"Living Like You Mean It"
Pastor Tom Millner
Scripture: Zechariah 1:1-6, Luke 6:39-42, Colossians 3:1-4
SpiritSong Worship Center
September 27, 2009
Someone said; "The trouble with some of us is that we have been so inoculated with small doses of Christianity that it keeps us from catching the real thing."
C. S. Lewis wrote: "Christianity, if false, is of no importance, and if true, of infinite importance. The only thing it cannot be is moderately important."
In our scripture lessons for today, there are three over arching facts that impact our understanding. From Zechariah we learn that our actions have lasting impact on others. Every action we take, every decision we make, results in a consequential reaction or impact on ourselves and others. God desires that we act in ways that honor Him (build up His body) which means our actions do not cause harm to ourselves and others. So, fact number one is that our actions have lasting consequences!
From Luke we read how Jesus admonishes us to set the example for others. Living with integrity means that what we say we believe, we actually live out as the example. If we're going to remove a speck from our neighbor's eye, we need to first get the log out of our own. I would guess there are a lot of loggers in here, but I find it hard to see around the telephone pole I'm carrying in my eye! You see, every day, I discover another log that I need to remove. Living with integrity demands that I don't pretend that I have no logs. So, fact number two is that I need to be more concerned about my own eye exam than I am about yours.
From Colossians, we read from the Apostle Paul's writing from prison in Rome to the relatively new Christians in Colossae, encouraging them to live a life consistent with who they are in Christ. You see, like many of us here, they came from various cultures and backgrounds. The Jews sought the experience of the ritual, the Greeks the wisdom from the teachers, from others, the ceremony that would render them acceptable. Paul says about all this; "Set your minds on what is above, not on what is on the earth. For you have died, and your life is hidden with the Messiah in God." So, fact number three is that as Christians, we no longer live as our old selves, but as the new creatures we are in Christ.
Let's summarize these three, going from last to first.
Because we are in Christ, we live a life consistent with the character of Christ.
Because I am called to live a life consistent with the character of Christ, I cannot live my life in pious judgment over how you're living your life.
If I am living that life in the Character of Christ, I need not worry about there being a negative impact to my actions.
In other words, a changed world comes about one life at a time! "Igniting the world for Christ…one life at a time" is our mission. Imagine what a light in this dark world this place would be if each of us here bore the flame of the ignited Christ in our lives!!!
Let's look deeper into what Paul is saying here.
(3:5) "Put to death, therefore, whatever belongs to your earthly nature: sexual immorality, impurity, lust, evil desires and greed, which is idolatry. (3:6) Because of these, the wrath of God is coming. (3:7) You used to walk in these ways, in the life you once lived." I hear some squirming going on… don't worry, you're in good company. Nobody came here because they're perfect. But God calls us to that perfect place in Him. He has washed that old stuff away with His blood on the cross… so He's saying live as the cleansed person you really are! Give up that need to have it your way… after all, your way is the door way to hell.
Let's read further:
(3:8) "But now you must rid yourselves of all such things as these: anger, rage, malice, slander, and filthy language from your lips. (3:9) Do not lie to each other, since you have taken off your old self with its practices (3:10) and have put on the new self, which is being renewed in knowledge in the image of its Creator. (3:11) Here there is no Greek or Jew, circumcised or uncircumcised, barbarian, Scythian, slave or free, but Christ is all, and is in all." Galatians 3:28 states it this way: "There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus." We might add here – gay, straight, or any other descriptor that might be inserted as a log in anyone's eye! He's telling us we're all in the same boat by the grace of God! Let go the anger, rage, grudges, put downs and hurtful words that pass over your tongue. After all, the tongue is the only organ that can move faster than the brain! Because we let go of these things, we can be honest with ourselves and each other. After all, we are being renewed each moment in the likeness of Christ… the very character of Christ. What does that look like?
(3:12) "Therefore, as God's chosen people, holy and dearly loved, clothe yourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience.(3:13) Bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances you may have against one another. Forgive as the Lord forgave you. (3:14) And over all these virtues put on love, which binds them all together in perfect unity." Wow – how many of us put on this attire this morning? Which ones of us reflected enough on who we are in Him to clothe ourselves with compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience to the degree that we bear with each other and forgive whatever grievances we may have against one another? After all, the Lord forgave each of us the greatest grievance of all!! If we are whole and free in Him, why not live like it?
(3:15) "Let the peace of Christ rule in your hearts, since as members of one body you were called to peace. And be thankful. (3:16) Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly as you teach and admonish one another with all wisdom, and as you sing psalms, hymns and spiritual songs with gratitude in your hearts to God. (3:17) And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him."
"And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him." Whatever you do, exemplify the character of Christ and give thanks to God through that character.
In my tenure as Sales Trainer in the Pharmaceutical industry, we use to say; "now, WIIFM!"
Simple: You've got the greatest pedigree this side of eternity. If you believe it, live like you mean it! That's a life that can afford compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience – one that forgives grievances because you're free from the grievance against you. Live it like you mean it – see what He has in store for you and this body! A changed heart can change a whole person…a changed person can help change another heart!
Who do you need to forgive this morning? Toward whom do you need to show compassion, kindness, humility, gentleness and patience? Do it today – tomorrow may be too late!
Your actions have eternal impact!