Life With Others
Maybe we need to be placed in a position where we have to cope with other people's frailties so as to have a heart of compassion like our Lord, who knows?
Alright, thank you very much. And hello again, my dear radio friends. How in the world are you? You doing Alright today? Well, I trust so. Bless your heart. I’m fine, thank God. All of us have our problems as we go through life, but the Lord sees us through, doesn’t He? As I’ve told you so often, the keyword, beloved, is through. “When thou passes through the waters, they shall not overflow thee. Yea, though I walk through the valley, I will fear no evil.” He takes you through. He hasn’t brought you this far to dump you now. [chuckle] Hallelujah. Trust your Lord.
Well, let’s look at Ephesians, chapter four. Now, the Apostle Paul is talking about a worthy walk. The last time we got together, we were talking about the calling of the believer, the vocation wherewith ye are called. Now that word vocation means a way of life, a life work. Your life’s work is to be worthy of the name of Jesus. Had you thought about it that way? Your life’s work. Well, you’re a lawyer, you’re a doctor, you’re a nurse, you’re a school teacher, you’re a manufacturer, you’re a salesman, you’re a homemaker, you’re a student. What is it? Well, these are things that you do in order to get through life, but your main work is to be worthy of the name that you bear, walk worthy of the vocation wherewith ye are called.
Now, how do you achieve a worthy lifestyle? Well, he said with all lowliness. Now, that’s a long Greek word, “tapeinophrosune.” You like that one? [chuckle] That’s a mouthful. What does it mean? It means having a humble opinion of oneself, a deep sense of one’s littleness. That’s what my friend Thayer says in his lexicon. Having a humble opinion of oneself, a deep sense of one’s littleness. You know, in this day, when people are urging you to think well of yourself and have a good, as we say, self-image, and think positively, and think, be proud of yourself and so on, it’s a little jarring, isn’t it, to come upon a Scripture that says, “Listen, the way to have a worthy lifestyle, the way to have a lifestyle that’s worthy of Jesus, is to realize that you don’t amount to much anyway. Woah, boy, that shakes me up. [chuckle] I don’t like that. Do you?
Well, you see, the Scripture agrees with itself. I’m turning now over to Romans, and it ought to be right there in chapter 12. Let’s see if it is. He says, “I say… ” This is Romans 12:3. “I say through the grace given unto me… ” This is a word of grace. It’s not a word of condemnation. A word of grace. “To every man that is among you not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly according as God hath dealt to every man the measure of faith. We have gifts differing according to the grace that is given to us. So exercise these gifts according,” said he, “to the proportion of faith,” how much can you believe God for. Now you come to the nub of the matter. God is not in the business of beating me down. He just wants me to know that anything that’s worthwhile came from Him, and that anything I can accomplish has to be through Him.
Jesus said, “Without me, ye can do nothing.” That’s a pretty flat-out statement, isn’t it? See, God isn’t in the business of beating you down psychologically. He doesn’t want you to become a human vegetable and go into a deep depression and say, “I don’t amount to anything.” I always wince a little when I hear people singing that old song, “I would be nothing, nothing, nothing.” I don’t think that’s what God has in mind. He does want you to know that you can’t get anywhere without Him and that everything you have, my dear friend, is by his grace, the gift of grace, and that anything you accomplish is gonna come through believing God. “Exercise the gifts God has given you,” he said, “according to the proportion of faith.” The question is how much can you believe God for?
Now, lowliness. See? You bring all of that package of understanding to this word of living, let your lifestyle be worthy of the vocation you’re called. The vocation is to be worthy of the Lord Jesus whose name you bear, and he says that you start out by lowliness. You start to be worthy of Jesus by realizing that everything you have comes from Him and everything you can do is done by Him through you. “Christ liveth in me,” said Paul, “and the life which I now live in the flesh, I live by the faith of the Son of God.” The secret we preach, the open now revealed mystery that we preach among the nations, Paul said in Colossians 1:27, “Is Christ in you.” So there you have it. Lowliness is where he starts. You wanna be worthy of Christ? Start there. Realize that all you have is from Him and all you can do is through Him. That’s quite a package, isn’t it?
Now how else can I achieve a worthy lifestyle without lowliness? And then he says, “Meekness.” And that is a word that means exactly what it says. In the Greek New Testament, all the translations translate it as gentleness, mildness and meekness. Meekness is the willingness to play second fiddle. Meekness is the willingness to acknowledge that other people may be better than you, smarter than you, abler than you, stronger than you, and to take your proper place in the human pecking order knowing that you do have limitations. Meekness doesn’t lift up its head proudly and say, “I wanna be chairman of the committee.” Lowliness says, “I need Jesus.” Meekness says, “I need other people.” You catch that?
See, we all exist by the consent of others when it comes right down to it. Every advertising man has to realize that. I read that many years ago in a book that was written by the then, one of the then editors of Time magazine. I suppose he’s long since gone to his reward, wherever that is. [chuckle] But he said, “The first lesson an advertising man needs to learn is that we exist by the consent of other people.” And so when you write an ad, you have to ask why should anybody look at this? And after they’ve seen it, why should they read it? And after they’ve read it, why should they do anything about it?
So, back to the statement, lowliness means, “I need Jesus.” Meekness means, “I need other people.” Do you wanna take a moment and think about some of the relationships you have with people and begin to reconstruct your attitudes toward them in terms of why you need them? Oh, I know, you think about some people who were an accident going somewhere to happen and you say, “Who needs that?” Well, in God’s economy, maybe you do. Maybe I do. Maybe we need to be placed in a position where we have to cope with other people’s frailties so as to have a heart of compassion like our Lord. Who knows? You need other people. You can’t do it by yourself.
And so let me suggest two or three ways that you can establish a helpful relationship with people. Number one, look around you and see the folk that God has given you with whom to interact. Many of us go through life just assuming that everybody’s there, you know like the man who was caught in the hen house stealing chickens, and the old farmer came out in the middle of the night with his double-barrelled shotgun and opened the door and shouted, “Who’s there?” [chuckle] And the man who had been caught said, “Nobody here but us chickens.” [chuckle] Well, we go through it. Oh, that’s a terrible joke, isn’t it? Well, it’s old and it deserves a certain amount of respect for old age.
We go through life just assuming that people are there, nobody here but us. Now, stop and think, would you beloved, about the people God has given you with whom you interact, and then ask yourself this question: What do they need and what do I need from them? What should our relationship be and how can it honor the Lord Jesus Christ? And why has God put me with these people and how does that affect my life’s work? Just stop to think about that. First truth, you need Jesus. Second truth, you need other people. Look around you and start to survey who’s there, alright?
Second, form relationships with people around you that have a connection with the eternal. Find people with whom you can pray. Find people with whom you can be really honest. Ted Engstrom, my friend of many years, we used to work together at Youth for Christ, and now, of course, he’s gone on to World Vision and many other things. But he told me some years ago that they formed a little group of men that would meet early, early in the morning once a week, and he said, “There were just five or six of us. We’d meet to talk and pray. But one of the rules that we had to lay down was you’ve gotta be absolutely honest, gotta be open and honest.” And I think that is a helpful thing. Group therapy, of course, is based on that. Someone has mental and psychological problems and goes for counseling and put him in group therapy, what’s happened? They have to tell the truth about themselves, a grueling and traumatic experience for many. But that really makes a difference in your own life when you come to a place where you are actually telling the real truth about a matter. Find people with whom you can pray and people with whom you can be honest.
Third, if you’re going to cash in on the fact that you need people, then look around you in terms of those who can be of help and encouragement in the specific work that God has called you to do. For instance, a pastor, I used to take my deacons with me when I went calling. Did you ever do that, preacher? Find one of your deacons and say, “Go with me tonight. I gotta make a call or two and I just… I get a little lonesome by myself. Come on with me.” You know what’ll happen? The deacon will get blessed, and God’ll be glorified, and you’ll be encouraged and strengthened. On numbers of occasions, what has happened was after I went calling with a deacon, say on a Tuesday night, he, the deacon would get up Wednesday night and say, “Oh, I had such a blessing. Last night, the pastor and I went calling,” and this and that and the other, “and he’ll tell all about it, so blessed.” Well, amen. That’s exactly how it ought to happen. Find people who can help you in the specific job that God has given you to do.
Now that comes in answer to prayer, of course, in answer to eyes that are open. You gotta be alert and watch for it. But how many times, dear friend, I have found myself praying, “Lord, I need such and such a person.” I remember how hard I prayed when I first started out. And the college, we lacked a certain number of strategic faculty. One area particularly was in Math, and I needed somebody with a doctorate, and there wasn’t anybody. And, of course, we weren’t paying any kind of a salary. We had a few housing benefits, and that particular job paid, I think, less than $6,000 a year. Can you imagine that? Oh, that was in ’62, and nobody wanted to work for that kind of a salary in a district where rents and properties were very high-priced, Westchester County, New York.
And I remember getting down at the corner of my desk, and here was a stack of file folders that one of the profs had brought in who had been working on it, and I prayed. I said, “Oh God, years ago I made a deal with you that I’d be true to you in the Word and you’d send me people, and I want you to do that now.” Well, time is running out and I can’t finish this story in any detail, but I can tell you God sent me a man who was willing to work for the salary we offered and who had a doctor’s degree. And I’m just delighted, after all these years, to thank God for the fact that He gives you people that you need.
Dear Father, today, help us to have a worthy walk to honor Jesus. Amen.
Till I meet you once again by way of radio, walk with the King today and be a blessing!
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