Summary: A look at Luke 1:80 where it says that John the Baptist "become strong in spirit." This is the verse before the famous Christmas story (Luke 2:1-7). The sermon encourages people to "train themselves in godliness" and become more like Christ.
- Story from Preaching Today of the person pointlessly trying to visit every Starbucks in America.
- “Accomplishing” something that really doesn’t amount to much.
- What we accomplish with our lives is what v. 80 got me to thinking about.
- This verse comes just before that famous Christmas passage that was read just a moment ago. This verse represents the end of a long section about John the Baptist’s miraculous birth and provides for us a succinct summary of where his life went from there. Of particular interest to me this evening is the phrase “strong in spirit.” John became strong in spirit.
- It’s an evocative phrase and it raises a telling question: do I want to be strong in spirit in my life?
- Most of us don’t really think in those terms. Sure, we want to have a little God in our lives. Sure, we show up at church but it’s usually not a goal of our lives that we become spiritually strong.
- In 1 Timothy 4:7-8, Paul writes: “. . . train yourself to be godly.” We need to consider His words there: that there is training we can do to become stronger in spirit. As we incorporate the spiritual habits into our lives that move us in the direction of godliness, we grow in spirit.
- In fact, in v. 8, Paul continues: “For physical training is of some value, but godliness has value for all things . . . .” He compares becoming strong in spirit to working out at a gym to get stronger. I was doing pretty well earlier this year at doing a little workout each morning. I had to quit when the thyroid problem hit in late summer but I’ve been negligent in getting back on track now that I feel better. There’s really no good excuse – I just haven’t done it. That’s the way a lot of folks are with their spiritual lives – they’re not doing the things that will help them get stronger in spirit and there’s not a good excuse.
- What would such “training” look like? A few starting points are the three places in John where Jesus essentially says, “If you do this you’re really my disciple”:
a. John 8:31 – “If you hold to my teaching, you are really My disciple.” So we need to train by digging into God’s Word.
b. John 13:35 – “By this all men will know that you are My disciples, if you love one another.” So we need to actively look for ways to invest our lives in those around us.
c. John 15:8 – “This is to My Father’s glory, that you bear much fruit, showing yourselves to be My disciples.” So we need to find ways to serve.
- All three of those things will grow us in godliness. Actively pursuing them is an act of training ourselves in godliness. Doing those things will help us become strong in spirit.
- One final word to note as I close. Back where we started in Luke 1:80 we find that phrase we’ve been talking about: “strong in spirit.” But note the word that comes right become it: “became.” That’s enormously encouraging to me. John also had to grow in godliness, just like you and me.
- This Christmas Eve, are you satisfied with your spiritual life being an occasional service and sporadically praying? Or do you want to become strong in spirit?