Summary: How many times have we heard someone say as an excuse to the way they act, "That’s just the way I am and I can’t help it"? Christ is concerned with the way we act, and there are certain characteristics he wants us to develop in our lives.
HOW SHOULD I ACT, ANYWAY?
A. Have you been in an UNCOMFORTABLE situation where you didn’t know how to ACT?
1. Undoubtedly we all have at one time.
It could be that you started work at a new JOB and you had no idea what you were supposed to DO or how to ACT.
When you went to COLLEGE you were so CONFUSED as to WHERE to GO and how to ACT, that you spent the first day in a DAZE ROAMING the CAMPUS thinking, "Did I make a MISTAKE coming here?"
Maybe as a TEENAGER you liked this girl at school, and you tried for weeks to get up enough courage to ask her out on a DATE. To your delight she said "Yes," but before she could GO you had to meet her PARENTS. Finally the big occasion comes and you go to her house and ring the door bell. Then you hear this deep voice from inside say, "COME IN IF YOU DARE!" (And that was just the MOTHER!) You nervously walk in and her Father, this BIG, BURLY guy stands there and says, "Sit down!" So you DROP to the FLOOR. And he says, "No, I mean in the chair." So you SIT there for 30 minutes thinking, "Be calm! Don’t DO or SAY anything wrong! Just be COOL." You really don¡¦t know how to ACT!
2. When I was in Bratislava, Czechoslovakia on a MISSION trip a few years ago, I was placed in a situation where I didn’t know how to ACT.
Juraj (pronouced "George in English"), one of my students at the English Bible Study Center where I, along with others, was TEACHING conversational English using the Bible as a TEXT, INVITED me to his place for DINNER. As we got on the TRAM to go to his APARTMENT, he said that I might not like what he had PREPARED for me. He then explained that he was a VEGETARIAN, and that he had PREPARED a complete VEGETARIAN MEAL. I told him that was fine. (Paul said, "we are to become all things to all men to save some." So I became a VEGETARIAN that day.)
We sat down at this COFFEE TABLE where he had all kinds of food spread out. There were raw RADISHES, EGG PLANT, and CAULIFLOWER. (My favorite. Yea, right!) He served two kinds of UNCOOKED BEANS that he SOAKED in water until they SPROUTED. (Yummy!) He did have some English Walnuts and Roasted Peanuts in a shell. There was also plenty of WHOLE WHEAT and RYE BREAD.
To top it off, he brought from the refrigerator a MIXTURE of CURDS, ONION, GARLIC, and some other stuff that was UNRECOGNIZABLE. Juraj then asked me what the English word is for this MIXTURE. The word "YUK!" came to mind, but I didn’t think that was APPROPRIATE. I replied, "Well, I guess you call it DIP." But then I looked around and couldn’t find the DORITOS.
After sitting down, Juraj pointed to the FOOD. "Go ahead and eat, Fred." I had no idea how to EAT that STUFF. I didn’t see any eating UTENSILS. "After you," I said. He took the bread, broke it in two, put the DIP on top and began to eat. I did as he did, and ENDURED the MEAL.
B. We may be concerned with how we ACT in these and similar situations, but Jesus is more concerned with
how we ACT in the world and how we RELATE to people.
1. Sadly, there are church leaders who are more concerned with DOCTRINAL ISSUES than with the way Christians ACT--Jesus is concerned with BOTH.
He made it quite clear that certain PERSONALITY TRAITS are not only to be DESIRED but also to be DEMANDED for the Kingdom’s sake.
2. More guidance needs to be given in our churches to help people know what PERSONALITY that God wants them to have.
For too long we’ve heard people say and we have said, "That’s just the way I AM. I’ve always been this way and that’s the way I’ll always be." For too long we’ve heard people (even CHURCH LEADERS) say the same thing in order to overlook a particular problem: "Ah, that’s just the way he or she is."
If this is a matter of being PATIENT while a person GROWS in the Lord, that’s one thing. But when it becomes a DIVERSION enabling us to ESCAPE our RESPONSIBILITY to each other and to God, that’s a different story all together.
3. The fact is, the Lord was very SPECIFIC about some of the PERSONALITY TRAITS we should GROW into.
I. GROW IN HUMILITY- Matthew 18:1-4 (READ)
A. Jesus stands a CHILD before the disciples and TEACHES them a valuable lesson on HUMILITY.