Summary: A continuation (see part one) of the CHARACTERISTICS that mark a person who shares Jesus Christ with his community and culture
THE PASTOR’S POINTS
sermon ministry of
CEDAR LODGE BAPTIST CHURCH
September 14, 2003
Last week we looked at the opening verses of this chapter under the same heading, An Exemplary Witness. We discovered that exemplary witnesses are people who share their faith in Jesus, and that means they live their lives in extraordinary ways. They live effectively, bravely, sincerely, gently, generously and lovingly.
Last week was a ¡§look¡¨ at the lifestyle of an exemplary witness. This week we want to back-up and tackle the question of how you get there in the first place. It is as if we looked first at the completed building; now we want to look at the videotape of how the building was put together.
So, I invite you to stand together with me as we read our text, and see how Paul reminds the Thessalonian believers how he lives his life, and how that made for an example we should follow if we want to be effective, exemplary witnesses:
9Don¡¦t you remember, dear brothers and sisters, how hard we worked among you? Night and day we toiled to earn a living so that our expenses would not be a burden to anyone there as we preached God¡¦s Good News among you. 10You yourselves are our witnesses¡Xand so is God¡Xthat we were pure and honest and faultless toward all of you believers.
1 Thessalonians 2:9-10 (NLT)
I want to underscore for you this morning Paul¡¦s three-part building process for becoming an effective, exemplary witness. I sense that I must warn you about the fact that there will be a test at the end of today¡¦s message. It won¡¦t be the usual kind of ¡§question and answer¡¨ final like the couple who were attending a marriage seminar on communication. The husband and wife listened to the instructor declare, "It is essential that husbands and wives know the things that are important to each other." He addressed the men, "Can you describe your wife’s favorite flower?" The husband leaned over, touched his wife’s arm gently and whispered, "Pillsbury All-Purpose, isn’t it?" The rest of the story is not pleasant.
This test will be much more difficult, longer and incredibly telling in your life. The test will be every moment of every day of your life from this point forward. The test will be your life as a witness. It will be in process every time you plan your day, go to work or school, open your wallet or your mouth; it is the kind of test that will end the only after you are laid in a casket. To borrow phrases from the broadcast industry, this is a test, and not only a test ¡V this is your life, your life as a witness of the Lord Jesus Christ.
If we will emulate Paul¡¦s three-part exemplary life, our witness effectiveness can only get better. Let¡¦s put it in the form of three statements about the way we live our lives¡K
I. YOUR LIFE IN THE COMMUNITY OUGHT TO BE A LIFT
Paul had established the church at Thessalonica some years previous to his letters we are reading. He knew the area. Christianity was new. The people that lived in that thriving fast-paced city were used to con artists. Paul had the right as an apostle to demand that the church support him financially. However, in those circumstances, Paul didn¡¦t want anything to get in the way of the Gospel message getting through. Paul worked at the trade of making tents all day long, and then preached when most others would have been resting. Paul was a lift to his community.
Senator Elizabeth Dole was quoted as saying, ¡§My grandmother practiced what she preached and lived her life for others. When it became necessary for her, in her nineties, to go into a nursing home, she welcomed the opportunity. There might be some people there who don’t know the Lord and I can read the Bible to them.¡¨ (2)
There are people in our society, and in our churches who haven¡¦t gotten that down yet. There are those who continually take, assuming that their own need is the greatest, instead of lifting their community, they add a liability. An old saying is well heeded here, those things, good Lord, that we pray for, give us also the grace to labor for.
Now, that doesn¡¦t mean poverty, or a rough stretch is sin. It does mean that your witness is affected by how willing you are to help others, no matter what your situation. That includes health, wealth, abilities and whether you feel like it. In fact, the effect of your witness is always in direct proportion to what it costs you to give it.
Question #1 on this lifetime test: Are you a lift to your community?