Friday, December 23, 2016

Be The Example

"Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity."
I Timothy 4:12
(KJV)


Today, I heard some disparaging news.
It really has nothing in the world to do with me, on a personal level.
But, boy, did it affect me.
I can't seem to shake it off.
It has to do with a lowering of standards, of sorts, and, if you have been reading what I write,
or if you know me at all, you already know that things like that always bother me.

When I first heard the news, my first impulse was to jump on the judging bandwagon.
I felt like going to this person's website, clicking on their "contact" page,
and giving them a harsh written scolding.
I even composed a bit of it in my mind.
Shamefully, it went something like this.

"Dear _______________,
How on earth could you?
You profess to be a Christian.
Have you forgotten what that means?
How could you announce such despicable news?
How could you flash such a picture for the whole world to see?
How could you be so flagrant?
So blatant?
So unashamed?
Don't you know there are people who look up to you,
who value your opinions, who mimic you?
Do you realize that when people see you and what you've done,
and they see Jesus' name attached to your name,
they will think these wrongdoings are okay with Him?"

I think that is the part that hurts me the most.
It is not so much that I care much about what this person does in their personal life.
It is really none of my business.....not a drop.

The part that troubles me....irritates me....downright vexes me....is this.
This person openly professes to be a follower of Jesus Christ.
They move in Christian circles.
They "minister" in Christian churches.
And, I can tell you with Bible-backed certainty, that what they did,
is in total opposition of what Jesus stands for.

I sat there, laptop on lap, fingers on keys, staring at their website,
"fixin' to" (as they say in the south) lower the boom, let 'em have it,
and speak my over-zealous mind,

I felt justified in my righteous indignation.
That is, until I heard His voice.

"It is not up to you to correct this person.
You are not the judge."

Whew!
Boy, was I put in my place.
Humbled beyond words.

He is right.
He always is.
He is righteousness personified.
He is the way.
He is the truth.
He is the life.

I could send that letter....that sanctimonious lecture of rebuke and admonishment that I was so carefully composing in my mind.
I could type it, hit the "send" key, and it would be on its way to its inbox destination.
Scripturally, my viewpoint is right....spot on, and, to be honest, I think even this person would know in their heart that what I am saying is true.

But, is it really my place?
Do I really have the right?
To rake someone else over the coals....to lay down God's law to them?

God continued to speak to me, letting me know that He knows they are doing wrong.
He is aware.
And He will deal with it.
I don't have to.
What a relief!

As I pondered how much this person has let me, and who knows how many others, down,
and how hypocritical it is for them to continue to maintain a Christian profession
while their conduct belies their claim,
I could hear my dear mother's voice speaking a phrase I have heard all my life.

When Mom would find that I was disappointed in someone else's behavior,
when I couldn't seem to find a role model I could really feel I wanted to follow,
when it seemed like the whole world was turning away from God and His holiness...
Mom would say,
"Cheryl, Bro. Wilson used to tell us,
if you want to see an example, BE an example."

Bro. Wilson was an old-time minister of the Gospel.
He and his wife came and spent two weeks in our home when I was a baby.
Mom said he used to call me "tinker-tot".
I've heard her say so many times that she cried and cried the day they left.
Having them stay with us, enjoying that sweet fellowship, had meant the world to Mom and Dad,
and it felt to them like a piece of Heaven came into our home while they were there.
They truly lived out an example of Christianity.

On a side note, a funny story she used to tell about Bro. Wilson is that each morning,
she would get up and make a big breakfast, including old-timey, country gravy.
Mom's gravy was delicious...it just never seemed to have the same consistency.
One time, it may turn out a bit thin....another, it may come out on the thicker side.
She said, every time she would put the gravy on the table and say,
"I'm sorry, it looks like my gravy is too thin",
Bro. Wilson would reply, in his slow, drawling way, "I like thin gravy."
If she said, "My gravy is too thick today", he would say, "I like thick gravy."
The man was humble, easy to please, and slow to anger.
His kind are a vanishing breed, sad to say.

"If you want to see an example, BE an example."

I don't know about you, but I long to see people who are living, breathing examples of what Jesus would be should He walk upon the earth in our modern times.
Someone who is true to what they profess.
Someone who will take a stand for Godliness and Biblical teaching and who will not back down,
will not crumble to pressure, and will not cave to intimidation.
I yearn to see Jesus lived out and exemplified.

So, what should we do when we can't seem to find this?
Should we go around straightening everyone else out?
Should we make it a point to go out of our way to correct their errant behavior?
Should we allow our righteous indignation to take over while we "slam" them with the truth?
Or should we mind our own business,
"work out our own salvation with fear and trembling" as Philippians 2;12 instructs,
leave everyone else with the God-given responsibility of working out their own,
and simply BE the person we long to see?

As we see the blatancy of sin, the promotion of evil, and the glamorization of unGodliness in our modern world, and, yes, even in the modern church world, we have a choice to make.
We can sit down in despair, become discouraged, and wallow in hopelessness,
or we can rise up from the ashes, be the example, and spread the light and hope of Jesus Christ.

Instead of judging our brothers and sisters, we could choose instead to diligently pray for them.
Instead of lowering our personal standards beneath what the Bible teaches in order to make a compromise and conform to "what everyone else seems to be doing", we could make the choice to lovingly stand firm and hold God's true position in our personal lives,
quietly, meekly, and consistently showing the way.

We are not responsible for what anyone else does, nor is it our job to follow behind them and correct them when they stray.
We will not give an account on Judgment Day of anyone else's behavior.
We will stand there alone...just us and God...and He will look over the record of our individual lives.
Aren't you thankful that you are not responsible for anyone else's actions?
I am.
I do well to keep myself in line and don't do a very good job at even that.

What do you wish to see in others?
More love?
More compassion?
A higher moral standard?
A nicer attitude?
More patience?
More giving, less taking?
A kind spirit?
Humility?
Consistency?
Gentleness?
Less judging?
More modesty, less exposed flesh?
A servant's heart?
A pleasant, smiling countenance?
Hospitality?
Generosity?
Benevolence?

When you look around, are you unable to find the qualities you seek?

Why not BE the way you wish others would be?
Why not take the initiative and be the one to lead by example?

If you want to see more love in others, show the love you wish you were being shown.
If you wish others were more compassionate, reach out with unselfish arms.
"Rejoice with them that do rejoice, and weep with them that weep."  (Romans 12:15)
Empathize.
Sympathize.
Be true to your spouse...not just physically, but mentally.
Isn't that the standard Jesus established?
"But I say unto you, That whosoever looketh on a woman to lust after her hath committed adultery with her already in his heart."
Matthew 5:28
Lust in the mind is no more righteous than lust carried out.
Not my words, His.
Hold and live out a high standard of holiness in your everyday life.
Be as honest with others as you wish they were with you.
Be genuine and sincere...never phony.
You know how much it bothers you to be treated rudely,
so do the opposite when dealing with others.
Bear with them...their faults, their discrepancies, their mistakes,
with the same level of respect you long to be shown.
Initiate the conversation.
Smile.
Be friendly.
Be approachable, available, and accessible to those who need you.
Be nice, regardless.
You will walk away a winner!
Be patient.
Offer grace to others.
Hasn't it been lavishly bestowed upon us all?
Things come up and happen unexpectedly.
Allow for others not moving as quickly or as competently or as efficiently as you do.
Will yourself to wait...and be nice while waiting.
Give cheerfully, unreservedly, unbegrudgingly, happily, and with all your heart.
Give, until it hurts.
The worst kind of "giving pain" still makes you feel great.
"...remember the words of the Lord Jesus, how He said,
it is more blessed to give than to receive."
Acts 20:35
There are so many people in need.
It doesn't take long to find them.
Donate all of your extra winter coats, keeping one for your own use.
"He answereth and saith unto them, He that hath two coats, let him impart to him that hath none; and he that hath meat, let him do likewise."
Luke 3:11
How many coats can you actually wear at one time?
Give away your extra gloves, mittens, scarves, socks, sweaters, and blankets to the homeless.
When yours wear out, God will bless you with what you need when you need it.

How can we say we possess the love of God when there are piles of these excess items lying around
collecting dust, and there are so many who are freezing and have none?

"Hereby perceive we the love of God, because He laid down His life for us: and we ought to lay down our lives for the brethren.
But whoso hath this world's good, and seeth his brother have need, and shutteth up his bowels of compassion from him, how dwelleth the love of God in him?
My little children, let us not love in word, neither in tongue; but in deed and in truth."
I John 3:16-18

Remember that time someone went out of their way for you?
When you were so surprised and humbled and touched by their consideration of you?
Do that....for someone else.
Be considerate of the feelings of others.
Think before you speak.
Try to make someone else's day.
Treat others with tenderness and graciousness....like Jesus would.
"Be of the same mind one toward another. Mind not high things, but condescend to men of low estate. Be not wise in your own conceits."
Romans 12:16
"For whosoever exalteth himself shall be abased; and he that humbleth himself shall be exalted."
Luke 3:11
Humbleness is not a sign of weakness.
It is the epitome of strength.
Be content to let someone else lead.
Open your mind to learn from a child.
They have much more wisdom than they are ever given credit for having.

"And Jesus called a little child unto Him, and set him in the midst of them,
And said, Verily I say unto you, Except ye be converted, and become as little children, ye shall not enter into the kingdom of heaven."
Matthew 18:2,3

Be the person you say you are.
The first word in Christian is Christ.
Are we really living out our lives the way He lived His?
Be a person others can count on...
to faithfully pray, to do the right thing even when no one else is around,
to keep your word, to serve God and do His will, whatever the cost.
Be the same....all the time...to all...regardless of how popular or unpopular they are,
or how much they can or cannot do for you in return.
"Who can have compassion on the ignorant, and on them that are out of the way; for that he himself also is compassed with infirmity."
Hebrews 5:2
Reach out to those who you know will never be able to pay you back.
"Then said He also to him that bade Him, When thou makest a dinner or a supper, call not thy friends, nor thy brethren, neither thy kinsmen, nor thy rich neighbours; lest they also bid thee again, and a recompence be made thee.
But when thou makest a feast, call the poor, the maimed, the lame, the blind:
And thou shalt be blessed; for they cannot recompense thee: for thou shalt be recompensed at the resurrection of the just."
Luke 14:12-14

Don't look down on anyone or think they are less than you,
even those who seem to be completely compromising the Bible and Christian faith.
While observing others, always remember, "but for the grace of God, there go I."
Be humble, and acknowledge your total dependence upon Him.
Every, single one of us is subject to fall.
Just because we haven't lowered the Biblical standard of truth does not mean we won't succumb to the pressure, at some point.
I truly hope not, but we need to remember that every one of us lives in a human, subject-to-temptation body in a fallen world.
We may think we are ever-so-sanctified, but we are not yet glorified,
and none of us is above the propensity of reproach.
"Wherefore let him that thinketh he standeth take heed lest he fall."
I Corinthians 10:12
Just because we are not battling the horrors of addiction today, doesn't mean we haven't been there in the past or that we won't find ourselves struggling in the future.
As God so clearly reminded me, we really do not have the right to judge.
"Judge not, that ye be not judged.
For with what judgment ye judge, ye shall be judged: and with what measure ye mete, it shall be measured to you again."
Matthew 7:1,2
Always remember every person out there bears their own burden,
and, perhaps, they don't know Jesus quite as well as you do.
Be gentle.
Suspend judgment.
I know it isn't easy.
Righteous indignation is a good thing, but left unbridled and untempered by the precious Holy Spirit,
it can be ever so detrimental and injurious to those around us.

We may never see the example we wish we could see in another person.
If we don't, that doesn't mean we cannot be the example we wish we could see.

I read a quote once that said,
"Example is a language anyone can read."

My question to myself, is this...what are people reading in my life?
What kind of example am I putting before our dear son?
What is he daily learning from his mama?
What do those how know me see in me?
Is it an "example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity",
as the Apostle Paul instructed Timothy in I Timothy 4:12?

Mom and Dad always taught me that I needed to be aware of my behavior,
because we are the only "Bibles" some people will ever read.
If that didn't put the fear in me to live and walk like Jesus,
I don't know what would!

To think that some people's perception of Christianity will be solely based upon my life,
actions, and attitude really lights a fire under me to try to do better.
To live more Godly.
To BE the example I wish I could see in others.
All I say is, God help me.
When I write these posts, please always know that before I ever pass along the information to you,
dear readers, God had to deal with me about it first.

One more thing Mom and Dad used to tell me is this...
when I point my finger at someone else, there are three others pointing straight back at me.
I am no authority on anything.
I am far from having it all together.
I fall so short of the glory of God.
I am completely undone and can do nothing without Jesus Christ.
I need every, single admonishment I share here...more than anyone else who may happen to read it, believe me.

Thank God for His love and mercy and grace and forgiveness.
To God be all glory forever and ever.

I leave you with a few of my favorite quotes.
(I have given attribution when possible.)
I like these, because they challenge me and really make me think.

(By the way, have you ever visit the Homespun Devotions Quotes Page?
All of my favorites are on there, in no particular order, 
but just as I come across them or they come to mind.
I hope you will visit me there.)

"The thing about you Christians, is that you are so unlike your Christ." Ghandi

"Christians are the light of the world, but the switch has to be turned on."

"If you were on trial for being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?"

"Christian volunteers are good for nothing."

"Patience is a virtue that carries a lot of wait."

"Speak kind words; hear kind echoes."

"Forgiveness is the fragrance that the violet sheds on the heel that has crushed it."  Mark Twain

"You have not lived today until you have done something for someone who can never repay you."
 John Bunyan

"Love lights more fires that hate can extinguish."  Ella Wheeler-Wilcox

"By swallowing evil words unsaid, no one has ever harmed his stomach.

And a couple the dear Lord gave me...

"If I was the only view of Jesus the world would ever see,
what kind of a person would they think Him to be?"  C. E. Smith

"Humble pie is bitter, but the aftertaste is sweet." - C. E. Smith

God bless you this beautiful Christmas season, dear friends!
Even in the midst of illness, we are enjoying its simplicity so very much at our house.
I hope you are enjoying it, too!


Enjoy this sweet video!



If video doesn't load, click here.

19 comments:

  1. You've given me much to think on. Thank you for being so direct. Hugs to you this Christmas!
    Laura

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Sending love and hugs back to you, sweet friend. :) God bless you abundantly.

      Delete
  2. You have also given me much to think about. Since my husband is a Pastor/Elder he is also presented the "judge not" verses, but he's responsible for the flock and must use the "Bible is useful for teaching, correcting, rebuking" verse at times. It's knowing the correct times for each that can be complicated. Merry Christmas to you and yours!
    Blessings,
    Betsy

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Yes, dear friend, being in his position puts him in the place of having to speak the truth. It can be so complicated and surely takes much Holy Spirit discernment and wisdom. In his case, I think the Scripture that speaks of "judgment beginning at the house of God" would apply. I wish you and your husband a very Merry Christmas, too, Betsy, and I do trust you are feeling well enough to enjoy this beautiful season. May 2017 be much healthier for you!

      Delete
  3. Sometimes, even Christians do or say something wrong. Especially in this day and age with electronic media where we can write and publish something and regret it afterwards. I suggest you do write to this person privately and, gently, explain what he did and why it is wrong. And ... more important ... pray for him.

    God bless you and your family always.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, my, it surely takes a lot of wisdom. I have been so tempted to write to this person, because they are in a very public place of ministry, and, yet, I feel so undone myself as far as falling so short of God's glory that I feel I really have no right. It just irks me every time I think of it, because it brings such a reproach upon the name of Jesus. THAT is the part that hurts me the most. Surely God will deal with this person, and they will then be responsible for how they react to His Spirit's voice. Yes, I agree, this person needs prayer more than anything else. Thank you for your insight, my friend. It is always so welcome here and such a blessing! Merry Christmas!

      Delete
  4. It sounds like you get those lickens from the Holy Spirit like I do, Cheryl!!! But I understand your disappointment in the Christian misbehavior. We all have them, blind spots, and really need each other to help us by praying instead of judging and isn't it just like God to chasten us too and bring us down a peg! I love the gravy story! Oh, to be that gracious, huh? And some of the one liners are a hoot: Christian volunteers are good for nothing! Merry Christmas to you and yours, Cheryl, you are good people!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Aww...thank you so much for your sweet words, Mary. We surely do need each other on this Christian journey. You are so right...I am so thankful for the ones God has placed in my life who hold my feet to the fire and help me get back on track when I start to stray. He is so faithful. So thankful for your visit, and I wish you and your family a very Merry Christmas, too!!! You are such a blessing to me. :)

      Delete
    2. This comment has been removed by the author.

      Delete
  5. Hi Cheryl, thank you for a wonderful post. I love how your parent's told you that you may be the only bible that someone may read. It really makes you think doesn't it? Merry Christmas!

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You know, it really has made me stop and think a lot through life. Dad always also used to tell me when he would drop me off somewhere or I would go off with friends that whatever I did was a direct reflection of him and Mom. Whew! Did that put the fear in me! LOL! I never wanted to make them or our Lord look bad, and even though I have failed many times and not represented them the way I should have, I am thankful for that Godly counsel...it has kept me from a lot of worse things, I am sure. So happy you visited, Kelly. It is always a bright spot to see you were here. :) Sending you love and hugs this beautiful Christmas Day!

      Delete
  6. Cheryl, another very thoughtful post, thanks for your sharing of what God is showing you. I often think of the words 'judge not lest ye be judged according to the same measure', a really good scripture to pull you up when starting to judge others.
    Have a wonderful Christmas with your family.

    Diana

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Oh, thank you so much, Diana. I so appreciate your visit and kind words. You are a blessing to me! God bless you with a wonderful Christmas with your family, also. I hope your little mother is well today and able to enjoy the time together. Sending you and her love and hugs!

      Delete
  7. Hmmm - when to say something.. and when to be an example only. Never an easy one to figure out. Certainly scripture does give teaching to GO and say things. And 'do not judge' can become an excuse to stay on the sidelines... But to get our attitude in line w/ Jesus'... that must be first. And THEN we can act (or not) according to His promptings. Nothing like tough stuff in our lives to keep us listening to our Savior's voice :)

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, my friend. It truly takes Holy Ghost discernment and wisdom to know when to speak and when to just lead by example. I believe God will make it evident on an individual situation basis, and His Spirit will reprove us and hold us back when we should not speak out. We surely need Him at the helm at all times, don't we? Thank you for sharing your thoughts on this beautiful Christmas Day! Sending you love and hugs!~

      Delete
  8. Cheryl Your humbleness is the shining example of your life since I've known you! You are always honest with us about your own struggles and then share with us what God has taught you through that struggle.

    Years ago, we had the unfortunate experience to have someone close to our family constantly pointing fingers at us in outlandish self-righteous hypocrisy! Their fingers were pointed out their own slander and fabrications which hurt our family deeply. Years later, we discovered the ugly truth that went on behind their own walls. Their bad example taught me a great lesson to not point out the speck in another's eye when I have a log in my own. And I do, daily I'm sure you could find a redwood in my eye.

    I love that quote about being an example is a language easily read by everyone. But as I pointed out earlier, that goes for bad examples too. Yet you so beautifully shared so many fine examples of how to be a Christ-like example, that is the example we should strive for.

    Cheryl, I am so blessed to have you as friend and mentor. May God continue to richly bless you and your precious family.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. Dear, precious Karen! Only the Lord knows how much your dear visits and words of encouragement mean to me! I am so very grateful for your friendship and support on this Christian and blogging journey. I am so sorry you went through that terrible hurt, and I know surely God had to be your comfort and stay. Your presence in my life is such a gift to me, and I trust God will bless your 2017 in many wonderful ways! Sending you much love, dear friend.

      Delete
  9. I too have a problem wanting to comment and tell them how it is !!! There are times we must speak up. Other times it is best to be silent. Thank you for sharing your wise words with us here at Tell me a Story.

    ReplyDelete
    Replies
    1. You are so right, Hazel. It surely takes much Holy Spirit wisdom and discernment to know when to speak and when not to. God bless you in the new year, my friend!

      Delete