For though I am free from all men, I have made myself a servant to all, that I might win the more; and to the Jews I became as a Jew, that I might win Jews; to those who are under the law, as under the law, that I might win those who are under the law; to those who are without law, as without law (not being without law toward God, but under law toward Christ), that I might win those who are without law; to the weak I became as weak, that I might win the weak. I have become all things to all men that I might by all means save some. 1 Cor 9:19-22
What is Paul saying to the Corinthian church here? Isn’t it important for us to behave in a certain way that we don’t give non-Christians the wrong message? Is Paul watering down the word of God by giving into different groups and their ways? That isn’t my understanding of how Paul evangelized and taught in the Gentile nations. Paul did know that speaking to different groups of people can’t be done the same way. He took each group he came into contact with and spoke to them where they were at helping them to see the truth of God’s word. This is what we need to do in the world we live in – we need to be all things to all people that we might save some.
If I am with younger people, I need to understand where they are coming from in the environment they live in. If I am with senior citizens, I need to realize the past world they come from and the change they have seen in the world since their younger days. If I am with ones that are dealing with addictions, I need to understand they have a barrier that keeps them from realizing a world free of being a tied to something beyond normal. To those who believe in God, but don’t attend a church, I need to help them understand that the church is a group of people that offer relationships, general love and care, and meet together to worship and serve God. To those who live an ungodly life, I need to show them patience and understanding by staying strong to be a spiritual light to them.
In La Grande, we live in a part of the country that is widely unchurched. America is becoming a country that wants to be spiritual, but do not know their Bible. If they don’t know their Bible, then they don’t really know God, Christ, and the Holy Spirit and are trying to be spiritual in a way that is foreign to God and the New Testament. The worldview of people today in society is to be spiritual, relational, seeking truth but do not trust the church, authority, or anyone trying to persuade them of anything. It is easier for them to say, “You believe what you want and I will believe what I want. I will not push my views on you, please don’t push your views on me.” How do we deal with this? We allow them enough time to experience who we are as the church and allow them time to decide if who we are and what we do is something they want to know more about. We have to adapt to where they are and how they move toward the truth to be able to save some. The big questions are: what will we do to adapt to them so they adapt to us? What will we do, without compromising the word of God, to reach the people of today in the area we live in? Be good, invite your friends, and let’s be the church of Christ to them
La Grande Church of Christ
I venture to say that self-control is the key to living in this world. In Lifegroup we’ve been talking about controlling the tongue and all the aspects of that. The book of James says that if a person can control their tongue they are perfect and able to keep the whole body in control (3:2). He goes on to teach that we ought to have control of our listening and temper. Speaking when we should be quiet, not listening when we should, and getting angry when we shouldn’t; produces a life that is undesirable to God (1:19-20).
In today’s culture the internet can get us information that in the past was unimaginable, but with that come information and entertainment we shouldn’t be part of. There are filters to keep us from going to these undesirable websites, but anyone with knowledge of electronic devices can get around them. For those addicted to pornography (one addiction that is rampant in the world today) there are filters that send a message to people one trusts to keep them accountable, but somewhere those addicted need to learn self-control. There are many addictions that are running unchecked in the world today. What is your addiction?
So how do we learn self-control? Addictions or giving in to things can be very damaging to your marriage, family, faith, and relationships – especially with God. We have to decide what is more important to us. Would we rather give in to desires that are harmful to the areas mentioned or put up with discomfort to be the person that is in control of their life?
They say it takes 2-3 weeks to learn a good habit. A bad habit doesn’t take nearly that long. We need to look honestly to see what habits/addictions we have picked up that either hurt or hold back our marriage, family, faith, and relationships. How much does that habit mean to you? Would you rather keep the habit or take the chance of hurting or losing any of the areas mentioned above? The choice is yours. What will you put above your marriage, family, faith, relationships, or God? Think about it and choose what is good and right in these areas.
Continuing the series from 2 Peter 1:5-7, we come to the next attribute we can add to our faith – knowledge. We gain knowledge in a lot of different ways. Television, movies, reading, listening to others, etc. but what really helps us to be knowledgeable? Well, it depends on what you want to learn, and what you want to learn, you study. If you want to know all the screen stars then you watch TV, movies, and read magazines and articles off the internet. If you want to learn cooking you watch the food channel, study cookbooks, and experiment on some poor soul. The examples could go on and on.
But what if you want to gain knowledge to help your faith in God? Then you need to study Him and His ways. If you are going to know about God the Father you need to know about Christ and the Holy Spirit because they are all one. That sounds like a lot to do. Well, yes, it is a life pursuit. There is no quick and easy way to do it. But you can read Genesis and Exodus to find out who God is. In Psalms you can learn how to express yourself to God. In Proverbs you can gain wisdom of how God wants you be. You can read the gospels of Matthew, Mark, Luke, and John and learn about Jesus. Jesus in the gospel of John gives us some idea of who the Holy Spirit is and what His function is. Acts of the Apostles gives us an idea of where the church began and how it grew. The epistles of those closest to Jesus give us information of the best way to be a Christian and be part of Christ’s church. Revelation gives us a warning, as the church, on what was to come through history that we need to watch out for and then gives us a glimpse of end times. Remember this about Revelation, it is only bad if you are not faithful to God through Jesus Christ. To those who stay faithful it is victory in Jesus.
Make it your life pursuit to really know God the Father, Christ the Son, and the Holy Spirit. Read and think about what you read. Don’t assume, but ask questions of those who have studied before you. Apply God’s word to your life – live it. Act it out on the way you enact with others and remember what Jesus said, “Take the log out of your own eye before trying to take the sliver out of somebody else’s. Grow in the word and will of God – with that comes true knowledge that will matter in the end.
La Grande Church of Christ
Continuing in our study of 2 Peter 1:5-7 is adding perseverance/patience/temperance to our faith. What is perseverance? Is it hanging in there no matter what? It is to some degree but not always. In improving our life, we need to persevere in our relationship with God. It has to be God guiding us in our life. It takes persevering in daily devotional time of studying, praying, and meditating in the presence of God. God will guide us in various ways that we usually call opening or closing doors, but it takes knowing, listening, and persevering in God’s ways to recognize the doors.
I can persevere to the point of wearing myself out, but is it for the right reason? There is a point where it is called being bullheaded or plain stubborn. My Dad always told me to “stand up for what you feel is right, and if you find out you’re wrong, then be the first one to say so.” If in your physical life, or spiritual life, we know what we’re doing is the right or the only way, then persevere through it. If we are in relationship with God and we are given a new or better way to go, then take it and see where it leads. If we find a closed door, then go back to where we were and wait for God again. If we find an open door where everything is working right then persevere and stay the course.
Of course with God’s Word and our faith, we need to persevere to the end of our lives so we can have our reward in heaven. Revelation is a story of persevering to the end. Bad things will happen, temptations will try and take us from God, and the world will make us want to give up, but Jesus told John that we must stay faithful (persevere) through our lives to be counted faithful to receive everlasting life with God in heaven: “This calls for patient endurance on the part of the saints who obey God's commandments and remain faithful to Jesus” (Rev 14:12).
Paul put it this way to the Colossians: “We pray this in order that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and may please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God, being strengthened with all power according to His glorious might so that you may have great endurance and patience, and joyfully giving thanks to the Father, who has qualified you to share in the inheritance of the saints in the kingdom of light” (Col 1:10-12).
For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ. 2 Peter 1:8
We have gone through all the godly characteristics that Peter tells us to add to our faith. Now we see that it isn’t enough to just have these qualities, but Peter tells us we need to have them “in increasing measure”. That means you cannot add to your faith enough goodness, knowledge, self-control, perseverance, godliness, brotherly kindness, and love but you need to keep adding them to your life.
If you’re coming out of a life of sin where everything you do hurts you inside, and possibly out, this is great news. Peter says you can do all of these traits as much as you want! Whoo hoo! If you think that isn’t good news get rid of your bad habits and practice these qualities in increasing measure for six months and see if you don’t have a better life. I bet you won’t want to return to your old ways at the end of this time.
Sin holds us down and hurts our self-esteem, our physical body, and our relationship with others – esp. God. They make us ineffective and unproductive in our life and the society we live in. When I was into drugs and alcohol they seemed good at the time, but they were ways of escape so that I didn’t take any initiative to become better in my life. It was just sedating the mind to where one doesn’t care anymore. That doesn’t help you, it definitely doesn’t help your kids and family, and it doesn’t help the world we live in – in fact it hurts all those areas. Paul said to the Thessalonians what people do who reject the Lord’s ways and stay in their life of sin: they always heap up their sins to the limit (1 Thess 2:16).
You don’t have to stay in that condition. Peter tells us not to do the things that hurt us and those around us but to become effective and productive in our life by adding these good qualities to replace the sin in our lives. The more you add these qualities to your life, the more you don’t have room for sin to seep back into your life. For those who have been faithful in their lives, maybe even all their lives, adding these qualities in increasing measure makes their Christian lives even sweeter. Increase in these qualities for yourself, for your kids and family, for the community you live in, and most of all to show your love for God.