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Principles Related to Being Good Examples

17 Jan

Being a godly example is not an option, it is commanded in Scripture.  We have no choice in being an example of some kind and having an impact on those around us, but we do have a choice in the kind of witness and impact we provide.

Someone is going to follow us and be influenced by us. The questions are: Do we know where we are going? Are we providing the kind of example that will enhance their lives, or are we like the blind leading the blind?

The Perfect Example“I once saw a bumper sticker that said, “don’t follow me, I’m lost too.”  That’s the state of the world and, unfortunately, of many well-meaning Christians. They are like the commercial pilot who told his passengers, “I have some good news and some bad news. The bad news is we are lost, but the good news is we are making good time.”

Motion in itself does not mean direction. Activity in itself never means effectiveness. We need quality lives with quality motion aimed in the right direction with specific, biblical objectives.

We need Christian maturity that provides people with real honest-to-God examples of authentic Christ-like living. Effective ministry to others is often equated with such things as dynamic per­sonali­ties, with talent, giftedness, training, enthusiasm, and with charisma. But these things alone are inadequate. Much more is needed.

In the Bible, the qualities that lead to effective ministry are found in the elements of spiritual character, in the character of Christ reproduced in us by the ministry of the Spirit (see Eph. 4:12f.; Gal. 5:22ff). Look at the disciples. How would you like to launch a worldwide campaign with the likes of Peter and his comrades? Yet, with these common, average, uneducated men, the Lord launched a campaign that has spanned the globe and turned the world upside down.

Was this because of their unique and imaginative methodology? No! It was because these common men knew the Lord and began to experience His life and His qualities of godliness. He took common men and made them into great men who became spiritual leaders because they were experiencing Him through the power of the Spirit of God.

Mature Christians and leaders have a responsibility to maintain a consistent example. This is a constant theme of the Bible. Other than the raw power of the Word itself, nothing is so determinative for spiritual change in the lives of others as one’s own example.

To be a disciple of Christ requires that we are disciplined in our life of faith, which comes alive and becomes faithful in love. It means we exercise self-control, engaging only in activities that enhance our walk with the Lord, while at the same time resisting the demon of busyness and finding a healthy balance between the “doing and being sides” of our lives.

Reuben Job wrote: “Consider it a gift when you keenly feel the tension between doing and being. It is a positive sign of your awareness of God’s call, a sign of your maturity in Christ, and one of the places where every Christian must experience significant growth and renewal.”

It is God’s priority that we understand our “being,” for it is there that we discover him more intimately! Being in Christ requires that my soul first listens to His still, small voice our of my love and obedience to His Word, His Lordship, His reveled truth and His will for my life.

(Matthew 22:34-40)  “Hearing that Jesus had silenced the Sadducees, the Pharisees got together. {35} One of them, an expert in the law, tested him with this question: {36} “Teacher, which is the greatest commandment in the Law?” {37} Jesus replied: “‘Love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind.’ {38} This is the first and greatest commandment. {39} And the second is like it: ‘Love your neighbor as yourself.’ {40} All the Law and the Prophets hang on these two commandments.””

(Luke 10:38-42)  “As Jesus and his disciples were on their way, he came to a village where a woman named Martha opened her home to him. {39} She had a sister called Mary, who sat at the Lord’s feet listening to what he said. {40} But Martha was distracted by all the preparations that had to be made. She came to him and asked, “Lord, don’t you care that my sister has left me to do the work by myself? Tell her to help me!” {41} “Martha, Martha,” the Lord answered, “you are worried and upset about many things, {42} but only one thing is needed. Mary has chosen what is better, and it will not be taken away from her.””

The Latin root for the word “obedience” means “to listen.” Only after we have first taken time to listen for God’s Word will we be able to fully respond to His love and Word in obedience.

Dallas Willard said: “There is nothing that requires more energy for the typical American Christian than the discipline of doing nothing. The hardest thing you can get anyone to do is to do [and say] nothing. We are addicted to our world, addicted to talk…The goal of Christian spirituality is conformity to Christ—not togetherness or meditation or acceptance. The issue is discipleship. Discipleship is learning from Jesus Christ how to live my life as He would live it if He were me.”

Henri Nouwen: “We do not take the spiritual life seriously if we do not set aside some time to be with God and listen to him…The amount of time will vary for each person according to temperament, age, job, lifestyle, and maturity…The more we train ourselves to spend time with God and him alone, the more we will discover that God is with us at all times and in all places. Then we will be able to recognize him even in the midst of a busy and active life…The discipline of solitude enables us to live active lives in the world, while remaining always in the presence of the living God.”

When the prophet Elijah, zealous for the Lord, was sent to the mountain to wait for God to pass by (1 Kings 19:9-13), was God in a powerful wind? In an earthquake? A fire? No! Surprisingly, the Lord made his presence known through a gently whisper.

So often we come to God and want to be “zapped,” tingling with His presence, when all the while he wants us to rest in him, be comforted by his love for us, and listen carefully for his gently whispers.

Beyond our busyness and our lack of communication with God, what are some of the other distractions we face? The occupations and pre- occupations that get us off course from the direction we should be heading as Christ-followers?

The lure of the evil one. Satan’s activity level is heightened when he thinks we are vulnerable to his attacks and his cunning nature. We need to be fully aware of his sly movements that seek to destroy and devour God’s people.

Messed-up priorities. Too often, we are not wise in the use of our time and energies, and the tyranny of the urgent far outweighs what’s truly important. It may be time to reassess your priorities and realign your schedule so you can spend time developing your heart for God and his Word.

Our desire to climb the ladder of success. When our hearts and minds are fixated on adding wealth to our portfolios, we are distracted from spiritual formation and pulled away from a sacrificial lifestyle of love and generosity. The needs of others tend to wait until it’s more convenient for us to give. But Jesus calls us to a life of sacrifice, service, and surrender.

We hunger and thirst for things that don’t feed our souls. A carryover to the success syndrome is the accumulation of things and experiences that thrill us, often to the neglect of the spiritual life. We have computers, laptops, handheld gadgets, boats, ski-boats, golf sets, summer homes, winter homes, fancy cars, expensive vacations, and a ton of other “stuff’ that gets accumulated over the years. The more we have, the more we want; all the while our excitement for being alone with God and his  Word wanes. I am convinced that the judgment on our generation will be focused on the almighty dollar and how we spent it so luxuriously on ourselves, often to the neglect of the poor and needy.

Skepticism. In many respects, we don’t take seriously the role of the Keeper of our soul, mostly because we are skeptical if he’s really necessary. We are an independent people who like to make it on our own. This works for a while, but eventually our attitudes and speech reveal the state of our souls. If we fully believe in the fruit of ongoing spiritual disciplines, though, our skepticism will be reversed and heartfelt commitment will return.

A lack of models. We are human “doings” much more than human “beings,” so creating a quiet center is generally more difficult. But we need to be modeling for each other what a healthy spiritual life looks like. I long to see the day when local church leaders hold one another accountable for their personal spiritual life and see this role as more significant than the work they are called to accomplish together.

We are more self-reliant than God-dependent. We are very confident in our own abilities, so we don’t depend on God for our day-to-day needs. In crisis moments we cry out for mercy and strength because of our desperate need. But in the mundane aspects of our life in him, we tend to walk the walk how we see fit.

We are far more reactive than proactive. Instead of reacting to the issues of life all around us, we need to proactively choose to step off our treadmills and find a place and time to be alone with God. It takes focused! discipline, but it’s absolutely essential.

We have lost our first love. This is the most difficult possibility to raise and sometimes the most difficult to discern if it’s true. If you sense that you are falling out of love with God, remember that He is still faithful. He has always been by your side, available and aware of your heart cries. He has always longed for your love and is waiting with open arms to receive you once again.

If you are a prodigal child and need to return home, he will be there to greet you. Don’t let your feelings of love lost  for God hinder your return to him today.

 
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Posted by on January 17, 2019 in Encouragement

 

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