A person’s reading of Luke 15 helps one to understand a crucial priority for Jesus. The finding of a lost sheep, the finding of a lost coin, and the return of a lost son form a pattern. God cares about lost people. During his trip to Jericho we hear Jesus say, “‘For the Son of Man came to seek and to save what was lost.’” (Luke 19:10) Those words summarized the conversion of Zacchaeus. Those words also cause us to wonder what we must do to help the lost. Alexander Maclaren once said that, “More souls are won for Jesus Christ by saintly conduct than by any argument.” The implication of his words is that our behavior makes a difference.
For some special words on behavior we turn to the scriptures. “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self-control.” (Galatians 5:22-23) A vibrant relationship with the indwelling Holy Spirit enables us to live fruitful lives that people will observe. The poet Edgar Guest once observed, “I’d rather see a sermon than hear one any day.” People watch us to see if a person’s relationship with Jesus Christ really does make a difference.
We behave differently when we live upon the premise that God has a will for our moral behavior which is different from the way many people live their lives. “Do not conform any longer to the pattern of this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind. Then you will be able to test and approve what God’s will is-his good, pleasing and perfect will.” (Romans 12:2) The world may use profanity, but I should not. The world may gossip, but I should not. The world may cheat and at times tell lies, but I should not. The world may use drugs and drink excessively, but I should not.
The question many believers ask is, “Am I not free in Christ to do what I want?” The Apostle Paul argues powerfully, “For none of us lives to himself alone and none of us dies to himself alone. If we live, we live to the Lord; and if we die, we die to the Lord. So whether we live or die, we belong to the Lord.” (Romans 14:7-8) Although God says through Paul the Apostle that all food are clean, he encourages the Romans to not be a stumbling block to those who believe differently. Paul exhorts people to adjust their eating for the sake of others. “If your brother is distressed because of what you eat, you are no longer acting in love. Do not by your eating destroy your brother for whom Christ died.” (Romans 14:15) If we are guided by the Lord we will at times adjust our behavior for the sake of others.
Ultimately our behavior is a statement regarding our relationship with Jesus and our relationship with the lost ones He desires to reach. That means we’re to keep growing. “For this very reason, make every effort to add to your faith goodness; and to goodness, knowledge; and to knowledge, self control; and to self-control, perseverance; and to perseverance, godliness; and to godliness, brotherly kindness; and to brotherly kindness, love. For if you possess these qualities in increasing measure, they will keep you from being ineffective and unproductive in your knowledge of our Lord Jesus Christ.” ( II Peter 1:5-8) Because others are watching us we should keep growing. We should live our lives for the sake of others.
Pastor Ken Atchison
All scripture quotations, unless otherwise indicated, are taken from the Holy Bible, New International Version®, NIV®. Copyright ©1973, 1978, 1984, 2011 by Biblica, Inc.™ Used by permission of Zondervan. All rights reserved worldwide. www.zondervan.com.