Ministers Must be Mild

February 27, 2017 at 3:34 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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In I Corinthians 4 the Holy Spirit used the Apostle Paul to teach that Christian ministers must be managers. Paul went on, through the literary device of holy sarcasm, to show that ministers must also be meek. Then he got literal again.

I write not these things to shame you, but as my beloved sons I warn you. For though ye have ten thousand instructers in Christ, yet have ye not many fathers: for in Christ Jesus I have begotten you through the gospel.

I Corinthians 4:14-15

It is as if Paul was saying, “Despite my harsh and mocking tone in the previous thoughts, I do – I really do – have a special love for you. And you, of all people, should know that I’m not out to shame you, trick you, or lead you astray.”

Wherefore I beseech you, be ye followers of me.

I Corinthians 4:16

How would such a statement be received today? We are used to Christian leaders (at least orthodox Christian leaders!) emphasizing that only Christ Himself should be our role model, and that men, no matter how blameless or holy they may appear, are unworthy of imitation. However, what Paul says here (being infallible Scripture) is sound. Christian ministers do need to be striving to be able to say this honestly, first of all to our kids, and, for those of us called to servant leadership in a local church body, as leaders in our churches: “Follow me – as I follow Christ.”

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

I Corinthians 4:17

Timothy was not Paul’s biological son, but his “spiritual son,” probably having been brought to Christ and personally discipled by him. Paul made a point of saying that Timothy had been “faithful in the Lord,” carrying on the theme of the primacy of faithfulness in ministry. Timothy would remind the Corinthian Christians that Paul was in Christ, and that, as such, he could be and should be followed. The Holy Spirit could inspire Paul to appeal to his own consistency without fear of contradiction.

Now some are puffed up, as though I would not come to you.

I Corinthians 4:18

This was a very pointed accusation – threatening even – as if Paul was saying, “You talk big when I am not around, but I’m coming to face you in person.”

But I will come to you shortly, if the Lord will, and will know, not the speech of them which are puffed up, but the power.

I Corinthians 4:19

He alludes to God’s sovereignty (“if the Lord will“), and makes it clear that the Knows should be able to recognize the Know-Nots, as he proposes a showdown, almost Elijah-style, for any who would question the Lord’s power upon him.

For the kingdom of God is not in word, but in power.

I Corinthians 4:20

This means not in word ONLY, and, more specifically, not in professions only, but in the power of transforming Truth.

What will ye? shall I come unto you with a rod, or in love, and in the spirit of meekness?

I Corinthians 4:21

This is the practical equivalent of a dad warning rowdy children in the backseat of the car on a long trip, “Don’t make me come back there. I will pull this car over. I can get everyone an Icee or ice packs. Pucker or duck. Hugging or mugging.”

Ministers Must be Meek

January 9, 2017 at 3:00 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 8 Comments
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Previously we learned that ministers must be managers.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:1-2

The word for “ministers” in 4:1 is hyperetes – the under-rowers on a Roman trireme – the lowliest of the low. They are workers who exist only to serve. While it is true that the Apostles were ministers who revealed the mysteries of God, they did not see themselves as overseers rationing out food so that no one gets too much or too little. They saw themselves as slaves driven to reach the destination of greater knowledge and greater intimate relationship with Christ.

And these things, brethren, I have in a figure transferred to myself and to Apollos for your sakes; that ye might learn in us not to think of men above that which is written, that no one of you be puffed up for one against another.

I Corinthians 4:6

There were other factions causing division in the church at Corinth, but Paul used himself and Apollos to set an example of humility. Just as the puffiness of pride will destroy a marriage, so it will also destroy a church family. Puffiness is emptiness masquerading as fullness, and it is a symptom of pride. The Holy Spirit here does a better job deflating egos than Tom Brady does deflating footballs.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I Corinthians 4:7

Who made me different from anyone else? God did. What do I have that I did not receive? Nothing. Why am I proud of it if it was purely a gift? Because I forgot I am a Know, and not a Know-Not, and I thought I could steal a little of God’s glory for myself (or at least distribute some of it to somebody I really admire).

fooled-again

The Holy Spirit inspired Paul to engage in some biting sarcasm.

Now ye are full, now ye are rich, ye have reigned as kings without us: and I would to God ye did reign, that we also might reign with you.

I Corinthians 4:8

The “us” he referred to was the Apostles. He was suggesting to the Corinthians that, since they seemed to believe they had outgrown their teachers, perhaps they could teach the Apostles. After all, Paul and the Apostles were just out on their mission field, in the world, fighting to the death for Jesus, that’s all.

For I think that God hath set forth us the apostles last, as it were appointed to death: for we are made a spectacle unto the world, and to angels, and to men.

I Corinthians 4:9

The “spectacle” was the last part of a gladiator show, when only the too-drunk-to-leave or the really poor or the most-depraved stuck around to see slaves and criminals fed to beasts. The main events were “contests” – these were just spectacles.

We are fools for Christ’s sake, but ye are wise in Christ; we are weak, but ye are strong; ye are honourable, but we are despised. Even unto this present hour we both hunger, and thirst, and are naked, and are buffeted, and have no certain dwellingplace; And labour, working with our own hands: being reviled, we bless; being persecuted, we suffer it: Being defamed, we intreat: we are made as the filth of the world, and are the offscouring of all things unto this day.

I Corinthians  4:10-13

It’s as if Paul was saying, “We’re just out here putting on a show, being humiliated, laughed at as we suffer, but you’ve got this whole Christianity thing really figured out. It’s really about sitting around trying to show off whose teacher has the most knowledge, and trying to brag about how smart you are.” He was being honest about his own hardships, persecution, and suffering, but he was also driving home the point that meekness is of the utmost importance in managing the knowledge and gifts given by God for the purpose of Christian ministry.

Next time we will see that ministers must be mild.

Ministers Must be Managers

December 22, 2016 at 1:17 pm | Posted in I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Christian ministers must be managers.

Let a man so account of us, as of the ministers of Christ, and stewards of the mysteries of God. Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:1-2

Managers must be faithful. Faithfulness trumps:

1. Appearance
2. Common Sense
3. Style
4. Willingness
and even
5. Ability

Managers must please the owner – even when it makes them unpopular.

But with me it is a very small thing that I should be judged of you, or of man’s judgment: yea, I judge not mine own self.

I Corinthians 4:3

Managers must be prepared to receive criticism from those under their authority, but a manager must also be answerable to (and judged by) the owner.

For I know nothing by myself; yet am I not hereby justified: but he that judgeth me is the Lord.

I Corinthians 4:4

In the church at Corinth there was no shortage of judging going on, and judgment in itself is not a bad thing, but it was wrong judgment.

Therefore judge nothing before the time, until the Lord come, who both will bring to light the hidden things of darkness, and will make manifest the counsels of the hearts: and then shall every man have praise of God.

I Corinthians 4:5

The timing was wrong; they were judging before the time. The motive was wrong; they were judging the hidden counsels of the hearts. The standard was wrong; they were seeking the praise of men rather than the praise of God.

Next time we will see that ministers must be meek.

Pride Is Everywhere

July 2, 2014 at 12:56 pm | Posted in I Corinthians, Social Media Shares and Mass Emails | 21 Comments
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Pride is ubiquitous in a fallen world inhabited by fallen people. The Bible compares pride to leaven because leaven has a way of secretly working its way into a lump of dough, and affecting the whole thing.

Your glorying is not good. Know ye not that a little leaven leaveneth the whole lump? Purge out therefore the old leaven, that ye may be a new lump, as ye are unleavened. For even Christ our passover is sacrificed for us:

I Corinthians 5:6-7

“Glorying” is another word for bragging. Could there be a simpler way to state it? Bragging is not good. Why not? Well, there are a variety of reasons, but, obviously, because God – our Maker and eternal Judge, the Author of life and truth – says it’s not good!

But bragging is what proud people are compelled to do. This phenomenon is especially prevalent on social media outlets such as Facebook. There is a certain (imagined) level of comfortable anonymity that comes from sitting in front of a keyboard or cell phone screen, which we would not necessarily feel standing face to face with an audience. This gives people the boldness to let everyone know just how pleased with ourselves we are, while at the same time giving us a chance to carefully craft our words before hitting “send” or “post” so that we don’t (at least we think we don’t) sound too obnoxious.

So, you get ridiculous statements like these:

“Y’all, I’m the most nonjudgmental person I know!” This statement mixes boasting with hypocrisy. How can you be the “most nonjudgmental” when you’ve just judged everyone else you know as being more judgmental than you?

“I’m one of the most humble people you’ll ever meet.” Really? Because you just bragged about your humility in front of everyone.

“I can honestly say that I don’t care what anyone thinks about me!” Except for everyone who reads this, right?

Then, there is the whole “role-reversal” of pride, where we have somehow redefined it to be a good thing. So we get folks who are proud of their country, proud of their kids, proud of the U.S. Soccer team, proud of their family or last name. And then we get upset when the blatant God-haters have a “Gay Pride” parade. At least they’re being honest about how their sins are related!

If you claim to be a Christian, try to think like a Christian for a minute. Christians are supposed to think Biblically, remember? God does not just frown upon pride or categorize it as “less than the best.” He actively hates it.

The fear of the Lord is to hate evil: pride, and arrogancy, and the evil way, and the froward mouth, do I hate.

Proverbs 8:13

A man’s pride shall bring him low: but honour shall uphold the humble in spirit.

Proverbs 29:23

These six things doth the Lord hate: yea, seven are an abomination unto him: A proud look, a lying tongue…

Proverbs 6:16-17

Ever since Adam and Eve sinned in the Garden of Eden there has been something in our human hearts that wants to take credit away from God in order to give it to ourselves. We invent ways to glorify ourselves, and we disguise our boasting with cunning words, or we just say what we have heard, and we think it’s okay because it’s what everyone else says. God hates this, and we will give an account for idle words one day. The solution is to remember the truth that we have nothing at all to brag about it, if we really think about it.

For who maketh thee to differ from another? and what hast thou that thou didst not receive? now if thou didst receive it, why dost thou glory, as if thou hadst not received it?

I Corinthians 4:7

Let’s slaughter our pride on the altar of God’s glory, and stop speaking like fools.

More Strange Weapons: A Bone (Simple, Silly, Serious, and Successful)

July 20, 2011 at 1:00 pm | Posted in II Corinthians, Strange Weapons | 5 Comments
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The jawbone of the donkey that Samson used to slay 1000 Philistines was not only a strange weapon – as we saw in the last lesson:

1. It was a singular weapon.
2. It was a surprising weapon.

Now we will see that:

3. It was a simple weapon.

In other words, it was an unsophisticated weapon. I for one am glad that the weapons of our spiritual warfare in New Testament Christianity are not overly complex or difficult to use. In fact, God sometimes blesses the crudest means when there is both faith and zeal in the one who wields the weapon. Samson had many faults and flaws, but he had two big advantages when it came to fighting: faith and zeal. The jawbone that he picked up must have looked pretty weak to the Philistines who were ready to attack him, and to the men of Judah who were standing by watching. But in our moments of simplicity and seeming-weakness God often shows Himself strong.

For our rejoicing is this, the testimony of our conscience, that in simplicity and godly sincerity, not with fleshly wisdom, but by the grace of God, we have had our conversation in the world, and more abundantly to you-ward.

II Corinthians 1:12 (emphasis added)

Samson’s “conversation” on that day was very simple. In fact, he didn’t have to say a word. He let his weapon “speak” for him, and his weapon said, “This is not of the world – this is of God and by His Spirit.”

I find it humorous and fitting that God arranged it so that Samson used the jawbone of an ass. The jawbone is an instrument of speaking, and previously in the Bible (in the case of Balaam), God had spoken through a living donkey. Here, he “speaks” through a dead donkey! God is certainly not limited in His ability to use the simple to confound the wise.

But I fear, lest by any means, as the serpent beguiled Eve through his subtilty, so your minds should be corrupted from the simplicity that is in Christ.

II Corinthians 11:3 (emphasis added)

There are times in spiritual warfare when the simplest weapon is the best. What could be simpler than a soft word to turn away wrath? What could be simpler than asking a hard-hearted lost person, “What are you going to do about your sin?

In spiritual warfare some of our weapons are strong in the sense that they are built to last. But sometimes God wants us to use a weak weapon because we are more inclined to use it trustfully and obediently. Many of our specific, situational weapons just are what they are. They don’t need to be adorned to be effective. Your physical appearance is a gift from God to be used in spiritual warfare. He designed you to look the way you look partly in order to help you connect with and influence others. Don’t be too quick to change your appearance in order to make yourself more “attractive” according to worldly standards. God has blessed each of us with certain natural talents. Some are better at teaching publicly; some are better at ministering privately. Some have a great memory. Some have the gift of not being easily offended. Natural talents are some of the simplest, and yet most potent, weapons that God has given us.

4. It was both a silly and a serious weapon.

When I say silly, I mean downright absurd when you think about it! Killing 1000 men with a donkey’s jawbone??? Samson must have looked at least a little ridiculous using the mandible of an ass as though it were a sword or a club! He didn’t look silly for long, though – at least not to the Philistines. What seems silly to us was deadly serious to them.

https://i1.wp.com/www.jentronics.com/bible/Plate_096close.jpg

In spiritual warfare our “silliest” weapon may also be our most serious.

For the preaching of the cross is to them that perish foolishness; but unto us which are saved it is the power of God.

I Corinthians 1:18 (emphasis added)

The Gospel message is life and death to those of us who have been regenerated and are willing to wield it for the glory of Christ. But it is foolishness to those who are unregenerate, and who will not receive it – all the way up to the point where they will be slain by their rejection of it. I wonder if our enemy, the devil, can even comprehend how he is defeated over and over again by the simple preaching of the Truth.

But God hath chosen the foolish things of the world to confound the wise; and God hath chosen the weak things of the world to confound the things which are mighty;

I Corinthians 1:27 (emphasis added)

When the Apostles were thrown into prison for preaching the Gospel, did it seem foolish that they would sing songs of praise in their cells? Do your lost friends think it’s idiotic that memorizing verses from an ancient Book could drive away something as mighty as a massive wave of depression? Don’t be afraid of looking silly for the cause of Christ. Humility itself can be a weapon in spiritual warfare. Humility is revealed in circumstances. An embarrassed person is not necessarily a humble person. We can be in a humbling situation, but still think about ourselves. Humility is not deciding to think too little about yourself in contrast to thinking too much about yourself. True humility is not thinking about yourself at all.

5. It was a successful weapon.

Samson’s victory with the jawbone was not his last exploit, nor his greatest. In fact, he wound up killing more Philistines in his death than he did in his life. When Christians today talk about “flowing in the Spirit” it conjures up images of a sort of effeminate passivity where church people are just “letting go and letting God,” focusing on their personal worship experiences and hoping that the Holy Spirit will supernaturally bless them without any effort of their own. We would do well to take a lesson from Samson. He certainly isn’t the ideal Old Testament saint to emulate when it comes to victorious Christ-like living, but you have to give him one thing: In the days in which he judged Israel, nobody flowed in the Spirit like Samson! Samson’s problem wasn’t the ability to receive God’s Spirit. His problem was that he could not be consistent – he could not get his life organized. He could not get himself organized and he had little interest in getting the people he was supposed to be leading organized. The jawbone that he wielded so effectively was what the British call a “one-off.” It is a picture of the type of unpredictable, unexpected, spur-of-the-moment weapon we encounter in our spiritual warfare all the time. We pick them up, and we throw them away, forgetting that they were successful weapons. If you have been a Christian for several years, take a moment to look back over your life at some of your spiritual victories. Was there some type of strange weapon that worked then which might work again now? Occasional, circumstances-specific weapons may seem strange and impractical, but it is God’s power, not the weapon itself, which makes a weapon successful. One time a great preacher told me that when you talk to children, you should get down on one knee and look them in the eye instead of towering over them: that has turned out to be a great spiritual weapon for me over the years. A note or a greeting card sent to someone who is hurting or discouraged can be a weapon. A bouquet of flowers delivered to a hospital room can be a weapon. One of the deadliest weapons in my wife’s arsenal is her smile. Many a time I have seen her turn a friendly smile and an unexpectedly kind word on the scowlingest, most negative person you would ever want to meet, and just absolutely route whatever demon was making that person so mean! A telephone can be a weapon when it is used to call up someone and invite him to Sunday School, or to tell someone you are praying for her.

After Samson killed all those Philistines he made up a song about piling their bodies in heaps upon heaps. When you get discouraged in spiritual warfare, and you think God is not coming through for you, take heart! Are there not heaps and heaps of slain sins in your past? Are there not heaps and heaps of slain temptations? Heaps and heaps of slain doubts? Heaps and heaps of slain fears? Sure, we’ve lost our share of battles, but the battleground is strewn with our enemies and we’re still standing. If no weapon formed against us can prosper, then it stands to reason that any weapon formed for us – to God’s glory – must prosper against our enemies.

Samson ultimately surrendered to the Philistines, and God made him the victor only in his death. God is not asking us to surrender to our enemies – He’s asking us to surrender to our King and Father. One day Jesus is coming back to vanquish all His enemies once and for all. Have you made sure that you will be on the right side when Jesus starts conquering HIS enemies?

Faithful to Him and to Each Other

April 25, 2011 at 10:51 am | Posted in Bible Studies, I Corinthians | 4 Comments
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Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

Christians should be reliable and trustworthy in ministry. Even as others rely on us, we must remember that we, too, rely on Someone ourselves.

II Chronicles 16 tells about Asa, the king who ruled Judah for about 40 years. He was mostly a good king, a Godly king, but near the end of his reign he had trouble remembering on Whom to rely. He entered into a treaty with Benhadad, king of Syria, because he didn’t trust the Lord to give him the victory.

And at that time Hanani the seer came to Asa king of Judah, and said unto him, Because thou hast relied on the king of Syria, and not relied on the LORD thy God, therefore is the host of the king of Syria escaped out of thine hand. Were not the Ethiopians and the Lubims a huge host, with very many chariots and horsemen? yet, because thou didst rely on the LORD, he delivered them into thine hand. For the eyes of the LORD run to and fro throughout the whole earth, to shew himself strong in the behalf of them whose heart is perfect toward him. Herein thou hast done foolishly: therefore from henceforth thou shalt have wars.

II Chronicles 16:7-9

No matter how much success we have with our ministry, and no matter how much we come to trust in the ways we minister and find motivation, we must remember to trust the Lord. We must remember to give Him the credit and the praise. We must remember to be faithful to follow His Word and His doctrine, and not to try to rely on our own personal beliefs.

And hath put all things under his feet, and gave him to be the head over all things to the church,

Ephesians 1:22

Christians are stewards and servants – first and foremost to Christ – but also, in many ways, to those to whom we minister. We need to have a desire to promote spiritual growth – growth in the form of maturity and in the form of closeness in fellowship.

When I Corinthians 4:2 says that faithfulness is required in stewards, it means that, obviously, unfaithfulness is not an option.

He that is faithful in that which is least is faithful also in much: and he that is unjust in the least is unjust also in much.

Luke 16:10

Each person has different talents and abilities, but every Christian has the ability to be faithful.

For not he that commendeth himself is approved, but whom the Lord commendeth.

II Corinthians 10:18

I am glad that we are not responsible for commending ourselves. I’m also glad that the Lord’s acceptance of us is not conditional on the approval of others. What we’re seeking is the commendation of the Lord Himself.

We all are members of a body, and every member is important. For the body to function at full capacity, all the members should be faithfully working.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. I know that sometimes Christians can tend to overemphasize organization. The Body of Christ is more of an organism than an organization, but an unorganized organism would not live very long! Therefore Christians need to work together and get along with each other. We are valuable to each other, and, in a sense, we are even valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

When Jesus received the authority granted to Him after the Resurrection, He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will, but I am “valuable” to Him in the sense that He loves me and that it pleases Him to use me to accomplish His will.

Tips for Teachers

August 18, 2010 at 12:01 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching, II Corinthians | 6 Comments
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Do we begin again to commend ourselves? or need we, as some others, epistles of commendation to you, or letters of commendation from you? Ye are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read of all men: Forasmuch as ye are manifestly declared to be the epistle of Christ ministered by us, written not with ink, but with the Spirit of the living God; not in tables of stone, but in fleshy tables of the heart.

II Corinthians 3:1-3

Christian teachers are to strive for excellence – to be the very best teachers we can be – not necessarily the best there are – but the best we can be. We may not have the most expensive materials or the fanciest facilities. Our students may not have read the lesson. In fact, they are more likely to read the teacher than the lesson. So we must make sure we are good “letters.”

Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11

“Fervent” is more than “not slothful.” We are to prepare our lessons while being mindful that we are serving the Lord. Don’t prepare just for the students – do it for the Lord.

And whatsoever ye do, do it heartily, as to the Lord, and not unto men;

Colossians 3:23

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17

Planning ahead of time makes for smooth-sailing on the day of the lesson. Take some time thinking about and planning your routine.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2

As a teacher, be reliable. This is more than not missing the teaching time. It includes being trustworthy as a person. We want our students to grow in number, in knowledge, in maturity, and in fellowship and closeness.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

The Body of Christ is alive. A living body is an organism, but a disorganized organism will die. Therefore, teachers need to work together with each other and with those in other ministry positions. We need to work together and meet together. Not only are we valuable to each other, but we are valuable to the Lord.

Fear ye not therefore, ye are of more value than many sparrows.

Matthew 10:31

Right after Jesus proclaimed His authority He proceeded to allocate His authority to His disciples. But their enthusiasm must have been somewhat dampened when He told them what this authority meant, and how they were to use it. Our “value” lies in our willingness to serve. God doesn’t “need” me in the sense that He needs my permission to accomplish His will. Teachers have a target on them. We may only influence our students for an hour a week. They may be “taught” by someone else all the rest of the week. That’s going to lead to conflict once in a while between us and their “other teachers.” Just like some parts of the body protect other parts, we need to be loyal to each other. One of the reasons we value each other so much is because we know the Lord values us, and we are under His protection.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

It’s natural to start off life as a child, and it’s natural for a new believer to start off as a child. But teachers, like good parents, not only love their students, but want to see them grow up, too. Proper growth comes about from feeding (the Word), exercise (getting them involved in service), and instruction (the teaching itself.) To encourage others to grow, we need to make sure we’re growing ourselves.

Thou therefore which teachest another, teachest thou not thyself? thou that preachest a man should not steal, dost thou steal?

Romans 2:21

If students outgrow teachers, teachers are going to have trouble teaching them.

S.E.R.V.E. the Lord in Children’s Ministry

June 7, 2010 at 1:34 pm | Posted in Biblical Teaching | 4 Comments
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Not slothful in business; fervent in spirit; serving the Lord;

Romans 12:11, emphasis added

S.erving the Lord: Prepare for each week’s service as though you are serving the Lord – not just for your pastor or leader, or even the kids, but like you are doing it for the Lord.

E.arly: Don’t just be on time – be early! (at least 15 minutes)

I love them that love me; and those that seek me early shall find me.

Proverbs 8:17, emphasis added

R.eliable: Try not to miss your turn to help unless you absolutely have to.

Moreover it is required in stewards, that a man be found faithful.

I Corinthians 4:2, emphasis added

V.aluable: You are a valuable part of your church family and of the team. Make it a priority to come to meetings.

For the body is not one member, but many.

I Corinthians 12:14

E.ncouraging: Encourage the kids all through the week. Call them, send cards, meet their parents, etc.

For God is not unrighteous to forget your work and labour of love, which ye have shewed toward his name, in that ye have ministered to the saints, and do minister.

Hebrews 6:10

S.erving
E.arly
R.eliable
V.aluable
E.ncouraging

The “Ways” to Remember

May 19, 2010 at 9:51 am | Posted in Biblical Remembering, I Corinthians | 12 Comments
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And when he had given thanks, he brake it, and said, Take, eat: this is my body, which is broken for you: this do in remembrance of me.

I Corinthians 11:24, emphasis added

Previously, I noted that it is amazing that we have to be told to remember Christ. I also mentioned the importance of remembering His Person – Who He was and is – and Who He will be always. We must remember Who He is, what He does, what He did, and what He’s going to do.

We must not “forget to remember,” so we need to talk about the “ways” to remember. Not the “ways” meaning “means” or “methods” or “techniques.” Not really “how” to remember. But “ways” in the sense of “follow His ways.” Train up a child in the “way” he should go – not his route home – but the way he is to live.

For this cause have I sent unto you Timotheus, who is my beloved son, and faithful in the Lord, who shall bring you into remembrance of my ways which be in Christ, as I teach every where in every church.

I Corinthians 4:17, emphasis added

Imagine a pastor saying to the congregation, “I’m leaving, but I’m sending you a new pastor. You’re going to like him. He’s a good fellow. He’s going to remind you of me, and he’s going to continue my ways.”

“How arrogant!” we might think. “What do you mean, ‘your ways’ – what about Jesus’s ways?”

But that is essentially what the Apostle Paul is saying in this verse: “Listen to Timothy. He’s going to remind you of my ways – which are in Christ.”

Is it wrong to want to be so much like Jesus that our ways remind people of His ways? We are often so afraid of responsibility that we are quick to try to deflect criticism by saying, “Give me a break – I’m not perfect!” Trust me, if you’ve been involved in very much Christian ministry, it’s unlikely that anyone really thinks you are perfect – especially in the sense of being sinless. However, we ought to be striving to be better than we were before we were saved. I ought to be a better Christian now than I was ten years ago. In fact, I ought to be better than I was last week. I ought to be blameless (Philippians 2:15). “Blameless” is not faultless. When my children write letters to missionaries, there are mistakes in the letters. The letters aren’t “faultless.” But they are “blameless.” Our “ways” should make it hard for people to know a great deal about our own personal likes and dislikes. Do you know certain mature, Spirit-filled Christians, who, when you think about them, you think about Jesus? We must decrease, so He can increase. If the thermostat isn’t set to my perfect satisfaction and I’m a little cold or hot in a room full of people, so what? Does everybody have to know I’m hot or cold? If someone is kind enough to serve me a hot dog, do I have to make it known that, in the future, I would like mustard instead of ketchup? What our opinion is on everything that’s not related to the Kingdom of God is really not that relevant most of the time. We need some folks whose ways have to remind us of Jesus – because they no longer have their own ways.

“… [A]s he is, so are we in this world.” Those are the nine words that end I John 4:17, and they make a wonderful outline: three words in each of three sections.

As He Is: There’s only one thing I can think of that Jesus ever was, but that He’s not anymore, and that’s “dead.” He is certainly alive today! We can remember Him and remember His ways by walking with Him right now.

As He is, So Are We: We can be like Him. In fact, with His imputed righteousness covering up our iniquity – with His blood buying us access into the Holy of Holies in Heaven – we are like Him, in a sense, right now. He is in us and we are in Him.

As He is, so are we, in this World: Even now, in this modern Sodom and Gomorrah, we should be able to say to our children and to new Christians, “Follow my ways – because I’m following His ways.

This do in remembrance of Him – and make your ways remind others of His ways.


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