Actions, Attitudes and Appearances

In Boot Camp, you would on occasion be assigned “Fire Watch,” which was an hour’s worth of either walking around the Squad Bay, checking to make sure all the M16s were secure or, you would sometimes have to go and monitor the Washer and Dryer where the Platoon’s PT gear was being washed.

I remember one particular post I was standing during the 2nd Phase of Training and I was monitoring the Washer and Dryer and on the wall was a poster similar to what you see to the right.

“If you were accused of being a Marine, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Pretty motivating.

Of course you would want to respond in the affirmative, but even more than that, you would want it to be so obvious, no one would even have to ask.

What if you took that same kind of question and instead asked about the substance of your faith in Christ?

“If you were accused of being a Christian, would there be enough evidence to convict you?”

Some would want to point to their church attendance record, others would be quick to hold up their Bible, but, similiar to the way in which you as a Marine Corps Recruit would want your identity to be obvious, you would want your relationship with Christ to be that blatant, if not even more so.

But what sort of things would you submit as evidence?

Fact is, your Bible and your being at church is noteworthy, but not especially compelling.

Unlike something you can hold in your hand, be it a New Testament or a calendar, what God references as indicators of your commitment to Him are measured according to your character.

It comes down to three things:

The way you act, the way you think and the way you look…

First of all, Jesus makes it clear that obedience is the bottom line:

Whoever has my commands and keeps them is the one who loves me. The one who loves me will be loved by my Father, and I too will love them and show myself to them. (Jn 14:21)

Just because you’re holding a Bible doesn’t mean you obey it. History is punctuated with “believers” doing all kinds of heinous things while hiding behind verses taken out of context if they bothered to try and quote the Bible at all.

Doing what the Bible says and applying the whole of God’s Word to your life is your starting point. Studying the Bible (2 Tim 2:15) and attending church (Heb 10:24-25) represent some of the more basic spiritual disciplines. But those should be byproducts of something that’s deeper and ulimately far more beneficial that a mere regimen.

Let’s take a look.

What you do…

And whatever you do, whether in word or deed, do it all in the name of the Lord Jesus, giving thanks to God the Father through him. (Col 3:17 [see also Matt 5:33; 2 Cor 9:8])

Christ is not a mere file folder, He’s the Filing Cabinet (Col 3:4). You want to filter everything you do through the Purpose, Peace and Power of Christ in order to make sure you’re knocking it out of the park every time you get up to bat.

The way you think…

May these words of my mouth and this meditation of my heart be pleasing in your sight, Lord, my Rock and my Redeemer. (Ps 19:14 [see also Phil 4:8])

How you behave is ultimately a manifestion of how you think. And it’s not “positive thinking,” rather it’s Profound Thinking that makes the difference. With “positive thinking,” you’re simply being selective about what you focus on. With “Profound Thinking,” you’re meditating on the One Who your circumstances answer to and from that perspective, you’re not as concerned about those things you can’t control because you can trust in the One Who is in complete control.

The way you look…

6 “If anyone causes one of these little ones—those who believe in me—to stumble, it would be better for them to have a large millstone hung around their neck and to be drowned in the depths of the sea. 7 Woe to the world because of the things that cause people to stumble! Such things must come, but woe to the person through whom they come! (Matt 18:6-7)

Eating Meat…

The “weaker” brother is not someone who simply objects to a certain practice, but one who is in danger of falling into sin. To illustrate, let’s say there are two 1st-century Christians named Demetrius and Clement. Both are former idolaters, now saved by faith in Christ. Demetrius shuns everything to do with his old way of life, including the meat sold in the marketplace, because, for him, eating such meat would constitute a return to paganism. Clement avoids the temple and refuses to participate in the pagan festivals, but he has no problem eating the meat from the market. Clement understands (correctly) that an idol has no power to corrupt good meat, and, for him, eating such meat is a non-issue. Then one day, as both men are in the marketplace, Demetrius sees Clement eating meat that was sacrificed to idols. Demetrius is horrified, but Clement laughs it off and encourages Demetrius to eat some, too. When Demetrius hesitates, Clement cuts off a piece and hands it to him. Demetrius—emboldened by Clement’s confidence—eats the meat. Biblically, both believers have sinned. Clement sinned by violating the conscience of a fellow believer. Demetrius sinned in that he essentially returned to idolatry—at least, that’s what his conscience is telling him. More importantly, Demetrius is learning how to ignore his conscience—a very dangerous thing to learn.

The principle here is that the conscience of a weaker Christian is more important than individual freedom. Doing something “permitted” should never hinder the spiritual health of someone else. (gotquestions.org)

You can get into some very subjective territory when you start talking about the way things “look.” Nevertheless, you want to be sensitive to how a certain behavior can damage the way a person processes themselves and the world around them.

This is what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 18:6-7. He begins by using the mindset of a child to illustrate the way you want to conduct yourself in the context of humility and trust…

So, as the disciples focus on what constitutes “greatness” in heaven, Jesus provides a new perspective: the way “up” is “down.” Meekness is required (cf. Matthew 5:5). Jesus exhorts the disciples (and us) to seek to possess a childlike modesty in addition to their faith. Those who willingly take the lowest position are the greatest in heaven’s eyes. A young child is destitute of ambition, pride, and haughtiness and is therefore a good example for us. Children are characteristically humble and teachable. They aren’t prone to pride or hypocrisy. Humility is a virtue rewarded by God; as James says, “Humble yourselves before the Lord, and he will lift you up” (James 4:10). (gotquestions.org)

Regardless of your age, the perspective of a child – one that is devoid of “ambition, pride and haughtiness” – is the one that is going to be most open to God’s Word and Direction and you don’t want to do anything that distracts them from a healthy commitment to obedience.

Thing is, though, depending on that person’s level of spiritual maturity, some things can be processed more according to that person’s life experiences than on the way that issue is presented in Scripture.

For example, in the ancient world, eating meat that had been used as part of a pagan ceremony was considered by some to be a sin (see sidebar). While others could rightfully process a piece of meat as being entirely amoral, for others, because of their background, it represented a sinful concession and something that could potentially lead to more serious compromises.

This is what Christ was talking about when He refers to those who “causes one of these little ones to stumble.” You don’t want to be so indifferent to the way certain people are processing your behavior that your example becomes for them a way to justify putting some distance between themselves and their Savior.

Just because you’re not doing anything “wrong,” doesn’t necessarily mean that you’re doing it right – especially if there’s the potential of some pain and problems resulting from a callous regard for the way your actions might impact other people. From that standpoint, you want to be aware of the way you’re coming across so that those who are legitimately vulnerable are not compromised in a way that can be traced back to your indifference.

Should you ever be accused of being a Christian, you would want the judge to be able to evaluate the indictment according to who you are based what you do, the way you think and the way look because it’s in the context of your character that Christ manifests Himself as the Purpose, Peace and Power in your life as well as the thing that has the most impact on those who have yet to know Him personally.

Court adjourned…


Related articles

Leave a Reply