The Divine Prescription For Stature
The normal aversion to being despised and lightly regarded or held in contempt makes "status seekers" of people whose ideas of values are confused. We need to learn what is really valuable. Paul, by the guidance of God's Holy Spirit, wrote to Titus to "Let no man despise thee." (Titus 2:15) And to Timothy he wrote, "Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an ensample to them that believe, in word, in manner of life, in love, in faith, in purity." (1 Tim. 4:12) Here the apostle outlines the course to be followed in order that no one can properly despise you.
Be Thou An Example
The gospel "is the power of God unto salvation" Rom. 1:16); but the power of God can be hindered by the unrighteousness of the advocates of truth. It is not enough for the gospel preacher to merely "preach the word"; he must be an example. Hindering the truth by bad example is no small matter, "for the wrath of God is revealed from heaven against all ungodliness and unrighteousness of men, who hinder the truth in unrighteousness." (Rom. 1:18) To have the respect of God and all worthy men one must be an example in the right things.
The dreadful importance of what we say is not realized. Jesus said, "For by thy words thou shalt be justified, and by thy words thou shalt be condemned." (Matt. 12:37)
Paul wrote to the Ephesians requiring them to speak the truth. "Wherefore, putting away falsehood, speak ye truth each one with his neighbor." (Eph. 4:25) Telling a lie, small, medium or big is a serious thing.
The point has been reached that little confidence can be put in the words of many men in high office. One day, with solemn countenance and tones of voice which ring with sincerity, they tell us one thing and a few days later with no admission of error or explanation they tell us the exact opposite. But of more moment than this breakdown in truthfulness in civil officials is the practical adoption of the doctrine of "mental reservation" among members of the church. God said "speak ye truth." A person either speaks the truth or he disobeys God. There is no twilight zone or gray area in which the Christian is permitted to operate. The God of heaven takes note of the character of our words and so do men.
Manner Of Life
To have the respect of God and decent people one must constantly strive to let his "manner of life be worthy of the gospel of Christ." (Phil. 1:27) The Christian must be conscious of the fact that the behaviour of the child of God is to be regulated by the things written by the apostles; not by worldly standards. (1 Tim. 3:14, 15) Improper conformity is one of the curses of our era. Many church members have become obsessed with a driving urge to conform to the world. They are neurospasts of Society, mere puppets moved by strings. The lesson of Romans 12:2 needs to be learned and constantly reviewed, "And be not conformed to this world: but be ye transformed by the renewing of your mind...."
Love must be exemplified in the life of every Christian. Lust is not love, even though novelists and motion picture producers have prostituted the word to that meaning so long that, in general, lust is what is thought of when the word "love" is used. The love demonstrated by God and required of men is not to be identified as lust. Another grave disservice to society has been rendered by some preachers preaching a "leave everybody alone" sort of concept of love which has identified love in the minds of many as a back slapping prompter sort of thing. There are preachers who rebel at this sort of preaching and talk about "preaching love" in a tone of voice which suggests that there is something wrong with a preacher who would preach on such a subject. Yes, we need to preach on "love," but first we need to learn from the Bible what love is and not only do we need to preach on love but we need to practice it. All that we do is to be done in love. (1 Cor. 16:13) The person who is interested in being an example in love — letting all he does be done in love — will carefully examine his actions in the light of 1 Cor. 13:4-7.
The Christian, and in a special way, the gospel preacher, has the responsibility of setting an example of faithfulness. When one is faithful to the Lord by discharging the duties the Lord has imposed, that one is an example "in faith." It is not a matter of "doing as I say and not as I do." We should recognize that we can only "speak with authority" when our faithfulness backs up our preaching.
Those who were formerly accounted as sound and faithful gospel preachers among us, but who were sidetracked on a road of lust, and now are reprobate concerning the faith, would never have come to their present dismal state had they "kept their heart with all diligence" The imperative need of a pure heart as a pre-requisite to a pure example cannot be overemphasized, The divinely designed mental diet should early be learned and frequently meditated upon. "And whatsoever things are true, whatsoever things are honorable, whatsoever things are just, whatsoever things are pure, whatsoever things are lovely, whatsoever things are of good report.... Think on these things." (Phil. 4:8)
It is out of the abundance of the heart that the mouth speaketh. (Matt. 12:34) And it is out of the heart, "The issues of life" proceed. A pure heart guarantees pure speech and conduct.
Rather than seeking "status" all need to strive to "stand fast in the faith," behave like adults, be strong and let all actions be motivated by love.
417 Groesbeck, Lufkin, Texas