We are bombarded everyday by thousands of voices telling us what to do. Go here, buy this, don’t go there, don’t buy that, follow me, you need …
As vibrant followers of Christ, we try not to listen to the world and the voice of satan (left in all lowercase on purpose) when we are deciding what to do. We want to follow Christ and His perfect will for lives. But it is hard. Just this week, I was asked by a gentleman in our church, “I’m just trying to get some help in understanding His Word and how I am supposed to be a vibrant follower of Christ.” Here is someone who is trying to listen to the right voices!
Simply put, conduct is our “personal behavior; course of actions” (Wester, 1828). It is what we think, say, and do. Not surprisingly, the Bible has a lot to say about our conduct.
Consider these verses:
1 Thessalonians 5:16-22 – “Rejoice always, pray continually, give thanks in all circumstances; for this is God’s will for you in Christ Jesus. Do not quench the Spirit. Do not treat prophecies with contempt but test them all; hold on to what is good, reject every kind of evil.”
Philippians 1:27 – “Whatever happens, conduct yourselves in a manner worthy of the gospel of Christ. Then, whether I come and see you or only hear about you in my absence, I will know that you stand firm in the one Spirit, striving together as one for the faith of the gospel”
Luke 6:31 – “Do to others as you would have them do to you.”
Titus 2:11-12 – “For the grace of God has appeared that offers salvation to all people. It teaches us to say “No” to ungodliness and worldly passions, and to live self-controlled, upright and godly lives in this present age…”
Hebrews 12:1-3 – “Therefore, since we are surrounded by such a great cloud of witnesses, let us throw off everything that hinders and the sin that so easily entangles. And let us run with perseverance the race marked out for us, fixing our eyes on Jesus, the pioneer and perfecter of faith. For the joy set before him he endured the cross, scorning its shame, and sat down at the right hand of the throne of God. Consider him who endured such opposition from sinners, so that you will not grow weary and lose heart.”
Colossians 1:10 – “so that you may live a life worthy of the Lord and please him in every way: bearing fruit in every good work, growing in the knowledge of God…”
So, as you live your life, you should evaluate each situation you find yourself in before you react. Paul gives us some clear guidance on how to conduct ourselves rightly.
There are six questions to ask yourself to determine if your actions are right.
- Is it profitable? 1 Corinthians 10:23
The “right to do anything” is asking the question “Is it lawful?” which means to be allowed by rule or customs. This takes into consideration both man’s law and God’s law—Man permits conduct that God clearly does not. Examples of this include homosexuality, adultery, stealing, etc. This is why Paul includes the second statement, “not everything is beneficial.” Beneficial means helpful or advantageous and implies appropriate for achieving some end.
As followers of Christ, we have tremendous liberty when it comes to societal norms and customs. However, just because something is legal does not mean it is always profitable for us. Whether or not it is profitable for others will be answered later.
- Will it build up? 1 Corinthians 10:23
Verse 23 ends with the word “constructive.” This means to build up or make near to fullness or completion; to make abler.
We must ask, is what we are doing constructive or destructive? There are some things we do that destroy (exercise) that are actually building up (lift weights, you are destroying your muscles, but then they rebuild, stronger, leaner, more flexible… so it is construction through destruction). However, we are to build others up. When you talk to someone, do you leave them more encouraged, or discouraged? Do you add value to them? Do you bring them closer to Christ?
- How will my actions affect others? 1 Corinthians 10:24-30
This question is a way to live out the second greatest commandment: Love others as you love yourself. Put others first; put their needs ahead of your own. We generally define love as “the commitment of my will to your needs and best interest, regardless of the cost” (Dr. Tim Kimmel, Grace Filled Marriage).
The examples that Paul offers revolves around food. But it isn’t always about food. Our choices have a direct impact on others. If someone knows you are a follower of Christ and they see you doing something you shouldn’t, it impacts them. They think you are a hypocrite or they use you as an example for their own disobedience.
For example, my wife and I try to eat healthy in front of Cora. My wife is a lot more successful than me in this endeavor. It is so hard for me. When Cora sees me eating or drinking something that she can’t have, she asks: “What is that? Can I have some? Why not?” She is a good accountability partner!
Another example of this is the consumption of alcohol. While the Bible gives the Christian the liberty to drink, we must be aware of the grip that alcohol has on other people. Alcohol has the potential to wreak havoc on marriages, relationships with kids, and society in general. How will your actions affect others?
- Will it glorify God? 1 Corinthians 10:31
Verse 31 instructs us to do everything for the glory of God. Glory is the manifest presentation of God’s infinite and majestic nature; brightness; splendor, amazing might, greatness. If we truly believed in the holiness and majesty of God, how would that change our actions, especially if we claim to be followers of Christ?
Is what I’m about to do going to bring honor or shame to God? The Westminster Catechism says “The chief end of man is to glorify God and enjoy Him forever.” Yes and amen!
- Will it cause others to stumble? 1 Corinthians 10:32
Our lifestyle and actions should not promote a person’s sinning. This literally means to place a block/rock in the path of someone else. Life is hard enough as it is without other people intentionally (or unintentionally) tripping us up.
When Paul includes the phrase “Greek, Jew, and church,” this implies anyone and everyone. We need to keep everyone we come in contact with from stumbling. So, don’t be a hypocrite; your walk should match your talk.
One of the downsides of growing older is the number of times you have to get up in the middle of the night. You stumble around in the dark, stub your toe, hit your knee. The solution is simple: Turn the light on! Now, you can see and are less likely to stumble. Our life should be the light, not only for our path, but for those we are walking through life with.
- Will it profit others? 1 Corinthians 10:33
This means our actions should give pleasure to or be pleasing to others. Is what you are about to do going to bring pleasure, joy, happiness, some sort of benefit to someone else (while bringing pleasure to God)? I wonder how much better our society would be if everyone honestly lived this out. Can you imagine how a government would function if the politicians asked this question instead of looking out to their own interests?
The Bible also encourages us to “speak the truth in love.” So often, we forget the “in love” portion. We hammer people with the truth, and it is not profitable. We also forget the “speak truth” portion with just as devastating results. We can love people straight into hell because we never loved them enough to speak the truth.
So, what do we do? There are two examples to help make correct decisions in 1 Corinthians 11:1
- Follow godly examples. Who are people in your life that you can emulate?
- Follow Christ’s example. How do you need to follow Christ more closely?
Please consider your conduct in light of Scripture. I echo Paul’s encouragement: “I urge you to live a life worthy of the calling you have received. Be completely humble and gentle; be patient, bearing with one another in love. Make every effort to keep the unity of the Spirit through the bond of peace” (Ephesians 4:1-3).
God bless your week, Scott.
This sermon blog contains material from Motivating with Scripture by John Regier. Used with permission. Scripture quotations are from the New International Version.
This blog was originally preached on Sunday night, January 15th, 2017, at Faith Bible Church in Colorado Springs.