Be Serious About Our Christian Life
Jesus demands serious obedience from His children in the entirety of their life. Paul exhorted the Philippian Christians to diligence and seriousness in the Christian life. He said, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling; for it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure. Do all things without complaining and disputing, that you may become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world, holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain. Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." (Philippians 2:12-17) Let us observe how Christians are exhorted to diligence:
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be obedient in life. Christians must be diligent and serious in their Christian obedience. Paul wrote, "Therefore, my beloved, as you have always obeyed, not as in my presence only, but now much more in my absence, work out your own salvation with fear and trembling." (Philippians 2:12) The salvation of our souls is dependent upon our obedience to God. "And having been perfected, He became the author of eternal salvation to all who obey Him." (Hebrews 5:9) We are required to work out our own salvation. We cannot use the goodness of our parents or the faithfulness of other members of a congregation. Salvation is a personal matter and each person must obey God for himself. Our obedience begins with our belief in Christ as our Savior repentance of our sinful ways and baptism for the forgiveness of our sins. Our obedience continues as we live according to the New Testament. Obedience is not a one time thing but a continuing way of life. "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne." (Revelation 3:20-21)
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be souls through whom God works. Paul said God works in the life of Christians. "For it is God who works in you both to will and to do for His good pleasure." (Philippians 2:13) The life of a Christian will not be futile because God is at work in that life. Christians must go forth in total dependence upon God and His grace. All our working depends upon God working in us. God's good will in our life is the cause of good work from our life.
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be cheerful in actions. Christians are taught to, "Do all things without complaining and disputing." (Philippians 2:14) Christians are peaceable, loving and cheerful in action. It is not always easy to be cheerful but when we think on the goodness of God who provides the physical and spiritual blessings our spirits will be lifted. Complaining is usually a sign that we are ungrateful. Disputing over things which are not a matter of right versus wrong creates an atmosphere which is unchristian and harmful to us and to those around us. We must continually work to show the life of Christ in our life. "Finally, all of you be of one mind, having compassion for one another; love as brothers, be tenderhearted, be courteous." (1 Peter 3:8)
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be blameless in conduct. Paul encourages Christians to "...become blameless and harmless, children of God without fault in the midst of a crooked and perverse generation, among whom you shine as lights in the world." (Philippians 2:15) We must do all the good we can and the least amount of harm possible. Christians must be blameless before men and sincere before God. To be blameless before men we must follow Jesus' teaching at all times. We cannot follow if we do not know. We must devote part of each day to a study of God's word. After we learn the words we must apply them so that our life shows we know the meaning of the teaching. If we are sincere before God this study and practice of the principles learned will become our nature and help us overcome Satan's temptations. Christians must be good people who shine as lights in the world.
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be bold in the defense of truth. The gospel is called the "word of life." Christians are admonished, "Holding fast the word of life, so that I may rejoice in the day of Christ that I have not run in vain or labored in vain." (Philippians 2:16) The truth is what brings life through Jesus Christ. Christians must hold fast to truth and hold forth the truth. It is not always easy to defend the truth. Truth has nothing to fear from evil; but, we will be weak defenders of the faith if we do not grow strong in God's word. We are told by Peter: "But sanctify the Lord God in your hearts, and always be ready to give a defense to everyone who asks you a reason for the hope that is in you, with meekness and fear." (1 Peter 3:15) If we are properly prepared we will not fear the false prophets who are sure to come into our lives. "But there were false prophets also among the people, even as there shall be false teachers among you, who privily shall bring in damnable heresies, even denying the Lord that bought them, and bring upon themselves swift destruction." (2 Peter 2:1)
When we are serious about our Christianity we will be sacrificial in service. Paul was ready to suffer for the good of the Philippian brethren. "Yes, and if I am being poured out as a drink offering on the sacrifice and service of your faith, I am glad and rejoice with you all." (Philippians 2:17) Paul would gladly lay down his life to promote the cause of Christ, help the brethren and spread the gospel. He understood that the cause of Christ is worth his labor. We need to strive to have this same attitude of "love of the brethren." We are God's people, children of our heavenly Father, and we must show that to the world. If we can begin to think "less of self" and more of others we will be growing in grace. Remember "...you are a chosen generation, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, His own special people, that you may proclaim the praises of Him who called you out of darkness into His marvelous light." (1 Peter 2:9)
Let us go forth and teach the world of the glorious kingdom of Christ. Christians are: (1) Obedient in life, (2) Souls through whom Christ works, (3) Cheerful in action, (4) Blameless and harmless in conduct, (5) Bold in defense of truth, and (6) Sacrificial in service. There is no life to compare with the Christian life. "I have been crucified with Christ; it is no longer I who live, but Christ lives in me; and the life which I now live in the flesh I live by faith in the Son of God, who loved me and gave Himself for me." (Galatians 2:20) Are you a Christian? To become a Christian you must: (1) hear the gospel of Christ (John 6:44-45), (2) believe in Jesus (Acts 8:37), (3) repent of sins (Luke 13:5), (4) confess Christ as Lord (Romans 10:9-10), and (5) be baptized to wash away your sins. (Acts 22:16) Are you a Christian? If the answer is yes then you are exhorted to be diligent in serving Jesus.
By Charles Box, Walnut Street Church of Christ, P.O. Box 551, Greenville, Alabama 36037 USA