It is interesting to work with those that do not want to do something. We have a cultural saying of this difficulty in helping someone that does not want help. “You can lead a horse to water but you cannot make it drink!” I think that we have all experienced this as teenagers and with our own children. Just try to get most kids to clean their bedroom! Enough Said. The sad reality is that our kids are often a reflection of us. The Bible reminds us that the mark of an authentic follower of Jesus goes beyond a desire to grow to taking spiritual action.
What is interesting is that the Bible presents a powerful picture of a genuine believer’s voluntary investing in spiritual development. One verse that comes to mind is Paul’s challenge to Jesus’ followers in Philippi. He writes, “Only let your manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ, so that whether I come and see you or am absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving side by side for the faith of the gospel,” (Philippians 1:27) I want to dig into the phrase “manner of life.” This phrase, translated into English, is a word that means, “to live as a citizen — to live in accordance with the civic duties of one’s state or body politic.” It is a word that speaks of taking responsibility for the responsibilities in my life. A good citizen does the things required of being a good citizen. And Paul wanted to see this commitment in their day to day lives.
It is important to point out that in this verse, Paul is not talking about political involvement or earthly citizenship responsibilities. No, he is speaking of the Christian’s response to what Jesus has done for them. The phrase, “be worthy of the gospel of Christ” reminds us that the believers greatest spiritual motivation is living up to who we are in Jesus Christ. Now, there is no way to repay God for our salvation (this is called works) and that is not the point. The point is we live differently out of gratitude for the Lord’s work in our lives.
I often wonder if someone really knows Jesus when there is no desire for spiritual things in their life. They may confess that they may have made a decision for Jesus. They often talk “Christianese” when around others Christians. They many times know many Bible facts. The questions is do they really know Jesus? Jesus pointed out that the marks of a genuine believer are the choices they make. He taught, “You will recognize them by their fruits.” (Matthew 7:16a) Jesus goes on to describe how a tree will reveal its kind by its fruit. He also pointed out that a healthy tree produces good fruits and an unhealthy tree bad fruit. He reminds us that the choices we make every day, our habits, reveal the real truth about us.
Now there is more to this but I want to ask you something. Do the habits of your life reflect that you are responding to what Jesus has done on your behalf? If not, there are a couple possibilities, maybe you don’t know Jesus. Jesus referring to himself as a Shepherd teaches, “When he has brought out all his own, he goes before them, and the sheep follow him, for they know his voice.” (John 10:4) You can only become a follow of Jesus by embracing what He did for you on the Cross Only you can make the choice to be a genuine follower of Jesus.
If you already know Him, then it is time to get back in the game. Paul reminds Pastor Timothy of one of the snares his followers battle, the seductiveness of our culture. And it is in the next verse that he offers the antidote. “But as for you, O man of God, flee these things. Pursue righteousness, godliness, faith, love, steadfastness, gentleness. Fight the good fight of the faith. Take hold of the eternal life to which you were called and about which you made the good confession in the presence of many witnesses.” (1 Timothy 6:11–12) All this is speaking of taking the initiative to grow as His follower. If you desire to grow as a Christian, let us help you. This is our calling at Living Hope!
-Pastor Joe Parkinson