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Sunday, March 27, 2016 am                                    Others 2016 Index

 

OTHERS (13)
Be an Example (3)
The Christian and Society

 

As we continue our study of being an example in every aspect of our lives, today we want to talk about being an example in society.  By society I mean the community in which we live, our neighborhood.    This is an area where we can have great impact as we are dealing with our immediate surroundings.  We are dealing with those we associate with on a day to day basis, and the decisions that affect our immediate affairs in life.  It is in this area of life where we are going to have the greatest potential (other than our family) to win other souls to Christ.  For that reason alone, it is imperative that we be a proper example.

Last week we noted 1 Peter 2:12. It says, “Beloved, I beg you as sojourners and pilgrims, abstain from fleshly lusts which war against the soul, having your conduct honorable among the Gentiles, that when they speak against you as evildoers, they may, by your good works which they observe, glorify God in the day of visitation.”  This is not just about our governing authorities, but it includes our neighbors and our community.

So, what are some things to consider as we address our relationship within our society?

 I.                     Love your neighbor as yourself –

a.       The second greatest commandment - Matt. 22:39 and a fundamental precept upon which all that we do is based.

b.       This command is repeated several times in the New Testament with emphasis on its importance. 

James 2:8 describes it as the royal law.  
Rom. 13:8-10 – Paul described this love as the fulfillment of the law.

c.        Luke 10:25-37 –  addressing the greatest commandments, a lawyer seeking to justify himself asked Jesus, “And who is my neighbor?”   Jesus responded with the parable of the good Samaritan and concluded that our neighbor is whoever we have opportunity to show mercy to.

d.       When we think of our impact on our community and our neighborhood, we need to remember this command.  Are you making your community better by your example?

e.       Matthew 7:12 – the golden rule.  Treat your neighbor the way you would want to be treated.

 II.                   A Christian in our community

a.       Decorum within a community - we should not live so as to deliberately be an embarrassment to our community.  In a godless society, a faithful Christian may be unacceptable to those around him, but the general rule is we need to live with good manners and action.
Etiquette refers to standards that indicate the polite and proper way to conduct oneself.    While the word etiquette is not found in the Bible, “conduct” is as seen in 1 Peter 2:12. 
Consider also Philippians 1:27 – let your conduct be worthy of the gospel of Christ.  1 Tim. 4:12 be an example in conduct. Jas. 3:13 with good conduct our works are to be done in the meekness of wisdom. 
Numerous other passages call for us to act with this decorum – 1 Cor. 13:5 – love does not behave rudely; Col. 4:5-6 speaks of walking in wisdom toward those outside, our speech always with grace, seasoned with salt; 1 Tim. 2:1-2 – lead a quiet life with godliness and reverence (a word meaning dignified behavior).
My point is that as Christians, we ought to strive to be good neighbors.  Within our neighborhoods, we ought to blend in.  We ought to strive to be an asset to the community, not a liability. 
Be respectful (not the troublemaker or house with the bad reputation), and homes and families that are maintained.  (cf. Prov. 24:30-34)

b.       Consider where do you go and what you support – your entertainment choices (R rated movies, bars, casinos, etc.) should set a proper example (Phil. 2:15).   Supporting such things contributes to their impact on society.    1 Thess. 5:21-22 calls for us to test all things and abstain from every form of evil.
They also need to see priorities in your decisions.  Remember, the church is a part of the community!  How important do they see it in our lives?

c.        Lead a quiet life – mind your own business – walk properly toward those who are outside.
1 Thess. 4:11-12 calls for this. 
As Christians, this supports how we are not to be causing trouble.  We should not be meddling where we don’t belong.  
Sins such as gossip would also fit in this category.  A quick way to cause damage in any environment, including a community, is to engage in gossip.  One of the concerns Paul had with the church in Thessalonica, at least later, was that some were not busy and thus they were busybodies which involves meddling in the affairs of others.  This is followed by a command similar to the previous to work in quietness.  (2 Thess. 3:11-12)
1 Timothy 5:13 – warning of women who become idle gossips and busybodies.   Don’t forget Proverbs 26:20, “Where there is no wood, the fire goes out; And where there is no talebearer, strife ceases.

Leading a quiet life also involves modestly – literally – 1 Tim. 2:9-10, etc.   Do we with our appearance draw undue attention to ourselves (More on this in a few months) and diminish the standards within the community?

d.       Be pleasant and friendly – We have spent considerable time addressing proper and improper attitudes.  They apply within our community as well. 
Control your temper – James 1:19 – slow to anger.  Eph. 4:26, 31 – anger, bitterness, wrath – let it be put away.
Romans 15:2, “let each on please his neighbor leading to edification.

e.       Honesty – this is a fundamental quality we need to have.  We need to be honest and honorable in all things.    What kind of reputation do you have with your neighbors?   What about within the community? 
Romans 13:8 – owe no one anything except to love one another.
Matt. 23:16-23, 5:37 – Jesus taught us to let our word be our bond. 
Ex. 20:16 – one of the 10 commandments – don’t bear false witness against your neighbor.

f.         Personal Benevolence – we have continually emphasized our need to care for others.  While the church is limited in its work in this area, as Christians, we can and should be benevolent to the best of our ability.  Ephesians 4:28 calls for us to work to take care of ourselves and to have some to help others. 
James 1:27, Galatians 6:10
Acts 9:36 – the example of Dorcas.  Acts 10:2 – the example of Cornelius.
Titus 2:14 as Christians we ought to be “zealous for good works.”

g.       Pray for our community – 1 Tim. 2:1-4- just as we pray for our leaders, we pray for all men.  We ought to be praying for the good of our community.  Often times, communities are unwilling participants in ungodly legislation and troubles – whether it be violence or forced changes in laws, changes in educational standards, etc.  Many communities are happy to allow churches to stand by their convictions (knowing that it has a direct bearing on the moral fiber of that community).
The point is they need our prayers as they have such a direct impact on us.

h.       Evangelism – typically, this too is a community issue.  This is where most of our work in reaching the lost will take place.   This is why we have gospel meetings.  This where, like Paul, we seek to become all things to all men so that we may win some (1 Cor. 9:22).
 The best thing you can do to make society a better place is to seek to reach the lost.  Every soul converted to Christ is a soul won from the devil and an improvement to a society.  2 Cor. 5:11
AND, lest we forget, that is what being an example is all about!

 

The Bible emphasizes the importance of our neighbors.   Proverbs 3:29 says, Do not devise evil against your neighbor, For he dwells by you for safety’s sake.

Proverbs 11:9, “The hypocrite with his mouth destroys his neighbor, But through knowledge the righteous will be delivered.

Romans 15:2, “Let each of us please his neighbor for his good, leading to edification.

                May we strive to be godly examples in this area of our lives as well.