Thursday, August 06, 2009
Current Study: First Peter
Today’s Topic: Why Should I Listen To You?
Scripture Reading: 1 Peter 3:15b-16 But do this with gentleness and respect, keeping a clear conscience, so that those who speak maliciously against your good behavior in Christ may be ashamed of their slander.
The First Amendment of the Constitution of the United States says Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. The right to freedom of speech granted in this law of the land has been severely tested over the past few generations. From flag burning to pornographic art, citizens have decided that they have the right to say anything they want, in any form they choose.
We could argue that right all day long, but what is more important than the freedom of speech is the challenge to get people to listen. Sure we believe in freedom of speech. You’ve got the right to say anything you like.
But others don’t have to listen! They’re under no obligation to tune you in. When they do, they can also tune you out anytime they wish.
Your right to speak is guaranteed—but you must earn the right to be listened to. It depends solely on your integrity. Integrity – having a clear conscience – is the prerequisite to acceptance. If you expect to be paid attention to, back it up with your life. Let your walk correspond to your talk. This is fundamental to your witness for Christ. Many so-called Christians listen too little, talk too much, and live lives that contradict what they say. Their “witness” betrays Christ – and alienates those to whom they speak. (Richard C. Halverson in No Greater Power. Christian Reader, Vol. 25, no. 1.)
The power of our witness for Christ is not found in our words alone – it is in words backed up by behavior. In fact, according to Peter, it is our behavior that eventually convinces our critics to listen to us.
I have been guilty far too many times in my life of saying one thing and doing another, which causes me great shame my Lord. I’m sure you know of what I speak. I am so thankful for the cleansing power of the Blood of Christ which washes away all sin and its guilt. The grace that He extends is indescribable and transformational. His mercies are new every morning, and each new day is to be a fresh start of new life. Let’s not waste this new day by continuing the hypocritical lifestyles so many have adopted. It is time to be children of God with clear consciences. It is time for integrity to reign in the church.
Integrity – a clear conscience – is to live by a single standard consistently. The late golf champion Babe Didrickson Zaharias once disqualified herself from a golf tournament for having hit the wrong ball out of the rough. “But nobody would have known,” a friend told her. “I would have known,” Babe Didrickson Zaharias replied.
Here are three questions to ask yourself at the beginning of every day:
- “What will I do to Jesus today?”
- “What will I do for Jesus today?”
- “What will I do with Jesus today?”
Then ask these three questions at the end of the day:
- “What did I do to Jesus today?”
- “What did I do for Jesus today?”
- “What did I do with Jesus today?”
I guarantee you that if you do that consistently, you will develop integrity, and your witness for Christ will become effective. Remember, witnessing is not so much about the freedom of speech, but the application of the Word. Your consistent choice of righteousness will be the living light of Jesus that the lost world needs to see.