Listen to your Dad
Brothers & SistersPastor Jerry Gillis - February 19, 2023
Community Group Study Notes
- Did you complete last week’s action step and/or mobilization challenge? If so, spend time discussing what you learned and what God did in and through you.
- Have someone in your group give a brief recap of Sunday’s message, highlighting the primary Scripture passages and main idea of the message.
- How did this message strengthen, confirm and/or correct your previous ideas about imitating Jesus and the example of our lives?
- Interact with this statement: “The power we receive from the Spirit isn’t to flex worldly muscle, it’s to show off the beauty and truth of Jesus.” Are you using the power of the Spirit for your glory or for God’s glory? How are you regularly using your gifts from the Spirit?
- What is the example of your life saying to the world? Consider: your behavior, your spending, your decision making, your relationships, and your thought life.
- Do you fully believe God can redeem your mistakes made when living for your personal glory rather than for His glory? Spend time as a group repenting and praying for Christ's power to move in you and through you.
At the end of each day this week, spend time journaling your actions, thoughts, and decisions made. Ask the Spirit to help you answer these questions:
- Did my behaviors match my words?
- Did I consider the kingdom of God when making decisions?
- Did reflect the fruit of the Spirit in my relationships?
- Was my life a powerful example of Jesus today, or a weak one?
Perform an act of service: identify a need in your workplace, neighborhood, school, place of recreation, etc. Complete an act of service individually, with your family, or with your community group. Consider: shoveling snow, going grocery shopping, performing a house project, running errands, etc. If you have an opportunity to pray with someone after completing the service opportunity, do so!
Good morning to everybody. So glad to see you. Whether you're here at this campus, or you are at one of our other campuses or watching us online, so glad that you're here. Thank you for being here. I'm a church guy. I love the church. I'm not just talking about the building or just the gathering, but I love the people of God. I love the people of God because Jesus died to establish this people, this new creation called the church. And I love the church. And I would remind us that the church is filled with brothers and sisters in the family of God. And that's what we've been looking at. But we also have to recognize some things sometimes about ourselves. That if we were being brutally honest, that what we see in the lives of the Corinthians is something that we see also in the church in the United States as well. I'm not talking about every place or every person or every leader, but it affects people that make up the churches of the United States and certainly leaders in the church of the United States. And just like they were dealing with in Corinth, they were dealing with division and arrogance and pride and kind of selfish pursuits, and even at times egregious sins, these things are also true in the American church as well, both in leaders at times and in the people that make up the churches at times. And so when the apostle Paul is writing to the Corinthians and he's talking to them about these things, he actually appeals to them on a number of levels. He's appealing to them not to walk in the flesh, not to walk worldly, but instead to walk filled with the spirit of God, to walk in step with the spirit of God, because ultimately, we can't mature through worldly means. That will only come by the work of the spirit in our hearts. And so Paul appeals to them significantly to do that. But in his appeal, he also appeals by his own example. We're going to be looking in 1 Corinthians chapter four today as we continue to work through this book. But I want you to notice what Paul says very, very starkly in 1 Corinthians 4:16: Therefore I urge you to imitate me. Did you hear what Paul just said? The apostle Paul said, "I want you to imitate me." Now, that may strike you as exceptionally bold. You may be thinking to yourself, "How? How could someone say, 'Imitate me?' That seems like that's maybe a little bit over the top, that that may be a little much for me. I just don't know if that's something that I could say. Maybe because he's the apostle Paul, he could say it, but I don't know if it's something I could say. But it just strikes me as a little bit bold. How could someone say, 'Imitate me?'" Well, Paul has appealed to them on the basis of his instruction in the gospel. He's appealed to them in terms of the correction that he's offered to them as well in writing and when he was there personally with them, but now he's adding something powerful to that mix to appeal to them, his own example. So he's appealed to them through instruction, he's appealed to them through correction, but he's also appealing to them through his own example. So what I wanna do is I want to ask the question that I just asked a moment ago: How could Paul ask them to imitate him? And I want to answer that question, because I don't want to just answer it for Paul. Because I think that ultimately, it's questions that we need to press into and understand a little bit because the power of example is true for all of us, not just for the apostle Paul. But let's answer this question from the text if we can. How could he ask them, the Corinthians, to imitate him? Well, the first reason is this: Because he was their spiritual father. I want you to look with me in 1 Corinthians 4:15-16. It says this: Even if you had 10,000 guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for in Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel. Therefore I urge you to imitate me. Maybe the first reason that Paul could say that he wanted the Corinthians to imitate him was because he was their spiritual father. Now, Paul has spent some time early on in his writing to the church at Corinth. He spent some time helping the Corinthians get a right perspective about teachers and leaders. We've talked about that over the last few weeks, if you've been tracking with us in our messages. If you haven't, I would encourage you to go back to understand the context of what Paul is saying when he begins writing to the church in Corinth. And he's trying to help them understand, because of the division, they're aligning themselves with different teachers and leaders. And then there's now some new teachers that we don't know, that aren't named, that are emerging in Corinth, that are teaching some weird stuff, and are communicating some weird doctrine. And Paul is saying, he's saying, "You know, I've been talking to you about rightsizing the idea of leaders and leadership, and I've been talking to you as brothers and sisters." And that's what he's been doing, right? He's been talking to them as brothers and sisters. It's 22 different times he says that through the course of the first letter to the Corinthians. And even now he kind of references in chapter number four, just a few verses before, what we're looking at now. Listen to what he says in verse number six. He says, "Now, brothers and sisters, I have applied these things to myself and Apollos for your benefit, so that you may learn from us the meaning of the saying, 'Do not go beyond what is written.' Then you will not be puffed up in being a follower of one of us over against the other." So he is reminding them what he's been talking to them about, about how they're getting puffed up in aligning themselves with Paul or Apollos or Peter or whomever, right? And he says, "I'm trying to help you understand, brothers and sisters, that this is not what you should be doing with your leaders. This is not helpful to you. You think that somehow you are enhancing your own spiritual maturity by aligning yourself with one of these people. You're not, and you're not helping them any either, by the way." And so Paul tries to give them a right-size understanding of that, but he starts to change the metaphor here in the verses that we just read, in verses 15 and 16. Instead of now talking about brothers and sisters, he talks about fathers and guardians. And it's an interesting play here because Paul is now helping them to understand something. He's been appealing to them as brothers and sisters, but he's going to amp up his appeal somewhat, because now he's talking about fathers and guardians. Now, what is exactly he talking about here? What does he mean by guardians? He said, "You may have 10,000 guardians in Christ, but you do not have many fathers." 10,000 guardians. What were these? Well, guardians were kind of employees at that time. And, you know, it'd be a combination of what we would look at now in modern day as a nanny or a tutor or a babysitter. Kind of a combination of that is what these guardians actually were. They would be in the family, not of the family specifically, but they weren't hired into the family to help in the development and the raising of the kids in a variety of different ways. Make sure they get to school on time and, you know, that they behave themselves and all of those kinds of things. But let's be honest, if you've ever had a babysitter that's worked for you, or you've ever had a nanny, I haven't, but whatever, if you've ever had something like that, right, they don't have as much skin in the game as you do 'cause you're a father or you're a mother, right? You're a parent. And as a parent, like, you've fully got skin in the game here. These are your kids. Guardians don't have the same level of skin in the game as parents do. And you and I have to understand that what Paul's doing here is he's reminding them of something. Even though he's taken this humble posture to say, "Hey, don't inflate me beyond what I should be inflated as a teacher or Apollos or Peter or whomever, and don't start aligning yourselves with us, causing division. That's not what you should do. We're not for that." Paul's not having anything to do with that. But because they were not being particularly responsive to Paul's overtures, Paul says, "I also wanna remind you of something though. Even though I'm not trying to enhance myself as some teacher and I'm walking out this humility, I need you to understand something. I'm your dad. I'm your spiritual father. And I'm vested in you as my spiritual children. And you might have 10,000 babysitters, you might have 10,000 guardians, you might have 10,000 nannies, but you only have one spiritual father in Christ." You see, Paul was who brought to them and introduced to them the gospel. He is the one who, as they responded, he saw, listen to this, he saw their birth. He was there for their being born into the family of God. And he began to nurture them and to raise them and to teach them and to instruct them. Now, he was giving them milk, not so much solid food because they couldn't handle it, and he says, "You can't even handle it now," right? But he is a spiritual father to them. And as a result, to some extent, they should look like him. To some extent. Because he's a spiritual father in their lives. Not exactly like him. They're going to be who they are and how God's designed them, but they're going to bear some of the characteristics of their spiritual father without question. Now, some of you're going, "Well, you know, I mean, I am I really a spiritual father or a spiritual mother to anybody?" Well, pause just a second. If you have actual biological kids, you are not just their earthly mom and dad, you are to be a spiritual father or mother. If you're a grandparent, you're not just a biological grandparent, you are to be a spiritual father or mother. You have friends that maybe you've influenced and you've helped lead to faith in Jesus Christ. You have a responsibility as a spiritual father or mother. See, all of us could fit into this category, and what we need to understand is this, is that the power of our example is going to be pronounced in that circumstance and that scenario. I mean, I have two sons, right? Edie and I have two sons. Baseball guys. Grew up playing baseball. Remember they were little, and they could hardly do anything. You know, half of them are out in the left field eating daisies and, you know, whatever else. But I used to tell my guys when they were really little, I would say, "Hey, you're playing, you know, you've got this name and, you know, this team that's on the front of your jersey, and that's awesome, and you better represent them well, but I wanna make sure you understand something. There's a name on the back of your jersey. That name is Gillis. There's some things that Gillises do, and there are things that Gillises do not do, because you're a Gillis. 'Cause I'm your dad, Edie's your mom, right? And you are going to bear some of the family resemblance of who we are and what we do." And so I would appeal to them as a father. And Paul is appealing to them as a spiritual father and talking about the responsibility of their example because of the example that he has set for them. Secondly, Paul can also ask them to imitate him because he loved them. This is really important. In fact, I want you to see how he opens this little section in verse number 14. He says, "I'm writing this not to shame you, but to warn you as my what? Dear children." I'm not writing this to shame you, but I'm writing it to you so that I can warn you as my dear children. You see, a few verses earlier in chapter number four, Paul actually got a little bit sarcastic with them. Now, he was doing it for a purpose. He was trying to snap them out of their lethargy because they have some teachers that had been in their midst that were teaching some bad doctrine. They were teaching them wrong things, teaching them inconsistent with what Paul was teaching them about the gospel. In fact, they may have been taking small things that Paul had talked about that he hadn't really fully expanded on yet, and they were taking those and they were extrapolating from that and taking them down places they shouldn't have been. Like, for instance, the idea that we would rule and reign with Jesus. And maybe they took that to mean, well, I rule and reign now, and I'm super special right now, or that we are a royal priesthood. And so well, I'm royal right now. I'm rich right now, and everybody should honor me, and I'm super powerful. Or I'm insanely wise, right? We've been given the mind of Christ. But they're saying, "Well, I've got this special, mystical wisdom that other people don't have." And they start going down those paths. And Paul actually gets a little bit sarcastic with them earlier in this chapter, and here's what he says. He says, "Already you have all you want! Already you've become rich! You've begun to reign, and that without us! How I wish that you really had begun to reign so that we also might reign with you! For it seems to me that God has put us apostles on display at the end of the procession, like those condemned to die in the arena. We've been made a spectacle to the whole universe, to angels as well as to human beings. We are fools for Christ, but you are so wise in Christ! We are weak, but you are strong! You are honored, we are dishonored!" See, what Paul's doing here is he's actually showing a little bit of sarcasm to them to help wake them up out of some of this, but then he reminds them, "I'm writing this to you not to shame you, but to warn you as dear children." That word for warning there is kind of the same word that we get our word admonish or admonition, right? It's the same idea. And in fact, Paul's doing what he says parents ought to do with their kids anyway. Remember what he says in Ephesians chapter six. He says, "Fathers, do not exasperate your children; instead, bring them up in the training and instruction, or admonition, of the Lord." In other words, that's what fathers do. That's what parents do. We're not going to exasperate our kids, but we are going to warn them when they are walking down a bad path. See, Paul loves them. He loves them. They're his spiritual children. And he loves them enough to discipline them. Parents that do not discipline their children do not show them love. I'm not talking about the form of discipline, I'm talking about discipline. Parents that don't discipline are not showing love because that's ultimately what God does for us. Paul actually talked about the idea of discipline when he was getting to the last part of this passage that we're looking at in 1 Corinthians four. In fact, he says this in verse 21. He says, "What do you prefer? Shall I come to you with a rod of discipline, or shall I come in love and with a gentle spirit?" He keeps appealing to them to change their ways, to come back to walking in the spirit as they first understood, instead of walking in the ways of the flesh and walking in the ways of the world. And he says, "Do you want me to come with a rod of discipline?" That was a picture of him spiritually coming in and having to discipline people while he's there, as opposed to them being responsive to what the spirit of God wants to do in shaping their lives. But see, this is what fathers do. This is what parents do. They actually love their children enough to discipline them. It's not talking about exasperation. I'm not talking here about abuse. I'm talking about discipline, helping them walk in the way that is right. I mean, the writer of Hebrews tells us this about how God operates with us: Have you completely forgotten this word of encouragement that addresses you as a father addresses his son? It says, "My son, do not make light of the Lord's discipline, and do not lose heart when he rebukes you, because the Lord disciplines the one he loves, and he chastens everyone he accepts as his son." He disciplines those he loves. Like, I don't go into the grocery store and discipline other people's kids when I see him acting up. I want to. The funniest part about that story is I don't go to the grocery store. Nonetheless, I just used that as an example. Like, you want to, but that's not my job, right? By the way, I'm a grandparent now. It's mom and dad's job on the discipline side. I'll just hand them back. Ooh, yeah. You know, now it's their job, right? That's what we have to understand. But parents have that responsibility. And doesn't it break your heart? And I know that I'm talking to moms and dads or grandparents in here who have children, who have maybe walked away from the manner in which they should be walking. And because of your great love for them, it's heartbreaking. And think about Paul as a spiritual father who's saying this to the church at Corinth. And he's talking about he loves them, but he loves them enough to discipline them. But when they don't respond, is he heartbroken? Of course he is heartbroken. Of course he is. In fact, about a year later, he wrote a second letter to the church at Corinth. And I want you to listen to what he says in 2 Corinthians chapter two. He says, "For I wrote you," talking about maybe the first letter, "For I wrote you out of great distress and anguish of heart and with many tears, not to grieve you, but to let you know the depth of my love for you." It's a heartbreaking thing when a spiritual father is seeing spiritual children not walking in the spirit. That's a heartbreaking thing. It's a heartbreaking thing for pastors or leaders who have been spiritual fathers to people, who've literally seen people come to Christ through their ministry, have been there for their birth, have nurtured them and fed them the Word, modeled for them as best they could about what it means to grow in Christ and what it means to develop in maturity, and then to see them walking in paths that are inconsistent with the way of Jesus. Those are heartbreaking things, and Paul was experiencing that, and he said he loved them. That's why he's asking them to imitate him, because he's setting that model for them. He's setting that example for how they should be to one another. That not only he was their spiritual father, but he loved them. Third, he also said, "You can imitate me," because he practiced what he preached. He practiced what he preached. Notice what the text says in verse number 17. He says, "For this reason I've sent to you Timothy, my son whom I love, who is faithful in the Lord. He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church." Notice what he says right there. Leave that for a second. My life agrees with what I teach. My life agrees with what I teach. That is challenging for us. That is a good reminder that Paul practiced what he preached. You see, they knew Paul because he had lived with them. He'd been there for a year and a half. He helped found the church. He'd been among them. He'd lived right there among them. They knew exactly what he taught. They knew exactly how he lived. And he's reminding them, "Hey, you've seen this. You've seen how I live, and you've seen what I taught, and by the way, even when I'm not with you, which is now, this is how I teach and live everywhere in every church." So as imperfect as that may be, because Paul certainly wasn't perfect, what you could say about Paul's life and teaching is that it was consistent. It was harmonious. And now he says, "I'm gonna give you another reminder 'cause I'm gonna send you Timothy." By the way, Timothy's already been to Corinth as well, so they knew Timothy. He wasn't brand new. He was sending somebody back there, and he said, "Timothy knows my way of life. And Timothy's actually going to live in front of you the way that I lived in front of you. And Timothy's gonna talk the way that I talked so that you're gonna be able to see this example again." Because what Paul understands as terribly difficult for the mission of God are hypocritical believers. It's painfully difficult for God, in the mission of God, to see his children talking this talk, but living this life. And instead, we are to be people of integrity whose talk and whose lives actually match up. You see, Jesus understands that, and he has seen that play out in spiritual leaders and in people. When he addressed religious leaders, remember what he said about the Pharisees in Matthew 23: Jesus said to the crowds and to his disciples: "The teachers of the law and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat. So you must be careful to do everything they tell you. But do not do what they do, for they do not practice what they preach. They tie up heavy, cumbersome loads and put them on other people's shoulders, but they themselves are not willing to lift a finger to move them. Everything they do is done for people to see." See, Jesus is talking about religious leaders of the day, and he's saying, "They do what they do for show. You need to listen to what they say, but don't act like them. Don't do what they do." See, Jesus can see into that, whether it's a leader or whether it's a member of a church. Jesus can see into all of that because the power of our example is powerful indeed.
- See, Jesus is talking about religious leaders of the day, and he's saying, "They do what they do for show. You need to listen to what they say, but don't act like them. Don't do what they do." See, Jesus can see into that, whether it's a leader or whether it's a member of a church. Jesus can see into all of that because the power of our example is powerful indeed. I read about a dad who pretty much every day would make his trek. He was within walking distance to the local bar and would make his trek to the bar to drink, and sometimes too much. But he was real careful to Warren, his young son. You never drink. You will not do this. So he would continue to go to the bar and tell his son not to drink. And his son was only, you know, three or four or five, whatever he was. And on one snowy night, the man is making his trek through the snow to the local bar, and he hears something. And he stops and he turns around and sees his son walking in his exact footprints one by one, which are gonna lead him to the same destination. And the man said in that moment, "I realized that the power of my example was far bigger than the power of my words." And that was it for him going to the bar. And good for him. You see, we've got to understand that Paul practiced what he preached, and therefore he said to them, "Imitate me." But another reason Paul could ask the Corinthians to imitate him is because Jesus was Paul's spiritual father. Jesus was Paul's spiritual father. I want you to follow here with me. It says in verse 15, "Even if you had 10,000 guardians in Christ, you do not have many fathers, for," listen to this, "In Christ Jesus I became your father through the gospel." And then verse 17: He will remind you of my way of life in Christ Jesus, which agrees with what I teach everywhere in every church. Paul wants to make sure that everybody knows that it is in Christ Jesus that the example for him that he's asking people to imitate and he's asking them to follow is because he has first been fathered, so to speak, by the Lord Jesus. Remember Paul on the road to Damascus was face-to-face with the resurrected Christ, even though he's seeing it in kind of a vision and those kinds of things. He heard the voice. And then Paul reminds us that the gospel that he preached was not given to him by any human being. It was given to him by revelation of who? The resurrected Christ. So he had spent time with Jesus. He knew Jesus. Jesus had taught him about his way of life, had taught him about how Jesus himself had lived, and the expectation he had for Paul, and the power that he would give Paul to be able to do that. But the Corinthians had never seen Jesus. They'd only seen Paul. That's why Paul, a little bit later on in the letter, here's what he says in 11:1: Follow my example, as I follow the example of Christ. See, Paul's making that connection. He's saying, "I want you to imitate me because I am imitating Jesus." He's not just saying, "Imitate me because it's me." He's saying, "Imitate me because it's Jesus." And what Paul had done when he lived among them is he was living out the truth of Jesus' life. He was living out the teaching of Jesus. In fact, if you back up a few verses in chapter four, notice what Paul says. After he's a little sarcastic with them, he says this: To this very hour we go hungry and thirsty. We're in rags, we are brutally treated, we are homeless. We work hard with our own hands. Listen to what he says here: When we are cursed, we bless; when we are persecuted, we endure it; when we are slandered, we answer kindly. We have become the scum of the earth, the garbage of the world, right up to this moment. Do you know what Paul's saying there? He's saying, "This is how Jesus lived. This is therefore how we live." And even though Jesus was hung on a cross and treated as garbage to be taken out outside of the city, we know that we too may be treated that way because of his life in us, because of his example to us. We know that that may happen for us as well. But instead of responding the way the world responds, we respond based on the life of Jesus that is within us. Paul is actually helping us to understand that his example to them is because of Jesus. But the last reason that Paul could say this is because he had power. When he said to imitate me, it was because he has power. Look in verses 18 through 20: Some of you have become arrogant, as if I were not coming to you. But I will come to you very soon, if the Lord is willing, and then I will find out not only how these arrogant people are talking, but what power they have. For the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power. What a statement. You see, what was happening here is that Paul had been away for a while, and some of the emerging teachers in Corinth had become a little bit arrogant. Now they're doing whatever they want to do, right? Paul's not coming back, so they can just do whatever they want to do, and arrogance had set in. But Paul reminds them, "I very well may be coming back, if the Lord allows, and then I'm gonna find out about you people because the kingdom of God is not a matter of talk but of power." Now, what is Paul saying here? Is he saying that he wants to come back and challenge them to like a wizard fight of who can do the most tricks? That's not what he's talking about. You see, for Paul, what they were doing was empty talk. But for Paul, he communicated the gospel, and he realizes the gospel is a witness to the glory of who Jesus is. And he's not ashamed of the gospel because it has the power of salvation to everyone who hears and believes. That's the kind of power the gospel has. He also knows that his life is a witness to the life of Jesus. There is the power of the gospel witness and the power of a life that backs that truth all put together. That they didn't have, these emerging teachers in Corinth, they didn't have that. All they had was talk. That's all they had. Paul says, "The kingdom of God is not a matter of just talk, it's a matter of power." If we're trying to impress people with our eloquence or our coolness, or how sharp we are or how intelligent we are, or how funny we are. The kingdom of God is a matter not just of talk, but of power. In other words, he could come and say, "Who's been regenerated by the message that you have proclaimed, which is not even the gospel?" No one. You've maybe inspired some people. You've maybe attracted some followers who like to attend to a fad. You maybe have tickled some ears because they are like, "Oh, we like him. He's really fluent in speech. He's really eloquent. He's got a golden tongue. Da, da, da." That may be all going on, but let me see, from an eternal perspective, what has been transformed. The kingdom of God is not a matter of just talk, it's a matter of power. And the gospel itself has inherent power. But Paul didn't live for the world's applause. Paul didn't live for fame. Paul lived for the glory of the king and his kingdom. And because of that, that meant that he wasn't chasing the same routes that everybody else was chasing. He wasn't clout chasing, he wasn't fame chasing, he wasn't likes chasing. He was simply chasing after the kingdom and what would transform people's lives. And the power that Paul received and the power that Paul had was not in order to flex worldly muscle. It was for the sake of the kingdom of God and to show off Jesus. That was the point of the power. So I would say this. In light of all of this, Paul had real reasons why he could say to them, "Imitate me." But maybe let's turn the corner and ask some questions about us. And maybe you could just jot this idea down. Our lives are worthy of imitation only when they look like Jesus. Our lives are worthy of imitation only when they look like Jesus. So let me ask a question. To everybody who is watching, wherever you are, let me ask a question. What is the power of your example? I mean, make it tangible. Let's say you were in a store window with a sign that says "Christian." Or you're a product on Amazon that someone can scroll through and see that there they are. Oh, that's a Christian. And then you get mocked. You show up to this place and you're unwrapped, and then people experience you. Do they experience Jesus? Do they experience Jesus? Or is the kingdom you are living in one of talk but not of power? What kind of example are you? Does the example of your life look like Jesus? Because ultimately, that's the only way that we can actually say to people around us, who haven't met Jesus or who haven't seen Jesus, for them to be able to see him, in you and in me. And for us, when people are brand new, maybe, to believing and in faith, and they're like, "I just don't know how to live," and you can say, "Live like me because I'm endeavoring to live like Jesus." So that feels bold, that feels like a big statement. Well, until we get to that place in our maturity, until we get to that place, we are not going to be very successful in the mission that God has given us for every man, woman, and child. Because they need to see it. They need to see us. They need to see Jesus in us. But so often we never see the fruit of that because there are so many weeds covering the ground. I mean, if we started asking questions about our own example, not just the... I mean, start in your own home. The example that you are providing to your own kids or to your grandkids or to your nieces or to your nephews or to your brothers or to your sisters, to your spouse, to your friends, to your coworkers. What does that look like? Is your life worth emulating at all? And I'm not just talking about, listen, where you're going, "Well, you know, I've been really successful in business, or, you know, I've really done some things really well or whatever." I'm talking about eternally. I'm not talking about power as the world describes power. I'm talking about, are our lives worthy of imitation because they look like Jesus? What do people see when they see you in a time of trouble? Where do they see you turn? What do they see you do in a time of trouble? Do they see you turn to distraction or substances or whatever, or do they see you actually turn to Jesus and receive from him because you recognized God's sovereignty, that you know that this, like other things, will shape you more into his image? And though you may not like it at the time, you are receiving it from his good hand to shape your own life, to figure out how you can put him on display in the midst of it. What does your bank account say about your priorities? What does it say? If you were just to look through it, what does it say about the example you are giving? If your kids or if your friends were able to look into this, what would it say about you and I? What does our lives and our examples say when we come to big decisions in our lives? It's oftentimes that we come to big decisions, and people that call themselves followers of Jesus just forget that Jesus exists when they're making this big decision. Well, I got, you know, I got this opportunity for a job with way more money. Okay, that may be what Jesus wants, and it may not be what Jesus wants. Have you talked to him? Or did you just make a decision based on money or just based on comfort or just based on weather or based on politics? What does your decision actually find its meaning in? Is it seeking first the kingdom of God and his righteousness, or is it something different than that? What is the power of our example and our behavior? Does our behavior match our words? We talk about being a people who want to demonstrate the love and grace and truth of who Jesus is, but do our lives demonstrate love and grace and truth? Because you and I have both met people who have claimed to follow Jesus who loves and have been filled with hate. What about our embrace of the family of God? What does that say about our example? How we embrace the family of God. Do we look at our brothers and sisters as an afterthought, that we can just be consumers, and we don't have to show up for our brothers and sisters, we don't have to be there for our brothers and sisters? We can just check in and check out and get a little word on Sunday, and it makes my life a little bit better. And it's really just about us. What does our example say about whether or not we consider this to be the family of God and these are brothers and sisters that we love and that we serve? What does it say about our life, our example by our lives? Are known by love? Are we known by the fruit of the spirit of God? Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, gentleness, faithfulness, goodness, self-control. Are we known by those things, or are we known by different things? Because no matter what we do, the only success we'll have is in allowing the life of God in us, by his spirit, that magnifies Jesus and shows the world Jesus, to live out of us. That's the only way that we make a dent in the world that we live in, because worldly means is not going to get us there. Do our lives have enough integrity of what we say and who we are that we could actually correct a brother or sister who is walking astray? Or do we just go, "Well, you know, I mean, who am I to say anything?" Listen, it's true, we can't have a tree growing out of our face when we're trying to remove a speck in our brother or sister's eye. Jesus told us that. But how about we don't live with a tree growing out of our face? How about we actually live with integrity where we could say to our brother and sister, "Now, as Galatians says, when we see a brother or sister in sin, we who are spiritual should restore them gently so that we too may not be tempted, right?" This isn't about being better or worse. We have to be corrected sometimes. Others have to be corrected sometimes. But do we have lives that actually would give us the ability to be able to do that? What about the purpose that we have? What's the example of our very existence, our very purpose? Do people look at us and sense that our purpose is that we are sent ambassadors of Jesus to demonstrate who he is and what he said in the world that we live in, or do they think that our purpose is just like everybody else's? Work until a certain age, retire, move somewhere sunny, and do nothing, which is just another way to say, "Waste your life." What do people see when they see us by the power of our example? There's so much more we could say about this, but maybe the question is this: Is your example powerless? Is it weak? Does it need to grow? I say this to us, not to shame us, but because I love you.
- [Congregation Member] Amen.
- Not to shame you, not to shame me, but because we need God to shape us in such a way that we are formed by his spirit in real, mature, godly ways.