a message from God. When he reached out to touch the leper, to drink from the Samaritan woman’s bucket, to hold the little children and to lay his hand on the casket to bring a young man back to life, or when he blessed the woman who was unclean from bleeding but made her way through the crowd to touch his garment, he preached the love of God powerfully.
So, what are we preaching when we aren’t talking? More than that what does our life say about what our words may be saying? In Titus 2 Paul went down the list of people to tell everyone they had an important work to fulfill in the work of Christ. He spoke to the older women, the younger women, the older men and younger men; he then spoke to Titus as the evangelist about his life. Finally, in verses 9-10 he spoke to slaves. “Teach slaves to be subject to their masters in everything, to try to please them, not to talk back to them, and not to steal from them, but to show that they can be fully trusted, so that in every way they will make the teaching about God our Savior attractive.” Slaves were at the very bottom of those who were influential in the world. I don’t think Paul was promoting slavery or saying it was right. He recognized the situation as it was and knew that many who were converted to Christ were slaves. He wanted them to know that no matter how unimportant they might feel in the world, their lives mattered deeply to God and their influence mattered deeply to the cause of Christ.
The Old King James Version translated this phrase to “Adorn the doctrine of God.” To adorn is to arrange a thing in proper order so as to look it’s best. So Paul’s plea is that the slaves are to be taught that they by being honest, hard workers who could be depended on would make the teachings of God more attractive to the world.
We sometimes see the signs today that declare, “Black lives matter.” Certainly they do, as well as all other lives. No matter who we are or what race, sex or background our lives matter. No matter how young or old, whether born or still in the womb, all lives matter. Whether we are in our middle years of life or old and feeble, our lives still matter. To count anyone as disposable is to abuse one made in the very image and likeness of God Almighty. But let me explain that as a Christian our lives matter because the way we live each day in the world is either making the teachings of God more attractive or they are dulling, if not making the teaching just plain ugly.
When we think of the ISIS fighters today in Syria, Iraq and parts of Africa, they are making the teachings of Islam seem ugly and unattractive with every car bomb or every attack on someone who doesn’t agree with them. But when we meet a Muslim that is kind, considerate and helpful, they make that same teaching seem attractive. Your life matters to the cause of Jesus Christ. How you conduct yourself in school, in Starbucks, in the grocery store or Wal-Mart or on the children’s playground is either making the teachings of Christ more attractive or less so, every day? People who know you and your faith are making judgments about the things you believe to be true based on what they observe in your life every day. You may think, “I don’t want them to do that.” Regardless of what we want, it is what happens all the time. It is the way you make judgments of other people’s faith so why wouldn’t we realize they do the same to us.
So, the message is, “YOUR LIFE MATTERS.” Live today in a way that makes your faith attractive and draws those who know you best, closer to God all the time. Be a magnet for Christ today.
Leon Barnes, see Leon’s blog at “leoninlittlerock.com”
Do you ever have those feelings that every time I try to do something that is really good and would in the long run bless my life I seem to fail? In one of those very personal times in Paul’s writing, in Romans 7 he describes this feeling of futility. ”I do not understand what I do. For what I want to do I do not do, but what I hate I do. And if I do what I do not want to do, I agree that the law is good. As it is, it is no longer I myself who do it, but it is sin living in me. For I Know that good itself does not dwell in me, that is in my sinful nature. For I have the desire to do what is good, but I cannot carry it out. For I do not do the good I want to do, but the evil I do not want to do – this I keep on doing.”
Think of all the times in your life you determined to change some habit you had developed that you knew was not good for you. It may have been when the doctor said; “You must quit smoking if you want to live long.” One friend said he had no problem quitting smoking; he had quit a thousand times already. It was the staying quit that was the challenge. What about the number of diet’s you’ve started but never completed? Perhaps it is a much more positive thing, that we make up our mind we will spend at least 30 minutes a day reading our Bible and praying. Perhaps we even purchase one of those devotional books or the one-year Bible to help us read through the whole Bible. But 200 days in the challenge becomes much more difficult to stay with. What happens when something comes up that causes you to miss a day or two? Do you catch up or start again where you were or do you give up?
Why is it so hard to do right on a consistent basis? The gospel of Jesus Christ isn’t simply about our reforming our life so that we become a better person in the world. The truth is there are all kinds of things that may lead to a person reforming their life that has nothing to do with God. I’ve seen tons of people reform their life because they were attracted to a lady that demanded a better life. Surely, you’ve known someone who was considering running for some political office and reformed their life to be able to get a few more votes. But there is not any way I can reform my life enough to suddenly be pleasing to God and for him to say to me, “You are doing so well, you deserve to go to heaven.”
The good news of the gospel is that even though we have all failed God continually through sin and continue to do so all along, God loves us and willingly had Jesus to come into this world as one of us, to suffer our temptations and to live a holy, righteous and godly life as a man, then to die for our sins so we can be forgiven of all sins and live a new life in him. We are saved by God’s overwhelming love and grace toward us that not only offers us salvation from sin, but a changed life, a new person and the gift of the Holy Spirit of God to dwell within us and help us live the life God calls us to live. On our own, by our own power, even after being forgiven, we will fall right back into sinful behavior. It is when we are saved and commit our lives to Christ as the Lord of our lives; with the help of the Holy Spirit that we walk with God and change our whole lives.
There is an amazing contrast between Romans 7 and Romans 8. In Romans 8 as he described our life in Christ and the help of the Spirit that leads us we live a triumphant life for God. We have hope in him. We have both Christ and the Holy Spirit to intercede for us with the Father. We can trust that God causes all things to work together for good to those who love him and are called according to his purpose. In this situation all kinds of trials may come on us but we are more than conquerors through him who loved us and gave himself up for us. Nothing in life or beyond can separate us from the love of Christ.
On my own power and goodness, I totally fail. All of my righteousness is as filthy rags before God. Saved by grace through faith and led by the Spirit of God, I can walk with Christ and grow closer to him every day. The real question is will I trust my own power or will I trust in the power that is so far beyond anything I can do on my own?
Leon Barnes, see Leon’s blog at “leoninlittlerock.com”