Body Behavior: How to Act in God’s Household
1 Timothy 3:14-15
Introduction: Paul told Timothy in 1Timothy 3:15, “I have written so that you will know how people ought to act in God's household.” While there are right and wrong ways to act when attending church services, Paul is not talking about attendance manners but rather how you and I are to act as part of God’s household – the body of Christ. Stuart Briscoe explains that as a young man he joined the Marines. "Their magnificent dress uniform attracted me, and I thought that I would get one of those uniforms immediately. But they didn't give me one for months. When I asked about it, they told me, 'You are a Marine. The moment you walked through the gates, you became a Marine. You are a Marine to stay.' I said 'Give me another uniform then.' They replied, 'You are not fit to wear one yet. We will have to do something about your back, about your chest, and about your shoulders. We'll have to teach you how to march, how to walk, how to look like a Marine, and how to behave like a Marine. Then you can wear the uniform.' I was a Marine the moment I was sworn into that position, but it took me a long, long time to wear the uniform. "I was sanctified the minute that I was washed (in the blood of Christ). But it will take me the rest of my life to learn how to behave in a sanctified way." (Stuart Briscoe, What It Means to Be Real, Dallas: Word Books, 1988, p. 115) Proper church behavior includes Accountability, Compassion, and Transparency.
I. There must be Accountability
A. What is accountability?
1. Accountability -
2. The acceptance of responsibility for one’s actions and being held answerable for those actions.
B. Lack of Accountability
1. Psalm 10:13 “Why do the wicked renounce God? He has said in his heart, “You will not require an account.”
2. The lack of accountability started with Adam and Eve as each accused someone else for their sin. Their son also expressed his lack of accountability in Genesis 4:9 when the Lord said to Cain, "Where is Abel your brother?" And he said, "I do not know. Am I my brother's keeper?"
C. Accountability to Christ
1. Romans 14:12 “So then each of us shall give account of himself to God.”
2. 2 Corinthians 5:10 “For we must all appear before the judgment seat of Christ, that each one may receive the things [done] in the body, according to what he has done, whether good or bad.”
3. A passenger on a sailing vessel cut a hole through the ship's side, and when confronted about it by a fellow passenger calmly replied, "What does it matter to you? The hole I cut is under my own berth." – copied
4. 1 Corinthians 3: 9 For we are God's fellow workers; you are God's field, [you are] God's building. According to the grace of God which was given to me, as a wise master builder I have laid the foundation, and another builds on it. But let each one take heed how he builds on it. For no other foundation can anyone lay than that which is laid, which is Jesus Christ. Now if anyone builds on this foundation [with] gold, silver, precious stones, wood, hay, straw, each one's work will become clear; for the Day will declare it, because it will be revealed by fire; and the fire will test each one's work, of what sort it is. If anyone's work which he has built on [it] endures, he will receive a reward. If anyone's work is burned, he will suffer loss; but he himself will be saved, yet so as through fire.
5. After spending months writing his book The French Revolution, Thomas Carlyle took his manuscript to his friend John Stuart Mill for his comments. Mill passed the manuscript on to a lady named Mrs. Chapman, who read it by the fireplace on the evening of March 5, 1834. Before she went to bed that night she laid the manuscript on the mantel. Early the next morning the servant girl came to clean the room and to start the fire in the fireplace. Not knowing what the papers were, the servant used the manuscript as fuel to kindle the fire. The work of months was burned up in a matter of seconds. Some Christians spend their entire lives on earth building with wood, hay, and straw. At the judgment seat of Christ, many people’s work will go up in flames. They will be admitted into heaven, but will be saved “as through fire” (1 Cor. 3:15). (Kent Crockett, Making Today Count for Eternity, Sisters, OR: Multnomah Publishers, 2001, p. 85)
D. Accountability to Fellow Believers
1. Romans 12:5 “so we, being many, are one body in Christ, and individually members of one another.”
2. 1 Corinthians 5:1-2 “It is widely reported that there is sexual immorality among you, and the kind of sexual immorality that is not even condoned among the Gentiles— a man is living with his father's wife. And you are inflated with pride, instead of filled with grief so that he who has committed this act might be removed from among you.
3. Instead of being grieved and mourning over this situation, they were not broken hearted and became arrogant in their own evaluation of how this situation should be handled. They didn’t care what this man’s sin or their thin skins, thick heads, hard hearts and waging tongues was doing to the church and the testimony of Jesus Christ.
4. John Wesley was so concerned with building a righteous fellowship that he devised a series of questions for his followers to ask each other every week. Some found this rigorous system of inquiry too demanding and left. Today, the very idea of such a procedure would horrify many churchgoers.
5. Romans 15:14 “Now I myself am confident concerning you, my brethren, that you also are full of goodness, filled with all knowledge, able also to admonish one another. “
6. Who holds us responsible for living what we profess? We need accountability in our personal life, our relationships (with God, our spouse, our family, our friends and our work), our attitudes (about the events of life, self, others, money), and our decisions (before and after). It is very important that our accountability be voluntary rather than mandatory.
7. "We don't live alone. Our actions and deeds affect other people, many of whom we will never know." - Zig Ziglar
8. Romans 14:13 “Therefore let us not judge one another anymore, but rather resolve this, not to put a stumbling block or a cause to fall in [our] brother's way.”
9. Romans 14: 19-21 “Therefore let us pursue the things [which make] for peace and the things by which one may edify another. Do not destroy the work of God for the sake of food. All things indeed [are] pure, but it is evil for the man who eats with offense. It is good neither to eat meat nor drink wine nor [do anything] by which your brother stumbles or is offended or is made weak.
II. The must be compassionate Community
A. 1 Corinthians 12:26-27 “And if one member suffers, all the members suffer with it; or if one member is honored, all the members rejoice with it. Now you are the body of Christ, and members individually.”
B. Compassion is what makes a person feel pain when someone else hurts.
C. Galatians 6:1 “Brethren, if a man is overtaken in any trespass, you who are spiritual restore such a one in a spirit of gentleness, considering yourself lest you also be tempted.”
D. Someone said, “A person caught in a painful trap of sin doesn't need other believers to cluck their tongues and shake their heads at his foolishness. He needs a friend to reach down and release him from the trap.” - copied
E. Galatians 5:13-14 “For you, brethren, have been called to liberty; only do not use liberty as an opportunity for the flesh, but through love serve one another. For all the law is fulfilled in one word, even in this: "You shall love your neighbor as yourself. But if you bite and devour one another, beware lest you be consumed by one another!”
F. “Backbiting provokes biting back. Mutual depreciation is as destructive as mutual appreciation is constructive. The church that does not keep the peace will go to pieces. Alas, when the members of any church prey on one another and do not pray for one another! Praying and preying cannot coexist. Of necessity one must yield to the other. Which shall it be?” - C. Norman Bartlett, Galatians and You, Moody Press, 1948
G. 2 Corinthians 5:18-21 “Now all things are of God, who has reconciled us to Himself through Jesus Christ, and has given us the ministry of reconciliation, 19 that is, that God was in Christ reconciling the world to Himself, not imputing their trespasses to them, and has committed to us the word of reconciliation. Now then, we are ambassadors for Christ, as though God were pleading through us: we implore you on Christ's behalf, be reconciled to God. For He made Him who knew no sin to be sin for us, that we might become the righteousness of God in Him.”
H. Reconciliation isn't about shedding tears at conferences or saying "I'm sorry" or "I forgive you" every time we get together. Rather, it's about living out the character of Christ and keeping pace with the enduring unity that Christ won for us at Calvary 2,000 years ago. – Wellington Boone, "The Original Reconciler", New Man, July - August, 1997, p. 82
I. 1 Corinthians 12:25b “the members should have the same care for one another.”
J. For the sake of each of us he laid down his life—worth no less than the universe. He demands of us in return our lives for the sake of each other. – Clement of Alexandria
III. There must be Transparency
A. 2 Corinthians 3:2 “You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men”
B. Is what they see what you are?
C. Living Consistently
1. The Christian life ought to be open to all, transparent in the way we walk. We shouldn’t practice one kind of behavior around one group of believers and a totally different kind of behavior around another group of believers or around unbelievers.
2. James 1:8 “A double minded man is unstable in all his ways.”
3. A rather pompous-looking deacon was endeavoring to impress upon a class of boys the importance of living the Christian life. “Why do people call me a Christian?” the man asked. After a moment’s pause, one youngster said, “Maybe it’s because they don’t know you.”
4. There is a saying, “If you don’t live it, you don’t believe it.”
5. Ephesians 5:8b “...Walk as children of light.”
D. Speaking Honestly
1. We are not to go around saying one thing to one person and something else to another.
2. Proverbs 20:19 “He who goes about as a talebearer reveals secrets; Therefore do not associate with one who flatters with his lips.”
3. You have a tongue and a voice. These instruments of speech can be used destructively or employed constructively. You can use your tongue to slander, to grip, to scold, to nag, and to quarrel, or you can bring it under the control of God's Spirit and make it an instrument of blessing and praise." - Billy Graham, The Secret Of Happiness, p 65.
4. Proverbs 24:26 “An honest answer is like a kiss on the lips.”
E. Sharing Freely
1. James 5:16 “Confess your trespasses[a] to one another, and pray for one another, that you may be healed. The effective, fervent prayer of a righteous man avails much.”
2. The reasons many will not follow James 5:16 are:
a. Fear of Rejection – no one will want to have anything to do with me
b. Fear of Ridicule – everyone will think I am a joke and laugh at me
c. Fear of Patronizing Pity – people will think I am weak and helpless
d. Fear of Failure – people will expect more out of me going forward
3. There is no one without faults, not even men of God. They are men of God, not because they are faultless but because they know their own faults, they strive against them, they do not hide them and are ever ready to correct themselves. – Mohandas Gandhi