SPIRITUAL NOURISHMENT FOR TODAY (November 23, 2013)
“But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, longsuffering, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, self-control. Against such there is no law. And those who are Christ’s have crucified the flesh with its passions and desires. If we live in the Spirit, let us also walk in the Spirit. Let us not become conceited, provoking one another, envying one another” Galatians 5:22-26.
“SINCE WE LIVE BY THE SPIRIT, LET US KEEP IN STEP WITH THE SPIRIT” Galatians 5:25 (NIV).
In the previous edition, we discussed FAITHFULNESS as part of the FRUIT OF THE SPIRIT. We learnt that the God whom we serve is faithful God and has kept and will continue to keep his word. It was also understood that God wants the people with whom he has established a covenant to show their faithfulness to him just as he has always been faithful to his people. We made the point that obedience to the word of God is an indication of man’s faithfulness to God. It is important to also remind ourselves that God rewards his faithful ones and punishes the unfaithful ones. This is confirmed by both the Old and the New Testaments. THE GRACE AND LOVE OF GOD DOES NOT CHANGE HIS NATURE AS THE FAITHFUL AND JUST GOD WHO REWARDS GOOD AND PUNISHES EVIL. In this edition, we want to continue with an aspect of human faithfulness we could not mention in the previous edition.
Faithful Christians also show their faith in God by being faithful in whatever we do in the church and society with the understanding that we MUST DO EVERYTHING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD (1 Corinthians 10:31). Paul’s emphasis in 1 Corinthians 10:31 is that in WHATEVER WE DO, WE SHOULD DO IT ALL FOR THE GLORY OF GOD. I don’t know how many of us have taken time to ponder over this biblical verse, but I want to remind all of us that Paul indeed meant EVERYTHING WE DO AS CHRISTIANS, WHETHER IN THE SOCIETY, THE FAMILY, THE CHURCH OR AS INDIVIDUALS, WE SHOULD DO IT ALL FOR GOD’S GLORY. What it means is that whatever a Christian does from sunrise to another sunrise, must be done to the glory of God. This includes our family lives and responsibilities; our academic lives, our eating and drinking habits, the way we dress and the way we take care of our physical bodies, the jobs we do and how we do them; what we do in our relations, our ministries as Christian leaders etcetera must all be done for the glory of God.
IT MUST BE EMPHASIZED THAT, FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS ALWAYS LIVE WITH THE MINDSET OF DOING EVERYTHING FOR THE GLORY OF GOD! ARE YOU A FAITHFUL CHRISTIANS?
Faithful Christians and Christian leaders teach God’s word the way God has commanded them to do. They do not hide the truth from their flock because they might lose members or money. It is very true that when we talk about certain issues in our sermons and teachings we may lose some people who may be supporting our ministries or churches financially. This has led to many Christian leaders shielding the truth in order to avoid losing such influential people in their congregations. The question which arises therefore is whether we are being faithful to God by refusing to tell the truth. In Acts 4:18-20, Peter and John demonstrated their faithfulness to God even at the expense of their personal lives. When they were warned not to mention the name of Jesus or preach about him because it was offensive to the religious authorities of Jerusalem, this is what they said:
“JUDGE FOR YOURSELVES WHETHER IT IS RIGHT IN GOD’S SIGHT TO OBEY YOU RATHER THAN GOD. FOR WE CANNOT HELP SPEAKING ABOUT WHAT WE HAVE SEEN AND HEARD” v. 19-20.
This is an indication of faithfulness to God. The faithfulness of John and Peter energized them to defy the political as well as the religious authorities of their day. They were unwilling to compromise the truth just to please human beings. Why then should we refuse to speak the truth because we do not want to lose some friends or supporters? Is your faith in the help of men or in God the Creator of the entire universe? Why do you have to tell lies and deceive people in order to make money or draw people into your church or ministry or to gain popularity? IS THAT FAITHFULNESS TO GOD? CHRISTIAN LEADERS AND CHRISTIANS IN GENERAL MUST BE PREPARED TO TELL THE TRUTH IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON AS PART OF OUR FAITHFULNESS TO GOD! In Paul’s encouragement to Timothy, he said:
“PREACH THE WORD; BE PREPARED IN SEASON AND OUT OF SEASON; CORRECT, REBUKE AND ENCOURAGE WITH GREAT PATIENCE AND CAREFUL INSTRUCTION” 2 Timothy 4:2.
Therefore Christians and Christian leaders should not be intimidated by the people of the world or those who pretend to be Christians when it comes to issues concerning the TRUTH.
One very important thing to note about being faithful to God in our teachings and sermons as Christians is that it may also put our lives in danger. It may affect our finances as we may lose those who support us financially. It may cost us our relationships as we may lose some friends because we stand for and speak the truth. It may also lead to our persecution and subsequent martyrdom. These are truths every Christian has to remember in his/her daily life. That is, TELLING THE TRUTH AND STANDING FOR THE TRUTH CAN LAND US INTO SO MANY DIFFICULTIES.
This has both biblical and extra-biblical support. For instance we know that Peter, James, John, Paul, Stephen and the Apostles suffered mockery, beating and painful deaths because they spoke the TRUTH about Jesus’ death and resurrection and also the fact that he is the king over the whole of the universe. Many of the early Christians were martyred and killed in the arena because of their faith in Christ Jesus. This is a clear indication that:
OUR FAITH IN CHRIST WILL NOT ALWAYS MAKE US LIVE COMFORTABLE LIVES AS CHRISTIANS – SOMETIMES IT WILL CAUSE US PAINS AND TEARS. IT WILL BRING SUFFERING UPON OUR LIVES AND OUR FAMILIES BUT IT SHOULD ALWAYS BE EXPECTED.
Unfortunately some Christians fail to accept suffering as part of our faithfulness to God. Let us be reminded always that as Christians we may suffer hardship just because of our faith. However, there is assurance for Christians who suffer and endure the suffering. Jesus said:
“BLESSED ARE YOU WHEN PEOPLE INSULT YOU, PERSECUTE YOU AND ACCUSE YOU AND FALSELY SAY ALL KINDS OF EVIL AGAINST YOU BECAUSE OF ME. REJOICE AND BE GLAD FOR GREAT IS YOUR REWARD IN HEAVEN, FOR IN THE SAME WAY THEY PERSECUTED THE PROPHETS WHO WERE BEFORE YOU” Matthew 5:11-12.
This should give us a better understanding that as we seek to remain faithful to God by sharing the true gospel and speaking against evil, we shall face persecution. However, we have been assured that we should persevere because GREAT IS OUR REWARD IN HEAVEN.
It is obvious from God’s word that Christians are to demonstrate our faithfulness to God in the world by teaching the true gospel without compromising both in the Christian setting and also in the society. We should however remember that it will not always happen without hardships. But whatever we face as a result of our faith should cause us to rejoice and remain more faithful to God because there is great reward awaiting us. Jesus said in Matthew 24:12-13 that:
BECAUSE OF THE INCREASE IN WICKEDNESS, THE LOVE OF MOST WILL GROW COLD, BUT HE WHO STANDS FIRM TO THE END WILL BE SAVED.
Apostle Paul also admonished us in this way: THEREFORE, MY DEAR BROTHERS, STAND FIRM. LET NOTHING MOVE YOU. ALWAYS GIVE YOURSELF FULLY TO THE WORK OF THE LORD, BECAUSE YOU KNOW THAT YOUR LABOR IN THE LORD IS NOT IN VAIN.
Watch out for another side of this sermon in the next edition. Until then, it is my prayer that we shall understand his word and remain faithful to him irrespective of what may happen to us.
THE WORD OF THE LORD!
Pastor Nana Kobina Baisie
Teacher/Pastor at Nadrim Mission International School, Busan, Korea.