Tuesday, March 8, 2011

Worthy of the Gospel

"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

In a sermon I recently heard based off this verse, Francis Chan provides the visual of an old balance scale which holds the weight of the gospel on one side, and my life on the other. Admittedly, this is quite a daunting way to measure my life. This passage has begun to impact me in a few specific areas of my life. Do my actions, my mind and my speech function in a way that upholds the eternal weight of the gospel of Jesus Christ?

Do my actions show love in a way that could equate the love we're commanded to portray in the gospel. Do I take Jesus seriously when he says, "You shall love the Lord your God with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your mind. This is the great and first commandment. And a second is like it: You shall love your neighbor as yourself. On these two commandments depend all the Law and the Prophets" (Matt. 22:37-40). Honestly, I know that I don't always uphold the gospel in my love to others. Though I can love the people that love me, I often struggle to love those that don't love me in return. That reeks of my selfish carnal nature. Jesus said, “If you love those who love you, what credit is that to you? Even sinners love those who love them" (Luke 6:32). Sometimes I fall so short...

Then I realize that one of the biggest pieces of the puzzle of holiness in my life is my mind. It is so clearly evident to me that my mind dictates the way I react to everything! This is why we are told in Colossians 3:2-3, "Set your minds on things above, not on earthly things. For you died, and your life is now hidden with Christ in God". This means that Christ intercedes for me constantly to ultimately bring me into communion with the triune God. Ergo, I should react to things the way Jesus would because my mind is set on things above instead of on earthly things (me). Perverted jokes are no longer funny. Movies that mock the sacred institution of marriage or the bondage of sin break your heart. Furthermore, I find complete joy in my relationships on earth because I begin to see people through the eyes of Christ. What an awesome opportunity to be able to catch a glimpse of Christ's vision! Only in this way can I exemplify the fruits of the spirit, which are "love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control" (Gal. 5:22-23).

Lately the Lord has given me a greater sensitivity to my words and to the words of those around me. One of the most powerful instructions on speech comes from James, chapter 3. "...The tongue is a flame of fire. It is a whole world of wickedness, corrupting your entire body. It can set your whole life on fire, for it is set on fire by hell itself" (v6). Unless of course we are thinking about things above and are allowing ourselves, in turn, to be sourced by the holy spirit. In this case, we will be speaking about eternal matters. "Since we are living by the Spirit, let us follow the Spirit’s leading in every part of our lives" (Gal. 5:25). I can only hope that as I grow in Christ, my speech about him becomes more and more natural in my conversations.

I am definitely a work in progress but I praise God that he is so gracious in revealing his truth in my life!