Friday, November 6, 2015

Ingredients for Godly living

1 Corinthians 4:1 "Let a man regard us in this manner, asservants of Christ and stewards of the mysteries of God."

We live our lives before men and before God. A Christian's speech will not be given audience until they first have demonstrated that they have actions to back up their claims. I can recall my dad working at a company among non-Christian people. Except on rare occassions, none of the other employees gave him the time of day until roughly 1 year into the experience. They knew he was a Christian - however so many other people making such claims had turned out to be poor examples. God in His grace had enabled my dad to gradually gain their respect, and in time they would seek him out for counsel and advice. Godly living is so crucial in a godless world. The Apostle Paul was attempting to convey to his readers the ingredients necessary for Godly living and ministry. Such ingredients were vital - since Paul aimed to be an example among a people who questioned his ministry and people who were trying to undermine what God was doing at the church of Corinth. Today's post aims to list out in short order five ingredients necessary for Godly living.

1. Servant's heart. 1 Corinthians 4:1
In this opening verse of 1 Corinthians 4:1, Paul tells his readers to regard he and his companions as "servants of Christ". The Greek word translated "servant" brings to mind an "under-rower". These slaves were in the bottoms of galley ships, chained  to the floors and were situated in rows of benches - rowing in unison to provide propulsion to the Roman ships. If the ship went down - so did they. A servant of Jesus Christ in this manner will serve Him no matter what. So to be Godly, we must have a servant's heart. Notice secondly...

2. Stewardship of faithfulness. 1 Corinthians 4:1
In this instance we are not speaking only of the handling of tithes and offerings (although such practices fit under the principle laid out in this text). On  broader level, we are speaking of how the godly person views their life relative to God. In Jesus Christ I am taken out of ownership and put into management. How well are you and I taking care of what God has given us? Godliness includes being a good steward of the sphere of influence He has given us. So to be Godly, we must have a servant's heart, be stewards, then thirdly...

3. Awareness of God. 1 Corinthians 4:2-4
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:2-4 "In this case, moreover, it is required of stewards that one be found trustworthy. 3 But to me it is a very small thing that I may be examined by you, or byany human court; in fact, I do not even examine myself. 4 For I am conscious of nothing against myself, yet I am not by this acquitted; but the one who examines me is the Lord." The last phrase of verse 4 brings together everything we have said thus far - namely "the one who examines me is the Lord". To know that I am in God's presence and that He knows every thought I say, every word I speak changes (or at least should affect) how I live my life. Walking with God entails cultivating a continual awareness of Him. You and I may not consciously think of the oxygen we breath. However if the amount of it were to alter - we would notice! To know that He is the source of my strength (Nehemiah 8:10) and to know He never leaves me nor forsakes me (Hebrews 13:5) enables me to walk out the Godly life. So in Godly living, I aim to serve, be a good steward and cultiivate an awareness of His presence. Notice what else is needed for Godly living....

4. Eternal perspective. 1 Corinthians 4:5-6
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:5-6  "Therefore do not go on passing judgment before the time, but wait until the Lord comes who will both bring to light the things hidden in the darkness and disclose the motives of men’s hearts; and then each man’s praise will come to him from God. 6 Now these things, brethren, I have figuratively applied to myself and Apollos for your sakes, so that in us you may learn not to exceed what is written, so that no one of you will become arrogant in behalf of one against the other." Why do we sometimes find ourselves wanting to get out of the saddle so-to-speak? One word - impatience. Like the little child who cannot see beyond their nose - Christians get impatient in their walks with God. We use this world as our reference point - rather than God. Henry Blackaby has often noted how the Christian life is to be radically oriented around God. As we seek first His Kingdom - all other things will be added in their proper order and time (see Matthew 6:33). 

Patience comes with proper perspective. An eternal perspective on things understands that the rate of circumstances is exactly the way God wants them. Focusing on the things above gives perspective as to how to live out among the things here below (see Colossians 3:1-3). So to be Godly, I need to serve, be a steward, be aware of God and have an eternal perspective. Now lets notice one final trait....

5. Dependance on God. 1 Corinthians 4:7
Paul writes in 1 Corinthians 4:7 "For who regards you as superior? What do you have that you did not receive? And if you did receive it, why do you boast as if you had not received it?" If we would see our selves as insufficient - and Christ as all sufficient - so would end our preoccupation with ourselves. Human autonomy is a lie, for only One is Autonomous, Self-sufficient and the source of His own being - God. Everything in our lives has been granted directly or indirectly by God. Godly living embraces this principle. 

Thus to realize that I own nothing is to have everything. To enjoy everything in life means that I own nothing. This is not a word-play - this is Gospel truth! Godly people find competiveness and comparison with other people to be a waste of time. God and God alone is their source. Would it be in my pursuit of Godliness that service to Him, stewardship, awareness of Him, eternal perspective and dependance upon Him be found in increasing measure.  

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