Summary: Is living a sanctified life Law or Gospel? Is it obeying God, or living life in reflection of Christ
Concordia Lutheran Church
Pentecost 20, October 18, 2009
“Do Your Job Well”
† IN THE NAME OF JESUS †
You are the beloved Children of God, and I pray that God our Father and our Lord Jesus Christ’s kindness and mercy will free you to enjoy complete peace!
Is it Law – or Gospel?
Do your Job Well!
Last week, as Deacon Mark stood in this spot, he made an observation that I hope you all caught. That when Jesus invited the rich young ruler to come and share Jesus’ life, and sell all that he had, that the command wasn’t Law, but gospel.
Jesus wasn’t trying to test obedience as much as He was trying to free the man from the things that stopped him from relating to God. It wasn’t about pass/fail tests, but look, see the burden you have placed on yourself. Jesus says, let me carry your heavy burden, and take mine yoke, for the burden is light.
I believe that same odd turn is seen here, in the Paul’s letter to his protégé Timothy. When in verse 5, the older apostle writes, “But you must stay calm and be willing to suffer. You must work hard to tell the good news and to do your job well.” 2Ti 4:5 (CEV) he is not burdening the young man, but instead showing him the blessing of the gospel.
The problem is, that when we hear “do your job well!!”, or “go sell all you have and come follow me” we hear law. Here is the challenge – for if you or I hear this as law, and bind ourselves to it, we will only be condemning ourselves in a week. We cannot, by our own reason and strength, stay calm, suffer, work hard as evangelists and do the job well. Neither could have Paul, even with the blessing of being an apostle.
Yet, if we realize the law would condemn us, we must look to see if it is gospel, we must see it as grace, and when we do….
But first – let’s see if this “command” is one of Law….
If it’s Law…
Then God wants you to suffer and be “patient”
Then God wants you to have to “work”
Then God wants you betrayed, dismayed by those who reject God, those who abandon you”
Focused on your own work.
And you will stand condemned
A quick review, in scripture, when we talk about Law – we are talking about the commands that if you do not obey, you find yourself in trouble. It’s what we call sin. If you don’t obey the 6th commandment, and fool around on your present or perhaps future husband or wife, and you have sinned. Spread stories about people, whether true or false, which is what Gossip is, and you have witnessed falsely about them. Misuse God’s name, or don’t take time to rest and you have sinned.
The nature of the Law is simple – God knows what is best for you, and the Ten Commands and the other laws are set up to describe life as it should be, as God guides us. IF no one cheated on those God meant for them to share life with, if no one lusted and schemed after what belongs to others, if no one murdered others, either in thought or word, or deed, what kind of life would this be?
If Timothy is obedient to the direction Paul would set for his life, would all be well? Paul isn’t just talking about bad suffering in verse 5 – it is a compound word that is the word for bad, horrible, and the word for suffering. Earlier Paul had told Timothy to be ultimately patient – the word is one that primarily describes God in the Old Testament, and His patience with Israel. In other words, hold off on God’s wrath or even our own, even as Paul will hope for those who abandoned and deserted him.
Indeed, Paul will describe the life he lives, almost to hold out an example to Timothy what awaits him. He will have the people like Demas, who will walked away. Others will leave to pursue ministry somewhere else, forgetting that Timothy exists. Others will be like Alexander, who purposefully challenged Paul’s words, and will cause pain as they oppose what the work of sharing Christ.
To say that these commands are the Law –the submit yourself to this or you aren’t mine, is to claim that God would desire we suffer, that God would desire us to hurt, that God only cares about the results. We then begin to focus on the numbers, and making ourselves feel like we have accomplished something. We look for the inspiring stories in our lives, than the faithfulness of God to sustain us in the midst of the hard times.