Friday, February 12, 2010

Taking stock of your progress

Good morning my friends. Another week almost over; another week closer to Jesus' return. What kind of progress did we make in the Kingdom this week? I wonder if we gained any ground or did we lose some. I know I have had some great news this week that opens the doors for my church to move forward. I am also making some progress in building bridges with other churches, which is always good news. Every step we take toward unity is a good thing and will bear the fruit of new souls being reconciled with God. This is what we need to do; take inventory of what we have been doing to further the mission each day and each week; take time to reflect on what God is doing.

You will remember from yesterday that Paul saw his purpose to be occupied in the work of salvation and spiritual maturity of the lost, which is the general purpose of every Christian. This is our mission. It is more than just getting someone to confess Christ; it is also to be there to help them gain knowledge and maturity in Jesus. Paul did not just enter a town, hold an evangelical campaign and leave. He stayed or assigned other leaders to stay, to establish the Church, with proper leadership. This was Titus' purpose in Crete:

The reason I left you in Crete was that you might straighten out what was left unfinished and appoint elders in every town, as I directed you. (Titus 1:5)

Leadership was important to Paul as we see in this letter as well as his letters to Timothy. The actions and behaviour of each leader was important to him. Here is an example of what he wrote to Titus:

Since an overseer is entrusted with God's work, he must be blameless—not overbearing, not quick-tempered, not given to drunkenness, not violent, not pursuing dishonest gain. Rather he must be hospitable, one who loves what is good, who is self-controlled, upright, holy and disciplined. (vv.7-8)

Obviously Paul was not into conformity or legalism. He was not interested in mere appearances but instead the fruit that true transformation brought about in people. We see this as he writes about those who deceive with words. They say one thing but do another:

They claim to know God, but by their actions they deny him. They are detestable, disobedient and unfit for doing anything good. (v. 16)

Paul wanted to see good leaders in place who could stand against such deceitfulness and defend those who were only starting out in their faith. They needed to defend because the deceivers were out to destroy:

For there are many rebellious people, mere talkers and deceivers, especially those of the circumcision group. They must be silenced, because they are ruining whole households by teaching things they ought not to teach—and that for the sake of dishonest gain. (v. 10-11)

Good leadership is vital in the face of such rebellious and evil times as we live in. It is hard because appearances can be deceiving but wrong action does speak a lot about the inner condition. Things that should never be found in a leader are a short temper, a foul mouth, selfishness, lack of self-control, a lack of discipline and all of the other things that Paul has listed. These things are a sign of lack of maturity and we cannot afford to have spiritually immature leaders. But it goes beyond just leaders.

Everyone of us needs to understand that we are on a pathway to maturity. It needs to be our goal and what we are pursuing every day. We need to push forward in our desire to grow in the maturity of our knowledge and action, in our relationship with Jesus. Every week we should be able to reflect on our week and recognize the growth that we have made. Lack of growth should be a warning to us and an indication that we need to change some things for the next week. If you want to know what your life should look like within the context of the Body of Christ you should take a few minutes now and read Colossians 3. Just do not be lazy about your relationship with Jesus. You must be active in your pursuit of a growing relationship that changes you day by day. As well, do not forget to participate in the mission today. There is lots to do and we need everyone involved in it. Time is running out.

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