An Honest Witness
Work hard. There is always something you can do to make a difference in your life. Living a life of integrity and honesty before others will show an effective witness of Christ. God honors those who are obedient in tithing.
Alright, thank you very much, and hello again, radio friends. How in the world are you? Yes, that little greeting establishes the fact that you and I are together again for another nearly fourteen minutes of sharing from the Word of God. This is your good friend, Bob Cook. I’m glad to be back with you. Honest I am.
We are looking at 1 Thessalonians 4, and the subject is pleasing God. He said, “We beseech you, that you would live and please God and abound more and more.” Abounding means spilling over because you are full. He said, “I want the quality of pleasing God to be the spill-over of your life. Jesus our Lord said, “I do always those things that please the Father. My meat is to do the will of Him that sent me and finish His work,” He said.
Now here, Paul says, “I want you to spill over the quality of pleasing God and make it part of your very life.” How do we do that? First, personal holiness (Verses 1-8). That includes my body, my mind, my decisions, my activities, and it does affect my relationship with the blessed, indwelling Holy Spirit. Don’t grieve the Spirit of God by disobeying God. If you want to please Him, said He, remember it is God’s will for you to be set aside for Him to use. “This is the will of God, even your sanctification,” which means being set apart for God to use.
Verses 9 and 10 had to do with brotherly love. Verses 11 and 12 give us a list of Christian values under the heading of pleasing God. The last time we talked together we were mentioning the matter of minding one’s own business: that you do your own business. And then he says, “Work with your own hands.” Hard work. Today, it’s called the “Puritan ethic.” Hard work. “Work with your own hands, that you may live honestly and have lack of nothing.” The fact is that no matter how poor or disadvantaged a person is, there is always something productive that you can do to make a difference in your life.
Just as I’m preparing these broadcasts, there is a news item in the press and on the TV concerning people who have no other means of existence who have discovered that the new law about recycling aluminum cans and bottles can be to their advantage, and they go and pick up these aluminum cans and sell them so they have something in their pocket, so they can buy something to eat. There’s always something you can do that will be of a positive nature.
Now I know that if you’re down and out and you’re listening to Bob Cook, it is very easy for you to say, “Yeah, little does he know.” Well, yes, I do know. I have been in a condition where I didn’t have enough to buy food for the next meal. So I know. But I also know that God leads you in answer to prayer. Even in those times of real need, He will lead you. He will guide you. There is always a positive step of obedience if you commit a situation to God. This is the way it works. You pray honestly about any situation, listen for what the Holy Spirit of God says to you, and then obey Him. Remember this, will you? There is always a positive step of obedience which you can take after having committed a situation to God in prayer, and in faith. That’s why he says, “Work with your own hands as we commanded you.” It’s not an option, it’s a command. Now why?
Here’s a little purpose phrase: “In order that you may walk honestly toward them that are without,” (that means unsaved people around you that are watching you) “and that you may have lack of nothing.” I like the way the Living Bible paraphrases it, and I opened it so that I might be able to share it with you. “This should be your ambition,” says Ken Taylor, “to live a quiet life, minding your own business, doing your own work, just as we told you before. As a result, people who are not Christians will trust and respect you, and you will not need to depend upon others for enough money to pay your bills.” That’s the way that it’s paraphrased there in the Living New Testament.
“That ye may walk honestly.” What does it mean to be honest? Well, number 1, tell the truth factually, number 2, imply the truth. There is a sense in which you can be quite accurate in what you say, and at the same time, be quite dishonest in what you imply. Have you discovered that?
During the war years, when housing was hard to get and when apartments that were available were oftentimes restricted in terms of people with families, they would say, “No children.” And this dear lady had been looking for a place for so long, and finally, she found an apartment that just suited her needs. But she had several children, and she knew that the landlord would turn down her offer of a lease because of her family. And so, she gathered her children up and took them to a nearby cemetery, sat them down on a bench inside the cemetery and said, “You stay there until I come back.”
Then, she went to the rental office and said she’d like to rent that apartment. And the agent said, “What about children?” And she took out her handkerchief and dabbed at her eyes, and said, “Sir, all my children are in the cemetery.” She got the lease, she told the truth, but she wasn’t honest. You get the point.
Young fellow, you come in at two in the morning, and at breakfast, your father says, “Hey son, what time did you get in last night?” You say, “Oh, after eleven.” After eleven, my eye! It was two in the morning! You told the truth, but you weren’t honest. You see, this is what Paul is getting at. That word “walk” means live every day honestly.
Now, who is to be the recipient of your honesty? Unsaved people. He uses the phrase “them that are without.” That means “outside of the grace of God; unsaved people. That’s what he’s talking about: that you may live every day in honesty toward unsaved people. Why? Because their appraisal of Christ is based upon what they see in your life. Do you follow that?
There was this dear brother who had built a huge business based upon reclaiming silver from the rinse-water of darkrooms operated by photographers. You understand the process by which a print is made. The sensitized material is exposed to light, and those portions of the picture that are registered are darkened, but the rest is washed away in the wash-water. So he got the idea of putting a specially-constructed filter in the drain of all of these photographers’ sinks so that he could reclaim the silver which otherwise would be washed away, and he made quite a business out of it.
I heard him tell this story; it’s been some years ago now, but it’s quite clear in my memory. At the end of one year, he discovered that in calculating what he owed to these various dealers, he had made a mistake in calculating the percent of the payback that he was going to share with them. Every one of his customers had been shortchanged, either by a little or by a significant sum. In some cases it was only a few pennies; in other cases, it amounted to some dollars.
Now it was the end of the year and he thought, “Oh, well, it doesn’t matter. Nobody has complained,” but he couldn’t get peace about it, he said. And as he prayed about it, he knew what he had to do. And so, he wrote to every one of his clients, enclosed a check (as I say, in some cases, it was just for a few pennies. In other cases, it was a significant amount) and said, “I have wrongly calculated the amount this year that was to come back to you as your commission on this process of reclaiming silver, and so I want to make it right, because I am a Christian, and I want to honor God in all that I do,” and he sent it out.
Well, he got some remarkable replies. Some people were surprised, some were delighted, some were mystified, and one or two actually made a trip to come see him to find out what kind of a person this was, and what it meant for him to be a Christian. He was able, then, to give an effective witness, and share Christ with people as a result. To be honest with the unsaved person is so important, because his or her appraisal of your Christ depends upon what they see in your life. By honesty, we do not simply mean accuracy, we mean honesty; the real thing.
People need to feel safe with you. They need to be free from worry and wondering what you mean if you say, “Good morning.” They need to feel safe with you, and the only way that people can feel safe with you so that they can trust you and ultimately, your Savior, is to find that you are absolutely, 100 percent honest with them all the time.
Then, he said, “That you may walk honestly toward them that are without,” (or that are unsaved) “and that ye may have lack of nothing.” This is God’s formula for success. What is it? A quiet time with God every day, mind your own business, hard work, absolute honesty, and God will bless you. Now that’s the formula that you find there, isn’t it?
Have you tried that? Before you tell me that I’m mistaken, and that I don’t know what you’re up against, and that the circumstances are different with you and all that (and I agree)…before you say that, have you tried God’s formula? Have you tried testing God’s promise given to the tither? A tither is a person who gives God ten percent of his income. If you turn to Malachi 3:10, God says, “Bring ye all the tithes into the storehouse, that there may be meat in my house, and prove me now herewith,” said the Lord, “if I will not open the windows of Heaven and pour you out a blessing that there shall not be room enough to receive it. And I will rebuke the devourer for your sakes.” God says, “I will take care of you if you do what I tell you.”
Yes, it pays to serve Jesus, said the old song. “It pays every day, every step of the way, though the pathway to glory may sometimes seem drear, He is with you each step of the way.” Just obey God, and trust Him to see you through. Well, we’ll go on in this Fourth Chapter of Thessalonians the next time we get together.
Blessed Lord, today, help us just to obey the simple directions you give in your Word and grant to us, then, that glad success that God can give His obedient people. I ask in Jesus’ name, Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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