Wednesday, August 22, 2018
Philippians 4:9a Whatever you have learned or received or heard from me, or seen in me—put it into practice.
Matthew 7:21 “Not everyone who says to me, ‘Lord, Lord,’ will enter the kingdom of heaven, but only he who does the will of my Father who is in heaven.
Today’s challenge from the Apostle Paul is rich with significance, both for our personal growth and for the relational life we experience in the church.
First, we have a beautiful picture of how growth takes place through the intimacy of Godly relationships. At first it may sound rather arrogant of Paul to set himself up as the example to the believers, but I don’t believe pride motivated him to do it. When he mentored young Timothy for the ministry he said to him, “Don’t let anyone look down on you because you are young, but set an example for the believers in speech, in life, in love, in faith and in purity.”
One of the greatest benefits of being a part of a local church is that there are people of deep spiritual maturity who by their example can help us grow in our own walk with Jesus.
Paul says that there are four ways that we grow from such relationships:
- We learn – this means much more than just having a basic knowledge of the facts – it means to come to a complete understanding of the facts so that we come into agreement with them. Knowledge becomes the lens through which we look at the world and our lives. We adopt the principles and philosophies as our own, and they dictate our decisions and our motivations.
- We receive –growth Paul happens only through close intimate fellowship with another person. Jesus used this word when He said to us, “And if I go and prepare a place for you, I will come back and receive you unto myself, that you also may be where I am.” I’m sure you have heard the old saying, “It’s not what is taught, but what is caught that matters most.” However, nothing can be caught if we are not in catching range, and that requires personal contact and intimacy like Christ had with His disciples.
- We hear – we grow by listening.
- We see – we observe how others put their knowledge into practice.
According to the original grammatical structure of the verse, each of these growth principles are cumulative in their effect on us. First, we learn to learn. Second, we learn the value system produced by the knowledge. Third, we listen for new knowledge that enhances our value system. Then, through observation of others who are living by that knowledge, we learn to put into practice what we know.
When we understand God’s pattern of growth, then consistent commitment to relationships within the body of Christ become important to us. It is imperative that we are dedicated to our local church so we are constantly stimulated to grow and by our growth we are stimulating others to grow.
Second, unless we put what we have learned into practice, we are fools. Jesus spoke to that issue in Matthew 7 when He told the story of the wise and foolish builders who chose to build on either rock or sand.
There is an eternal chasm between two plateaus of truth that cannot be crossed by human effort.
On the one side are the people who claim to know Jesus but are still living by the mandates of their own will. Their knowledge of God has not changed their nature or their desires.
On the other side are those people who have been transformed by their knowledge of Jesus because they trust Him and have surrendered their will to the will of the Father. Their knowledge of God has become their value system by which they live and make their choices.
Those who have built the houses of their lives on the first plateau will be washed away, while those who have built their lives on the second plateau will stand for all eternity.
Whatever you have learned, received, heard, or seen in Jesus Christ – put it into practice or it is of no value!
The final thing I am challenged with in this passage is that we are called to be examples of these principles to others. This is very convicting.
- Are others able to grow in Christ because of their relationship with me?
- Do they learn to learn because they see the integrity of my understanding?
- Do they catch the value system of a Godly life because of the integrity of my values?
- Do they have reason to listen to what I say because I am a trustworthy messenger who lives what I teach?
- Do they see in me the living reality of the transforming power of the truth?
It would be easy to disqualify myself at any of those points if I listened to Satan as he attempts to beat me down, but I will not! Nor should you! We have all been given the gift of eternal life through Jesus Christ our Lord, and Jesus calls us all to be examples to others of how to live that life today.
Don’t let Satan keep you focused on how you’re not living it, but allow Jesus to encourage you to live according to the measure of faith that you have today. Your growth will happen, and you will be used by God to bring growth to others.