Monthly Archives: November 2012

I was Just Laughing at a Joke!

You may have heard the old phrase, “Always preach Christ, and sometimes use your mouth.” While I am not sure that this gives a fair and accurate representation of what Christ had in mind in the great commission, we get the point, right? The phrase implies that our behavior preaches Christ too. While I suggest that we should be talking about Christ more, I admit that our behavior can say so much more about our beliefs sometimes than our words.

Ephesians 4:29-30 reads, “Do not let any unwholesome talk come out of your mouths, but only what is helpful for building others up according to their needs, that it may benefit those who listen.”  Whether in the work place or in the church, this is true. The way you interact with others will determine whether you will be seen as “different” or just like others in the world.

What does that mean to the Christian? Consider the following:

If we laugh at off-color jokes, we give permission to the person telling the joke that it is OK to continue this activity in our presence. If we fail to laugh, we discourage this behavior. How do you handle inappropriate humor? Do you let others know that you don’t appreciate it? This will define future situations with that person and it will get communicated to others because of your response. You might become known as the “religious” person in your office, but isn’t that OK?

What about how we talk about management or others in front of other employees and friends. In a workplace it can easily become a “we” versus “them” culture. If this happens you violate Paul’s command to honor those who employ you. “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” (Titus 2:9-10).

Now, consider this…what about how we behave in the church? Do we speak against the elders? Do we laugh at jokes about leaders? Do we get in the car and make comments about how long the sermon was or laugh about a mistake the song leader made or the songs he picked? What kind of message does that send to our children? It isn’t “we” vs. “them” in the church. We are all in it together.

Give some thought this week to how your behavior “preaches” Jesus and what you can do to help build up the body of Christ.

Breaking the Chains of Habit

Samuel Johnson, an English writer, once wrote, “The chains of habit are generally too small to be felt until they are too strong to be broken.”  It is amazing how little habits grow into seemingly unbreakable sins. Bad habits tend to creep in, little by little. When those chains are well formed as sin, they are very hard to break. James puts it this way in James 1:14-15, “each one is tempted when, by his own evil desire, he is dragged away and enticed. Then, after desire has conceived, it gives birth to sin; and sin, when it is full-grown, gives birth to death.”

Good habits generally don’t happen without more awareness and work. It generally takes effort, planning, and commitment to create a good habit. Of course, just as with a bad habit, good habits are formed little by little over time. Perhaps this story by an unknown author says it best…

A wise old teacher was taking a stroll through the forest with one of his students. The teacher stopped and pointed to four plants. The first was a tiny sprout, just coming out of the earth. The second, a little bigger, had rooted itself firmly in the fertile soil. The third was a small shrub. The fourth had grown into a well-developed tree.

The teacher instructed, “Pull up this first plant.” The student pulled it up easily with just his fingers. “Now pull up the second.” The student obeyed, and with a slight effort the plant came up, root and all. “And now the third.” The student pulled with one hand, then the other, but it would not come. Then he took both hands and the plant yielded to all his strength. “And now,” said the master, “try the fourth.” The student grasped the trunk with all his might, but hardly a leaf shook. “I cannot even move it!” he exclaimed.

“Just so,” said the teacher, “with bad habits. When they are young and small, we can cast them out, but when they are fully grown, they are hard to uproot.” If you have a habit you cannot get rid of, cast it upon the Lord and start anew. If you are looking to form new habits, start today…then tomorrow, and tomorrow, and tomorrow.

An ‘Election’ Worth Staying Up For!

Last night, someone joined a very small club, those who hold the highest office in the land. It is a small brotherhood, with awesome responsibility. Of course, I mean a lost soul who became one of the “elect” of God. Why? What did you think I meant?

What does it mean to be one of the “elect” (2 John 1:1, ‘chosen’) of God? It means those who accept the foreknown and predestined salvation plan of God (Ephesians 1:4). Believing in His Son places one in a small, but important, category of people who hold the highest office available – a great high priesthood (1 Peter 2:9) who receive “every spiritual blessing” in the heavenly places (Ephesians 1:3).

Oh yeah, I know…there was a different election last night. And I don’t mean to belittle the importance of elections. God places leaders in office who will accomplish His will (Romans 13:1). That can be hard to accept some times. Even tougher, those who resist such authority have opposed God and will receive condemnation (13:2). So it is important to follow “election” outcomes, even when we don’t fully understand His methods for accomplishing His will.

But was the election for President really worthy of all the attention, time, money, and division it caused? How many of us have ever stayed up past midnight wondering if somewhere, someone was joining the “elect?” I pray that someone put on Christ, and was adopted as a son (Ephesians 1:5), redeemed by His blood (7), and richly lavished with gifts (7-8). For God is not willing that any should perish, but that all would come to knowledge of the truth (1 Timothy 2:3) and repentance (2 Peter 3:9).

And if that person, a baptized believer (Mark 16:16), will suffer through kings and governments in the name, “Christian,” there is no greater way to endure the trials of this world (1 Peter 4:14). We must submit ourselves, for the Lord’s sake, to every human institution (1 Peter 2:13-18) because God is glorified in Christ-like behavior. Those who are the “elect” have far more riches, power, and responsibility in this world and the next.

Perhaps we should test ourselves to see if our hope is in an election or in being an “elect” people.