July 11, 2021

Commitment to God: Character (part 2)

Scripture:

Recently, Christianity has been increasingly on the defensive; constantly justifying itself or proving its rights for existence. Many believers, seeing how things develop over time, took the following position: we just simply want to keep the faith, and have strength to persevere, but there is no conversation on influencing the world around us. Today’s passage, reignites the vision on how Christians ought to influence this world… and, actually, it is a very powerful influence!

It has to do with the most fundamental principle – the character of the Christian. Who you are is the most powerful instrument to influence the world. Whether God will use this tool or not, depends on what that character is.

My sons have plastic, toy construction tools, but when they want to build something real, for example, a tree house, then for some reason they don’t use their toy tools, but take my hammers, drills and saws.

Likewise, Christians have either a real character, or a toy character. We will see in our text the real character. But a toy one, is only seen in church and on Sundays; for such person truth is boring; he doesn’t care about the Scripture, because he’s not interested in changing his character… all he wants is a to-do list, and just live the life of a philanthropist, like Bill Gates, or any other secular volunteer. But this instrument is a toy… there is no power in it. There is no character transformed by the truth!

And what is the true, real character that God uses to change and transform the world?

Read (Rom. 12:14-21) The main goal is to influence the world around you!

How? What qualities of character are we called to have and develop?

We will highlight 7 character qualities of a Christian that become great instruments in the hands of God! Moreover, the strongest quality is at the end, and the first 6 are just an introduction to the main thing!

I. Kindness (v. 14)

It is said twice that this man is blessing others. It seems that this person, absolutely everyone with whom he comes into contact, blesses. Have you men such people?

What does it mean? He wants God to bless others. This means that he sincerely wishes the good upon other people.

Are you really interested in the good of the people around you? For their business go grow, their churches to be larger, stronger, their ministry be more successful, and more fruitful?

But here, the text has a serious challenge – you ought to bless your persecutors. It is not easy! We are called to bless bad bosses, horrible neighbors, disobedient children, a difficult husband, un-submissive wife… think of any challenging relationship – bless them!

II. Sensitivity (v. 15)

The ability to feel the joys and pains of others. It’s not easy.

Not everyone can rejoice with those who rejoice – they feel good, one might say, but why should this make me feel good? After all, it was they who bought a new car, it was their child who was born, it was he who god a good job, why should I be happy? A warm-hearted person, will rejoice for others.

Weeping with those who weep is not easy either. After all, this is not my grief! It’s not my business. Heartless man, will pass by. But the one whose character is heartfelt and warm, will try to get someone-else’s shoes, and will weep with those who weep.

III. Friendliness (v. 16a)

There is no hypocrisy, but unity and harmony are present when a person is friendly.

Any friend you have is your friend because in at least one area you are alike. You look alike at music, parenting, transportation, politics, economics, doctrine, church… Are you looking for common ground with others? I want to speak about older generation…they are your best friends

IV. Humility (v. 16b)

Humility is not thinking about yourself! This is when, I forget about myself, and care about the welfare of others! It is to put others above yourself! The interests of others are ahead of their own! Against “cool”!!!

“associate with the lowly” – this word is found in (Gal. 2:13) “even Barnabas was carried away by their hypocrisy.” The word “was lead astray” – here is translated as “associated”. Once again, this is not a new action that Christian does, but an inner striving of the soul!

V. A sense of honor (v. 17) 

Honor is inner principles that do not allow you to be led by your emotions or circumstances. You have been wronged, and you don’t do the same in return! But honor is more than that – a man of honor, he is not only does not get on the level of the enemy, but he stays human, and cares about the good, about honor, even at difficult times.

As often happens, even with good people, when things get really bad, everyone steals, and even Christians can compromise and begins to steal. After all, everyone does it. Using company’s time for your personal calls, internet… And you can of course make excuses that the manager is bad, and you are not paid enough. But where is the honor?

(Phil. 4:8) – thinking in which there is high morality and honor

VI. Peacefulness (v. 18)

If… a certain limitation. The fact is that a desire is one thing, and the extent to which this desire is possible is another thing. Indeed, we are limited and cannot plan the behavior of other people. It is really hard to pick a fight with such a person.

VII. Ability to forgive (vv. 19-21)

A. Not revenging (v. 19a)

Stop doing evil in return. Basically, we find reasons to pay evil for evil: if I do not intercede, it will become the norm. It is necessary to answer in such a way that they would not get accustomed to this. But it’s wrong!

When in the Bible did someone not take revenge on themselves? David to Shimei.

B. Trusting God’s judgment (v. 19b)

God is a righteous judge. When we take judgment into our own hands, we tell people that God’s righteous judgment is not good enough. We don’t trust God for such an important task. Our righteous judgment, is what people really need to be afraid of. But, looking at the Scripture, everywhere we find a call to seriously fear God’s righteous judgment. Could it be that non-Christians don’t fear of God, because of our unforgiveness, and vengeance that prevent them from understanding that they should fear the judgment of God?

(Heb. 10:28-31) “It is a fearful thing to fall into the hands of the living God.”

C. Doing good (v. 20)

Why should we collect burning coals? A quote from (Pr. 25:21-22), and the burning coal, a type of a burning conscience and condemnation that leads a person to either repentance or condemnation. When Christ does good, two thieves… one repents, other dies in rejection; Peter repents, Judas on feels sorry. Doing good does not guarantee one result, but it definitely becomes a watershed burning on the head.

A good example is Stephen – he is stoned and he prays for people’s salvation. I have already said that it is quite possible that these people ended up in the church, sooner or later. At least, we know one things, Saul, and whose feet they left their clothes, few years later became the great apostle for the Gospel. The prayer was answered!

D. Destroying evil (v. 21)

This means that the evil of you persecutor should not make you evil. If your enemy made you like him, he won. But, if you make your enemy like you, you have won!

The most powerful weapon is when you make a friend out of the enemy. Abraham Lincoln, US president once said: “The best way to destroy an enemy is to make him a friend.” 

(Tit. 2:9-10) – when a Christian in a situation where he is treated with evil, and he returns with good, his behavior makes the Gospel attractive, beautiful and delightful. And the sinner might be crushed by the Gospel; God might take away his heart of stone, and give him a new heart, the heart of love. It is over; the there is no enemy anymore!

The greatest victory over evil took place on the cross! The innocent Christ was crucified on the cross, the high priests moved by envy, and people, being angry that Jesus’ sermons condemned their sinful way of life, have crucified Him. 

But he prayed that the Father would forgive them. In dying, He acquired forgiveness for these people. And a few days later they repented in droves when Peter preached to the crowd on the day of Pentecost.

Today, you might have the evil in your heart and life, but God can destroy, with His goodness! This is the only way to clear you conscience and change your heart and mind! Repent today of your evil and sin, and God will forgive and give you new life!

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