People are watching a Christian's actions. This is why Paul states in Philippians 1:27, "Only conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ; so that whether I come and see you or remain absent, I may hear of you that you are standing firm in one spirit, with one mind striving together for the faith of the gospel." A Christian must behave in a manner that would not bring shame on the Gospel of Christ. Unfortunately, outsiders to the church, as well as hard-hearted Christians, are looking for excuses to deny the faith. If there is a poor example among God's people, unbelievers will use this as a stumbling block to be unfaithful. As conduct can be a negative influence, it can also be a positive influence. The Hebrew writer recalls this influence in Hebrews 13:7, "Remember those who led you, who spoke the word of God to you; and considering the result of their conduct, imitate their faith." The conduct of a Christian is a powerful unspoken message to the world.
It is clear that Christians need to be demonstrating love to others. Being loving is the greatest of all behaviors. Jesus was emphasizing this point while He was on earth in John 13:34-35, "A new commandment I give to you, that you love one another, even as I have loved you, that you also love one another. By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you have love for one another." Sometimes the amount of love within the community of Christ will be the foundational judge for numerous people because, if there is a lack of love among one another in the church, outsiders will consider the faith of the community to be inauthentic.
Paul knew that love for one another would cover the majority of ethical situations in the world. In Romans 13:8-10, the Bible condenses the moral elements of the Ten Commandments down into the foundational act of love. There is little need for a long list of do's and do not's if there is a genuine love for one another. The text states: "Owe nothing to anyone except to love one another; for he who loves his neighbor has fulfilled the law. For this, 'You shall not commit adulter, You shall not murder, You shall not steal, You shall not steal, You shall not covet,' and if there is any other commandment, it is summed up in this saying, 'You shall love your neighbor as yourself.' Love does no wrong to a neighbor; love therefore is the fulfillment of the law."
The church is the community of those who have responded to the love of God and who demonstrate that love by their love for one another and for all. Just like Christ's loving us opened our hearts to loving others, Christians can model this progression in loving others first as others see our sacrificial example.
Modeling love is the most important work that a Christian could do. "But now abide faith, hope, love, these three; but the greatest of these is love." (1 Corinthians 13:13). 304 Hassell St., PO Box 33, Waynesboro, TN 38485.
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