Thursday, 7 August 2008

Live By Example...

Living by example was the theme last month at my church. As the solo parent of an impressionable 4 year old girl, this was a timely and important message for me. I must watch what I say and do in front of my daughter, as she is a sponge and takes in everything I say and do.

Titus 2:7-8 say this, “In everything set them an example by doing what is good. In your teaching show integrity, seriousness and soundness of speech that cannot be condemned, so that those who oppose you may be ashamed because they have nothing bad to say about us.”

Certain circumstances over the last week have also brought this lesson to my attention, but this time with adults. Such things include the way one speaks about people who have hurt or offended us in the past, right down to how one portrays oneself to others, both in person and even here in cyberspace. A word here, a comment there, even if we think it’s just a bit of fun; they all add up to advancing the enemy’s cause, even without us realising it straight away, or at all.

We are told in 1 Peter 5:8 to be both self-controlled and alert as the devil, our enemy, prowls around looking for someone to devour. To me this means guarding myself from falling into his trap by saying and doing ungodly words and deeds.

In my life as a solo mum it is imperative that I guard against such attacks from the enemy, as I know he is laying in wait for me to slip up so that I will set a bad example for my daughter. He has caught me up more often than not in times gone by, but I have built up, and am continuing to build up, my resistance towards his attacks by spending time in the Word and arming myself to speak out against the devil in God’s name.

1 Thessalonians 5:6 reiterates that we must “…not be like others, who are asleep, but let us be alert and self-controlled.” The first book of Peter also tells us too that we are to "Resist him, standing firm in the faith, because you know that your brothers throughout the world are undergoing the same kind of sufferings.” (1 Peter 5:9).

Being a Christian doesn’t make us immune to the enemy’s temptations; it actually puts us right in the firing line. The devil doesn’t discriminate between Christians and non-Christians; he wants us all. We as Christians need to guard ourselves, and arm ourselves, against the temptations of the enemy, and we are more than ably aided by God to do that. God cannot be tempted, or tempt with evil, so we know exactly who is responsible for all temptation.

A Christian must “…not live the rest of his earthly life for evil human desires, but rather for the will of God. For you have spent enough time in the past doing what pagans choose to do—living in debauchery, lust, drunkenness, orgies, carousing and detestable idolatry.” (1 Peter 4:2-3).

To me this means that we are to be mindful in how we act. We need to guard our thoughts and our tongues, and we should not inadvertently validate someone else’s bad actions or words by reverting back to our former way of thinking, acting and speaking. We should honour God in everything we do and say. This doesn’t mean we need to distance ourselves from our non-Christian friends, but more so that we must be an example to them of how God works for good in our lives. God wants His children back with Him, not further away.

James 1:26 says, “If anyone considers himself religious and yet does not keep a tight rein on his tongue, he deceives himself and his religion is worthless”. If we claim to love the Lord, and praise Him with our lips, we should then guard our lips against wrong talk. “With the tongue we praise our Lord and Father, and with it we curse men, who have been made in God’s likeness. Out of the same mouth come praise and cursing. My brothers, this should not be.” – James 3:9-10.

It is difficult at times to keep a tight reign on one’s thinking, which in turn is then acted out in words and deeds, but it is imperative that we do. I have learnt this through my daughter. Some of her behaviour is not acceptable, but she is a child and the majority of her bad behaviour, like with the good, is learned behaviour. I do not have control over what she is exposed to when not in my care, but I am 100% responsible for when she is, and this is my lesson – live by example! And most importantly – glorify God as I live by example.

“May the God who gives endurance and encouragement give you a spirit of unity among yourselves as you follow Christ Jesus, so that with one heart and mouth you may glorify the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ.” – Romans 15:5-6

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