It is not unusual to watch a professional football game and witness the celebrations of the athletes after scoring a touchdown. Some of them do a dance or pump their fist or spike the ball. Once in a while you may see an athlete bow his knee or point a finger to the sky. Perhaps these athletes want to be a witness to the world of their personal faith in God. Maybe as a Christian he is acknowledging that whatever he was able to do, he accomplished through help from above. I am not criticizing these athletes for the public display of their faith. In the same way it is not wrong to wear a gospel witness on a t-shirt or even a bumper sticker. However, I believe that we need more than a finger to the sky kind of faith, we need one that has our feet to the earth. Our life must match our lips, our beliefs must be reflected in our behavior.
Jesus taught the importance of having a kind of faith that is more than words. He said in Matthew 7:21: “Not everyone who says to Me, Lord, Lord, shall enter the kingdom of heaven, but he who does the will of My Father in heaven. Many will say to Me in that day, Lord, Lord…And then I will declare to them, I never knew you; depart from Me, you who practice lawlessness!”
James warns us that the kind of faith that is not backed up by works is dead. Our faith must be seen in our lifestyle of obedience to the commands of Christ. People need to hear the gospel to know how to be saved. But if they are going to believe what we say we must display a Christlike behavior.
The world must hear our message but they also must see our godly walk, feel our genuine love, and witness our personal integrity. As we point a finger to the sky does the world see that our feet are walking the narrow way?
Isn’t it refreshing whenever you go into a business that is customer oriented? I enjoy going to the Chick-fil-A
restaurant near us for lunch once in a while. I love their chicken sandwiches but I am really impressed by how well they train their employees. When you approach the counter instead of an employee yelling out: “next”, they smile and say: “how can I serve you”. When the workers are thanked, they always respond with, “it’s my pleasure”. The company wants to make sure that a servant spirit prevails in their restaurants.
This servant attitude is such a valuable quality among God’s people. Jesus developed this type of spirit in His disciples in His teaching and example. He told them that the secret to greatness in His kingdom was to learn to be the servant of all. He taught us lessons like going the second mile, giving a cup of cold water, and doing unto others as we would have them do to us. He exemplified this servant spirit in the upper room before Passover.
Since not one of the disciples had volunteered to be the foot washer, Jesus took a towel and assumed the role of this lowly servant. He then taught His disciples then and now a valuable lesson in John 13:14: “If I then, your Lord and Teacher, have washed your feet, you also ought to wash one another’s feet”. Of course His greatest lesson in servanthood was His willingness to go to the cross and die, taking all our sins upon Himself.
Christ-followers work for someone greater than Chick-fil-A. We serve the Lord Jesus Christ. His radical teachings fly in the face of the way the world system operates. In this me-first, serve yourself, climb over people world, our Lord instructs us to have a servant spirit. He once told us: “For even the Son of Man did not come to be served, but to serve, and to give His life a ransom for many” (Mark 10:45). Our greatest pleasure in life is
fulfilled when we ask our wonderful Lord, “How can I serve You”.
I saw an interesting video clip recently. It pictured two deer who had their antlers locked. One of the deer was dead. The other one couldn’t get free because its antlers were hopelessly intertwined with the dead deer lying on the ground. A fight between the two bucks most likely resulted in the situation and one of them died. The living deer was in a hopeless condition and most likely would have died also, but something happened. Two hunters came upon the scene. They felt sorry for the deer and set to work to free it. While one hunter filmed, the other one took a risk and was able to knock the antlers loose.
All around me I see people who are locked in hopeless situations. Some of them are in the grip of some kind of addiction or trapped by a sinful lifestyle choice. Others have found themselves bound by loneliness, bitterness, anger, and greed. The Bible describes all of humanity outside of Jesus Christ in Ephesians 2:12: “That at that time you were without Christ, being aliens from the commonwealth of Israel and strangers from the covenants of promise, having no hope and without God in the world”. To be without hope is a terrible way to live. But there is some amazing good news. Someone came along and saw our hopeless situation. Even when we were
helplessly entwined in our own sins and facing eternal death; Jesus Christ, God’s Son came and rescued us. His
death on the cross paid in full the debt which our sins demanded. He set us free and gave us hope. The apostle Peter described the hope we have in Christ in 1 Peter 1:3: “Blessed be the God and Father of our Lord Jesus Christ, who according to His abundant mercy has begotten us again to a living hope through the resurrection of Jesus Christ from the dead”.
I don’t know what motivated the hunters to free the deer. But I do know what motivated God to send His Son to free us. He loved us so much that he made a way for us to have eternal life. Do you have this hope?
A man stopped in my office to describe for me the ministry to which God had called him. He was involved in evangelism and prayer in various communities. We had a pleasant conversation and before he left he asked me how many soldiers I had. My mind quickly thought of those who served in the military. My friend wasn’t referring to military soldiers. I then thought of the attendance in our services, however he wasn’t even referring to the overall numbers of church attenders. He asked me how many soldiers of the cross I have that will do battle for the Lord. I had to admit to myself that the number of those kind of soldiers was much smaller that I had hoped they would be.
When I think of my visitor’s question my mind goes to the scripture that Paul left us in 2 Timothy 2:3,4 when he said: “You therefore must endure hardship as a good soldier of Jesus Christ. No one engaged in warfare entangles himself with the affairs of this life, that he may please him who enlisted him as a soldier”. Those verses tell us what God expects of us as good soldiers. First of all we are to endure hardship. Living for Christ
is not easy. We may suffer ridicule or opposition to our faith. The world system is a fast flowing current that is headed in the wrong direction according to God’s Word. We are often called to go against the flow. A good soldier also avoids entanglements. Can you imagine a soldier on the front lines of battle calling a time out to run errands for the family or to work a second job at the mall? He must, and so must we avoid getting so enmeshed with the things of this world that our fighting the good fight is relegated to part time status. The final thing a good soldier does his best at is pleasing his commander. Of course our commander is none other than Jesus Christ. He is the one who has enlisted us and it is our duty to obey Him, love Him, and live every day for Him.
Being saved is one thing, being a soldier is quite another. Are you one?
Pastor Stultz has been writing this weekly devotional for many years. In 2009, he published a compilation of devotionals in book form, also called Moments of Meditation