Being a Christian is Hard Work

Discussion in 'Spiritual Warfare' started by Ed Walsh, Aug 11, 2018.

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  1. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Most of you are younger than I, and hopefully much wiser than I have been for most of my 45 years as a believer. So I want to share a few thoughts on the Christian's struggle.

    I have discovered, albeit later in my life, both in experience and in the Scriptures that being useful Christian is hard work–the most laborious work you will ever do. I have also found that the work is more than rewarded both in this life and the next.

    The Apostle

    I think all will agree that the Paul was the most effective of the apostles. Consider Paul's own statement of his life's work in 1 Corinthians 15. After a very self-deprecating comment in vs. 9 where he declares that he was the "least of the apostles, unworthy to be called an apostle, because I persecuted the church of God," he followed up in verse 10 with a statement that few people could say. "But by the grace of God I am what I am, and his grace toward me was not in vain. On the contrary, I worked harder than any of them (other apostles), though it was not I, but the grace of God that is with me." Jesus said to his disciples, "...when you have done all that you were commanded, say, 'We are unworthy servants; we have only done what was our duty.'" (Luke 17:10) I could never dream of saying I have done all I was commanded. Could you? But Paul, knowing this verse, and knowing his departure was at hand, could still say these beautiful and enviable words in 2 Timothy 4:6-7 "For I am already being poured out as a drink offering, and the time of my departure has come. I have fought the good fight, I have finished the race, I have kept the faith."

    Some Rules:
    (Add some more. This is just a starter list)

    1. Know the Bible–all of it - (See all of Proverbs 2) Here's verses 3-5

    Yea, if thou criest after knowledge, and liftest up thy voice for understanding;liftest…: Heb. givest thy voice
    If thou seekest her as silver, and searchest for her as for hid treasures;
    Then shalt thou understand the fear of the Lord, and find the knowledge of God.

    2. Pray - if not in the Spirit, then, for the Spirit, and don't give up until you have prayed in the Spirit. (Romans 8:26)

    3. Beware of the Devil - Maybe we should discuss this? - 1 Peter 5:8

    Be sober, be vigilant; because your adversary the devil, as a roaring lion, walketh about, seeking whom he may devour:

    4. Fast - Luke 5:35

    But the days will come, when the bridegroom shall be taken away from them, and then shall they fast in those days.

    5. Love - 1 Peter 4:8 (this last is really the first)

    Above all, keep loving one another earnestly, since love covers a multitude of sins.
    Thoughts.
     
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  2. ZackF

    ZackF Puritan Board Graduate

    This post hit home as we discussed Ephesians 6:10-18 in SS today. How does one go through life as a believer? What does a 'flaming arrow' look like and how is it defeated, dodged or avoided altogether? What are Christian weapons?
     
  3. Jo_Was

    Jo_Was Puritan Board Freshman

    I have found Ecclesiastes to give such a simple answer, one that many young people ought to hear sooner rather than later before they get bogged in the anxieties that often plague us in our youth ("What should I do?" "Who should I marry?" "Should I do this degree or that job or live here or there?") There are a lot of questions in this period of life, but even as we continue to grow up. Should I have kids, how many, where do we live? What will happen to me if my spouse dies, where will I retire, will my children take care of me? We even worry of this life after death-- where do our belongings go, who will remember us, how do we get things in order before our death? It is an anxiety that can be endless if we do not check it.

    So, Qoheleth says it so bluntly, and truthfully:

    "Whatever you find to do with your hands, do it with all your might, because there is neither work nor planning nor knowledge nor wisdom in the grave..." - Ecclesiastes 9:10"

    And, on that, Paul says to the Corinthians "So whether you eat or drink or whatever you do, do it all for the glory of God."

    This is not to say that we live life willy-nilly, but that sometimes the question that you have posed can seem daunting, especially to the young person with many unknowns ahead of them, when, really, we should seek to serve God in whatever state we find ourselves. Ultimately, that in all that we do we ask how it is glorifying to God.

    My advice to young people is exactly as Qoheleth says: Find something for your hands to do, and do it to the glory of God.

    This has even helped me, personally, as I am that self-same young person who struggled with anxiety and assurance, in wanting to serve God, but finding it difficult to know "what" I ought to do, "where" I ought to go, and "how" I ought to proceed. But I took the words of Ecclesiastes to heart. In a moment of spiritual and emotional fatigue, I found something for my hands to do, though it often felt as a mind over matter situation of forcing my body to habit (in my case it was volunteering with a local organization) and through serving my neighbors as Christ has called all of us to, it gave me more focus on my own path as a Christian sojourner and helped me to grow in love. Sometimes, learning to live as a believer is simply the "living," part and being intentional about glorifying God in that living.
     
  4. LilyG

    LilyG Puritan Board Freshman

    This is timely for me, too :), as I have just finished memorizing Ephesians and am now working through some of Baugh's commentary. The precious finale of the armour of God has been on my mind a lot. Especially that this is HIS armour. And, be strong in the LORD, and in the strength of HIS might, and "stand, therefore," hold your ground. And, a reassurance that His armour is not some abstract feeling or attitude that you must conjure up. All of the wonderful benefits of Christ's objective work are already ours!
     
  5. Florida Reforming

    Florida Reforming Puritan Board Freshman

    Some of the previous comments remind me of something I came to consider later in life. Very often especially young believers become extremely bogged down in what they ought to do more than in what they ought to be. Cf Ps 37:23 The steps of a good man are ordered by the LORD..." and Ps 3:5,6: "Trust in the Lord with all thine heart; and lean not unto thine own understanding. In all thy ways acknowledge him, and he shall direct thy paths."

    (I hope this is not construed as pietism.)
     
  6. LilyG

    LilyG Puritan Board Freshman

    If we know who we are in Christ, how can we not react with gratitude by loving His commandments?
     
  7. Florida Reforming

    Florida Reforming Puritan Board Freshman

    Amen!
     
  8. LilyG

    LilyG Puritan Board Freshman

    Oh I see now. Think I was a little confused with your first comment.
     
  9. Ed Walsh

    Ed Walsh Puritan Board Junior

    Are you kidding? God is a whole lot more concerned with what we are than what we do. Love to God must be our priority. That is the usual order in Scripture. When God says "give me thine heart," there is comparatively little more that he asks. Love will lead to work. Work without love is hateful to God.
    Proverbs 23:26
    My son, give me thine heart, and let thine eyes observe my ways.​

    Here we have a summary of all the Laws as found in the whole Bible. Note the order. We have love to God first and neighbor (work) second.
    Luke 10:27
    And he answering said, Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart, and with all thy soul, and with all thy strength, and with all thy mind; and thy neighbour as thyself.​

    I think we Reformed should take heed to Paul, who I like to call the Apostle of Love. Yea I know that is supposed to be John but take a look anew at all Paul's teaching about love throughout the Acts and all his letters.
    1 Corinthians 13:2
    And if I have prophetic powers, and understand all mysteries and all knowledge, and if I have all faith, so as to remove mountains, but have not love, I am nothing.
     
  10. Pergamum

    Pergamum Ordinary Guy (TM)

    We show what we are by what we do.
     
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