Consider a few scriptures to start with:
James 2:14: What good is it, my brothers, if a man claims to have faith but has no deeds? Can such faith save him?
If we think about it, there is a contrast between the Old (OT) and New Testament (NT) that we should all consider. In the OT, God handled things in a different way. If we look at him in the Father role, we can see how different He handled things. In the OT, the Father was a “Do as I say!” Father. Follow the rules and I will reward you, don’t and you will be punished. That was it, no real relationship, no grace. God made a commandment about murder, and yet, He killed many people, cities full of people. He killed a man doing the job God gave him to do, He killed him for touching the Ark of the Covenant. God made a commandment about stealing and yet, He took entire countries from those living there. Kind of like a “do as I say, not as I do” father. He was the King and claimed that right. You couldn’t even enter His home, the temple, without following a bunch of rituals. He didn’t care how nice you were to the people before you came in, He just wanted to make sure you followed what He told you to do. All that time that Moses gave him, all the honor, all the sacrifice, and He didn’t let him enter the Promised land because of one incident. He was the Father, what He said went, and what He did, well, live with it.
Consider this, in the OT, the following scriptures reference love of God: Deut 6:5, 7:9, 7:12, 10:12, 11:1, 11:13, 13:3, 30:6; Joshua 22:5, 23:11; 1 King 8:23 and a few more. And the ones that tell you to love your neighbor: Lev 19:18, 34.
Then there is the God of the NT and the way He handled things. This Father, He was a loving Father, a Father of relationship, a giving Father. He was a Father that lead by example through Jesus. Now He says, follow me and I will reward you. He had abundant Grace. The Father lived those commandments. He was the King that gave up that right and became a servant. He welcomed you into His home just as you are. He issued the greatest commandments of all. First He said, to love Him. That message didn’t change at all from the Old to the New Testament. But you can’t just love the Father anymore, you HAVE to love and accept the Son, Jesus. Then the second commandment which was about our neighbors. There are 11 scriptures with just love and neighbor in them. There are 23 that have love one another in them. But if you look at the NT as a whole, there really isn’t any more prominent message than love God/Jesus and love your neighbor, and show it and tell it.
Some of us might just miss a large chunk of the NT. The main point to the NT. We have to be careful not to miss everything that Jesus represented, taught, and died for. God wasn’t about God in the NT. Jesus wasn’t about Jesus in the NT. Everything that was done was for someone else. If we miss that, we will be saved, we may help save others, but we will miss exactly what Jesus wanted us to get. Consider this, the devil knows and believes in Jesus. In a way, the devil has “faith,” so what separates us from him – works. Living a life that shows who our first Love is.
Consider these scriptures:
1 Timothy 4:11-12: 11Command and teach these things. 12Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.
Phillipians 3:15-17: 15All of us who are mature should take such a view of things. And if on some point you think differently, that too God will make clear to you. 16Only let us live up to what we have already attained. 17Join with others in following my example, brothers, and take note of those who live according to the pattern we gave you.
John 13:12-15: 12When he had finished washing their feet, he put on his clothes and returned to his place. “Do you understand what I have done for you?” he asked them. 13“You call me ‘Teacher’ and ‘Lord,’ and rightly so, for that is what I am. 14Now that I, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also should wash one another’s feet. 15I have set you an example that you should do as I have done for you.
Do you get it? One of the most important things that we are to learn as we grow to become mature Christians is to be loving to others? Putting other’s above ourselves? thinking of others before ourselves?
2 Thessalonians 1:3: 3We ought always to thank God for you, brothers, and rightly so, because your faith is growing more and more, and the love every one of you has for each other is increasing.
Are we imitators of Christ? Do we lead in the way that Christ lead? Are we last or first in our house? Do we give before we take, or take before we give? do we have the OT mentality (do as I say, not as I do) or the NT (do as I say and as I do for you)? If any of those answers are no, then you know what, we really can’t say that we are Christians (Christ-like). If we can’t be like that, then other Christians probably shouldn’t “hang out” with us either, that’s what the Bible says, look into it. So what are we left with? The world.
A true Christian shows by the way they live.
1 John 4:6-13: 6We are from God, and whoever knows God listens to us; but whoever is not from God does not listen to us. This is how we recognize the Spirit[a] of truth and the spirit of falsehood. 7Dear friends, let us love one another, for love comes from God. Everyone who loves has been born of God and knows God. 8Whoever does not love does not know God, because God is love.9This is how God showed his love among us: He sent his one and only Son[b] into the world that we might live through him. 10This is love: not that we loved God, but that he loved us and sent his Son as an atoning sacrifice for[c] our sins. 11Dear friends, since God so loved us, we also ought to love one another. 12No one has ever seen God; but if we love one another, God lives in us and his love is made complete in us. 13We know that we live in him and he in us, because he has given us of his Spirit.
That’s the whole point of the fruit of the Spirit. Here’s a quote from Max Lucado’s book, When God Whispers Your Name:
LOVE – No occasion justifies hatred; no injustice warrants bitterness. Love God and what God loves.
JOY – I will refuse to see people as anything less than human beings, created by God.
PEACE – I will live forgiven so that I may live.
PATIENCE – Instead of cursing the one who takes my place, I”ll invite him to do so.
KINDNESS – I will be kind to the poor, for they are alone. Kind to the rich, for they are afraid. And kind to the unkind, for such is how God has treated me.
GOODNESS – I will be overlooked before I will boast. I will confess before I will accuse.
FAITHFULNESS – Today, I will keep my promises. My friends and family will not question my love. And my children will know I am here for them.
GENTLENESS – Nothing is won by force. I choose to be gentle. If I raise my voice may it be only in praise. If I clench my fist, may it be only in prayer. If I make a demand, may it be only of myself.
SELF-CONTROL – I choose self-control. Only God will influence me. Only Christ will teach me.
Remember, we are surrounded by children. We are surrounded by non-Christians. We are surrounded by people watching us to see if they truly want to be a Christian or not. We are surrounded by eyes looking for what this Jesus Christ person is really all about. How are we representing Him?
It’s really time for us to stop and look hard at how the people around us are being treated by their example of Jesus that they have in us. It’s time for us to step up to the plate and quit playing Christian and BE one. It’s time for us to mature, move up, become more for God than someone who can recite scriptures. Start living it. And the first place to start, is right at home. Become a little more thoughtful, a little more considerate, a little more helpful and kind. Become someone who puts everyone else above ourselves. And you know what, if we really study and put into actions our scriptures, we will find that as Christian members of our household, members of the workforce, as husbands and wives, as fathers and mothers, as children and siblings, as men and women, we are required to be last. Especially the husbands, fathers, and men, as they are specifically called to be like Christ is to the church. We are last, we don’t deserve anything. We are to be last, and when we become last, you know what?
Mark 9:35: Sitting down, Jesus called the Twelve and said, “If anyone wants to be first, he must be the very last, and the servant of all.”
There we have the bottom line. We know what the scriptures says. We know what Christ has called us to do. No one will be able to give us full honor, fully submit to, fully trust, or fully respect someone who goes against and lives a life contrary to what our God, our Father, our Saviour, and our Spirit tells us is right. We have the talk down, now is the time to start walking the walk. By our walk, others will know, they will have the confidence to honor, trust, and submit to us when the occasion calls for it.
They will know so many things because they will see it. They will know that we are continually growing in the Lord. They will know that we are living in the footsteps of Jesus. They will know that we are lead by the Spirit.
We already know that person is inside of us, we just need to let them come out!