Summary: In this sermon, Paul offers some appeals to believers that are very handy for successful Christian living.
APPEALS FROM THE HEART
Have you ever stopped to think of the many appeals that are made on any given day? There is the appeal from the pastor to his flock for greater commitment to God's work. He appeals to his leadership for more excitement about their work. There is the appeal from the employer to his employees to pay more attention to quality, to do more in less time and to do their best. There is the appeal from the law enforcement officers for people to drive safely, to wear their safety belts and to live in accordance with the laws of the land. There is the appeal from the lawyer to find the person guilty or innocent as the case may be. There is the appeal from politicians to their constituents to get out and vote. There is the appeal from our President to make America a better place to live. There is the appeal from leaders of various countries to live in peace. There is the appeal of the parent of the rebellious child to be obedient. There is the appeal from God to his people to be whom he calls them to be. All over our land, appeals go up on every hand.
Paul does some appealing in these verses. Up to this point, he has been confrontational and impersonal with his readers, but now that changes. He now positions himself as the lawyer in the courtroom and gives a dispassionate presentation to them. He has reminded them that their salvation has come by God's grace alone and not their works. He has questioned them as to why they are backpeddaling by trying to earn what they never could in the first place. Now he moves to the personal level and in essence says to them; “I care about you more than I can say. I love you dearly just as you have loved me dearly. Please listen to what I'm saying, because it's so vitally essential.” He moves from stern to gentle. It is a reminder that in our appeals to others, we too must take on this quality of gentleness. So often God's people do not do as they should. We are called upon to rebuke but we must do it with a spirit of gentleness less we cut our throats in what we try to accomplish.
I. LIVE AN EXAMPLE BEFORE OTHERS
If they were to live an example before others, they needed to live in the spiritual freedom that was theirs as a child of God. Paul has already warned them about returning to the slavery of trying to live under the law. No one could ever hope to obey God's laws perfectly. A person does not have the strength to do this. We must trust in the one who was born to redeem those who labored under this curse of the law; namely Jesus Christ himself.
Paul begged them to become as he was. In other words, he was an example to them. Now what kind of example was he? He was an example that salvation came through God's grace. If anyone had attempted to live under God's law to find salvation, Paul was that person. On the Damascus Road, he found through meeting the risen Lord that this was impossible. It was in that experience that he trusted the saving grace of the Lord Jesus Christ. He let go of his legalistic attempts to please God. He now counted as loss all those things he once trusted in for God's approval.