What is it for you to be a Christian? –J.R. Miller

What is it for you to be a Christian?

We ought to seek to gather in this world — treasure that we can carry with us through death’s gates, and into the eternal world. We should strive to build into our lives — qualities that shall endure. Men slave and work to get a little money, or to obtain honor, or power, or to win an earthly crown — but when they pass into the great vast forever, they take nothing of all this with them!

Yet there are things — virtues, fruits of character, graces — which men do carry with them out of this world. What a man IS — he carries with him into the eternal world. Money and rank and pleasures and earthly gains — he leaves behind him; but his character, he takes with him into eternity!

This suggests at once, the importance of character and character-building.

Character is not what a man professes to be — but what he really IS, as God sees him.

A man may not be as good as his reputation. A good reputation may hide an evil heart and life. Reputation is not character. Reputation is what a man’s neighbors and friends think of him; character is what the man IS.

Christ’s character is the model, the ideal, for every Christian life. We are to be altogether like Him; therefore all of life’s aiming and striving should be towards Christ’s blessed beauty. His image we find in the Gospels. We can look at it every day. We can study it in its details, as we follow our Lord in His life among men, in all the variations of experience through which He passed.

A little Christian girl was asked the question,What is it for you to be a Christian?

She answered, “It is to do as Jesus would do, and behave as He would behave — if He were a little girl and lived at our house.”

No better answer could have been given. And there is scarcely any experience of life — for which we cannot find something in Christ’s life to instruct us. We can find the traits and qualities of His life, as they shine out in His contact . . .
with temptation,
with enmity,
with wrong,
with pain,
with sorrow.

The next thing, when we have the vision of Christ before us, is to get it implanted into our own life. We cannot merely dream ourselves into godly manhood or womanhood; we must forge for ourselves, with sweat and anguish, the beautiful visions of Christ-likeness which we find on the Gospel pages! It will cost us self-discipline, oftentimes anguish, as we must deny ourselves, and cut off the things we love. SELF must be crucified.

It is not easy to become a godly man, a Christlike man.

–J.R. Miller, (1840-1912)

 

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WWJD?

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Idol meat at market

Be careful, however, that the exercise of your rights does not become a stumbling block to the weak. 10 For if someone with a weak conscience sees you, with all your knowledge, eating in an idol’s temple, won’t that person be emboldened to eat what is sacrificed to idols? 11 So this weak brother or sister, for whom Christ died, is destroyed by your knowledge. 1When you sin against them in this way and wound their weak conscience, you sin against Christ.13 Therefore, if what I eat causes my brother or sister to fall into sin, I will never eat meat again, so that I will not cause them to fall.”

“Others may, you cannot.” There are certain things that other believers are allowed to do that are forbidden for you personally. These are not the “biggies” like adultery, or murder (or anything in the flesh, see Galatians 5:19-21).

However, there are the relatively small things of individual conscience. They are the issues of personal preference. Sometimes a Christian has the liberty to smoke or drink a glass of wine. Since there are nothing specific in the Bible against these, some feel free to exercise a certain amount of liberty.

In Paul’s time, meat that had been offered up to idols was afterwards sold in the markets. Some believers would buy the meat; others stringently objected to this. Their faith wouldn’t allow this.

“All things are lawful, but not all things are profitable. All things are lawful, but not all things edify. 24 Let no one seek his own good, but that of his neighbor. 25 Eat anything that is sold in the meat market without asking questions for conscience’ sake; 26 for the earth is the Lord’s, and all it contains. 29 I mean not your own conscience, but the other man’s; for why is my freedom judged by another’s conscience?”

1 Corinthians 10:23-26, 29

I believe conscience is how we are meant to conduct certain decisions. We’re to always surrender our right to do something that might offend another’s principles. Their faith should never be weakened by your actions or behavior. At that point– it becomes sin.

“Idol meat” (code for things of “individual preference”) should never be a stumbling point for other believers. Some issues of conscience could be:

  • the theatre, ballet, dancing,
  • internet, reading material,
  • sporting events, parties
  • parades, arena performances,
  • movies, TV
  • Halloween, solstice observances,
  • smoking, chewing tobacco,
  • drinking wine or a beer, (but not drunkenness),
  • playing cards,
  • medications, mental health services,
  • rock music, Christmas, eating pork, etc.

Perhaps the real issue to grasp is the manner in which we’ll serve another brother’s faith. I believe that that is the core point. Often the conscience has to be trusted to become the guidance we seek in doing the will of the Lord.

I may have throughly confused you, I pray that I haven’t. Just keep in mind that your conscience should be “tuned in” to the Lord’s Spirit. It is not an infallible guide. Great questions to ask when your wondering if it is right or not:

  • Is it loving?
  • is it God-honoring?
  • is it going to encourage a brother or sister?
  • what would be right?
  • does it edify (build up)?

Follow the Lord’s lead, “WWJD?” It may sound corny, but there is something of value here.

Your brother, Bryan

 

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