Summary: We can judge what we see, and we typically do, but, God tells us that it's the heart of a person that matters to Him. This is why it's important for Jesus followers to live as examples of what it looks like to use the spiritual resources that God gives.
Paul teaches us that there is a spiritual war that rages for the souls of people who walk the earth. Satan is a con artist. He's the best. The reason people refuse to deny themselves to follow Jesus is because satan deceives them into thinking they don't have to. God and satan are enemies, and the creation of God is the battlefield. It's not human logic that defies God. People defy God based on lies that satan has sown into humanity through the ages, and he is so good at what he does that people believe it makes sense to reject the truth of Jesus.
So a lot of folks walk around denying the existence of satan, even those who claim to be Christian because they have bought the deception of the con artist. It's impossible to read Paul's letter to the Ephesian church, though, and come away with any other understanding than this spiritual war exists, and God has given us some armor and weapons to defend ourselves and fight back.
We spent some time discussing why we use this spiritual equipment, Truth, Righteousness, Peace, Faith, Salvation, Bible, and Prayer. And today we want to get practical. How do we use it. God cares about the why. The greatest command is to love God with all our HEART, soul, strength and mind. The Bible also tells us that God sees the heart of person, but, what do we see? We see the actions, we see what a person wears, says and does. This is what our kids see and our parents, spouse, friends, family, neighbors, co-workers and church. We can judge what we see, and we typically do, but, God tells us that it's the heart of a person that matters to Him.
This is why it's important for Jesus followers to live as examples of what it looks like to use the spiritual resources that God has given us. This doesn't mean that we have a burden to be perfect. Again, I know I'm saying this over and over again, but, it's the truth. Our motive matters. Many of us want to be perceived as being good Christian people, so we pretend that we have it all together. We don't cuss, or we try not to, at least not around a lot of people. If we have a beer or a glass of wine, we're careful who we drink with, or where we drink, we might even avoid buying alcohol near where we live. And having a beer or a glass of wine isn't a sin, but, someone else might think it is. I've witnessed to folks in a bar, but, I didn't dare tell the church about it. I think the most damning thing about all of this is, there are a lot of church folks who don't trust each other.
The truth is that we all sin, but, in our church you wouldn't know sin exists among us. We generally admit that we sin because we all know the obvious, but, what particularly are our sins? I don't advocate that we ask folks to publicly confess their sin, but, do we hold each other accountable? Is there someone you trust that you can confess sin to, who will ask you the tough questions about your faith, your character, integrity and help you pray through the stuff you struggle with? I'm absolutely convinced that most Christians don't even know what that kind of relationship looks like.
The idea here is that we're not seeking to be good Christian examples for the sake of showing people how good we are. I grew up with a certain mentality that you do the right thing because it's the right thing to do. But that's not the more mature understanding. A more mature understanding is to do the right thing for the right reason. We want to be an example of a person who is desperate for Jesus and knows it. This is where the war in our home begins. When we are unwilling to humble ourselves before God to seek His forgiveness for our sin, then our kids grow up with that model. How many of our kids are growing up with the idea that they need to be good kids for the sake of being good Christian examples for their friends. I think one of the worst things a parent can teach their kid is that they have to be a good example to others just for the sake of being good. That is a lot of pressure for anyone, including ministers and preachers.
I want my kids to understand that they are completely and totally reliant on the gifts of Jesus for every Spiritual thing they have including the gift of their Salvation. Because, like me they sin. Like me they mess up, so they are not burdened to be good examples, however, they are expected to do what every follower does, to deny themselves every day, pick up the cross and follow Him, why? Because they love Him. Because they choose to love Him, not because their mom and dad does. And the reality is that when they love God with all their heart, soul, strength and mind, because they want to, because it's their faith, then guess what? They'll be a good example, just as Paul taught Timothy to be in what they say, in the way they live, in their love, faith, and their purity.