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Summary: There is nothing more disappointing than losing something for which we have worked; we are in danger of losing a generation of children if we do not teach forthrightly what Christian values are and if we do not reject intrusive, deceptive messages from th

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There is no greater disappointment than working for

something for a long time, only to see that work just

disappear. You worked hard, but it’s gone. That is truly an

awful feeling.

A couple of weeks ago, on one of those steamy weekends

filled with unpredictable thunderstorms, my wife was sitting at

her word processor, making notes for her Sunday School

lesson. Well, the trouble with antiquated word processors is

that they do not store data on a hard drive, only on a disk.

And so, up came a thunderstorm, off went the power, and

away went a couple of hours’ Bible study work! Let me tell

you, there were two thunderstorms around my house that

night, only one of them outside! There is no greater

disappointment than working for something for a long time,

only to see that work just disappear.

Let’s talk about the stock market. Or maybe you’d rather

not? I only know that when the quarterly report comes from

the Baptist Annuity Board, which is holding my retirement

portfolio, I get a little queasy. How can it be that I put all this

money into that thing these last three months, but it is worth

less than when I started? One of our members told me that

she intended to buy a car several months ago, but that her

car got wrecked – not on the road, but in the crash of her

401-K account. I will not bore you with my own investments,

but if you see a certain blonde household guru named

Martha Stewart around, tell her I want a word with her!

There is no greater disappointment than working for

something for a long time, only to see that work just

disappear.

Let’s not talk, then, about electronic files or about the stock

market. Let’s talk about our families. Let’s think about the

most precious thing we have worked for. Our homes, our

families, our children. We have spend time and money,

energy and emotion, nurturing them. We have fed them,

housed them, clothed them, loved them, fought them,

schlepped them around to everything from soccer games to

ballet classes. We expected them to be something when

they grow up. But we didn’t always get it. Sometimes we

lost our own children. Again, there is no greater

disappointment than working for something for a long time,

only to see that work just disappear.

So John’s word today is right on target for us:

Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for.

But what have we worked for? What have we been trying to

accomplish? Unless we are building character, we stand to

lose everything we are working for. Unless we are growing

men and women who will be Christlike, all we have done

scatters to the wind. I say again, there is no greater

disappointment than working for something for a long time,

only to see that work just disappear. There is no greater

disappointment for any of us than to see people deteriorate

into nothing. Hear John again,

Be on your guard, so that you do not lose what we have worked for.

I

So what needs to happen so that we not lose what we have

worked for? John puts his finger on it in this little Second

Letter. He writes to someone he calls the “elect lady” about

her children. His first message is that we do have to teach

the truth and walk in the truth. We have to teach the truth,

forthrightly and clearly, if we expect anybody to walk in it, but

walk in it they must:

I was overjoyed to find some of your children walking in the truth,

just as we have been commanded by the Father. But now, dear

lady, I ask you, not as though I were writing you a new

commandment, but one we have had from the beginning, let us love

one another. And this is love, that we walk according to his

commandments; this is the commandment just as you have heard it

from the beginning—you must walk in it.

Some of our children walk in the truth. But now, says John,

let us walk according to his commandments. You must walk

in his commandments.

Some of our children walk in the truth, but some do not. Is it

possible that if they do not, the reason is that they have not

been taught the truth forthrightly? Have we been clear and

emphatic in teaching Christian behavior? Have we spoken

about what kind of lifestyle God expects?

Several years ago, one of our members said to me, “How is

it that preachers no longer preach about alcohol? It used to

be that we would hear sermons about the dangers of alcohol,

but not any longer. Why is that?” I thought about that, and

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