2nd Corinthians – Wayne Barber/Part 26
By: Dr. Wayne Barber
|By: Dr. Wayne Barber; ©2006|
|Working Together With God – Part 3. We’ve been talking about “Working Together With God” as we push our way through 2 Corinthians. That’s the theme Paul has brought up. This is part 3. Today we want to talk about “How Do You Identify a Worker with God?”|
How Do You Identify a Worker with God?
Turn with me to 2 Corinthians 6. We’re going to be looking today at verse 6 and the first part of verse 7. We’ve been talking about “Working Together With God” as we push our way through 2 Corinthians. That’s the theme Paul has brought up. This is part 3. Today we want to talk about “How Do You Identify a Worker with God?”
How do you know the people who are real? How do you know the people who are truly surrendered to the Lordship of Christ? They are workers together with God. And I believe you’ll see that in our text today. It’s not just in what they do; it’s in the character that’s behind what is done. The apostle Paul had such a burden for the Corinthian church. He so desired that it would just wake up and realize the marvelous opportunity in which they lived; the chance to be a worker together with God.
He says of himself and of his team in 6:1, “And working together with Him, we also urge you not to receive the grace of God in vain.” You see, when you’re a worker together with God you haven’t received the grace of God in vain. Paul warned them, don’t receive, don’t continue to receive the grace of God in vain. To put it another way as we’re reviewing this, we’ve already preached on it, but to put it another way, stop thinking of yourself long enough to understand that you’re here on this earth for a purpose.
You know there really is no difference in the 21st century, is there? The need of the church today is to have the same awakening in their life. Only when believers stop receiving the grace of God in vain and yield to the Lordship of Christ by saying yes to His Word and to His will, can they even begin to realize that He has a purpose for them, a purpose that started the moment they were saved and will last until the day they see Him, while they’re here living on this hostile planet. It’s almost like coming out of the fog.
We went to Slovenia years ago. Now I knew that was a part of Yugoslavia that had been broken up, but I didn’t know exactly how all that worked. So we landed in Slovenia. Did I know I was in Slovenia? Only because they told me I was in Slovenia. I never could quite figure that place out. It was foggy, it had settled in, we couldn’t see 40 yards in front of us and it was almost like it was down to my head. You couldn’t see above, you couldn’t see out. So we didn’t know if it was a beautiful place or not. They took us to the hotel. It kind of made me feel like we were in a pretty place; I could sense ice out there like a lake, but I couldn’t see any further.
For two days we lived in the fog. We couldn’t see anything. And finally the third day I got up and I pulled the curtains in the room and it took my breath away. The fog had lifted. Oh, my goodness! There was this lake, a huge lake, and it was frozen over and people were ice skating on it like a Christmas card. Snow was about two feet deep and we looked up and there were the Alps on the other side. It was Austria. And I’m thinking what a beautiful place. It was there all the time, but you couldn’t see it for the fog.
So many believers in the 21st century are just like the believers in Corinth. They’re still living in the fog. They think life is about them. Get all you can, can all you get, sit on the can, poison the rest. And that’s the way they live. They don’t understand that every breath they take they take in Him. Every move they make, they make in Him. They don’t understand that they’re here for a purpose and that purpose is not completed until the day their heart stops beating and they go to be with the Lord Jesus Christ.
When the fog lifts, a believer begins to finally realize that his purpose while being here is to be an ambassador for Christ. He is to be Christ’s official representative everywhere he goes. When he’s in the restaurant and he orders beans and they give him peas and they’re cold, wherever he is, Christ in him reaches out and touches that person. He is an official representative of the Lord Jesus Himself. And Paul tried to get these Corinthians to open their eyes, let the fog lift and understand what they were here on this earth to be about. He wanted them to see that they had a window of opportunity that they were so privileged in which to live.
And we need to realize that we live in that same window. In 2 Corinthians 6:2 the apostle Paul quotes out of Isaiah 49, which is the prophecy of Christ. And he says in verse 2, “At the acceptable time I listened to you, and on the day of salvation I helped you; behold, now is ‘the acceptable time,’ behold, now is ‘the day of salvation.’” And by using that verse he was saying to the Corinthians, “Don’t you understand the privileged time in which you live? That you’re living in the acceptable time? Christ has fulfilled the prophecy of Isaiah and now God was in Christ reconciling the world unto Himself. Behold, now is the day of salvation.”
And what we need to understand today is that we also live in that awesome time; a time when salvation is open to all who would believe. My prayer is for the church in America today that the fog would lift and that people would realize that they don’t come to church to be entertained. They come to church to be equipped. Why? To be ambassadors for Christ, to be ministers of reconciliation, to be workers together with Him. To us has been given the ministry of reconciliation.
Paul warned the Corinthian believers that their walk must match their talk. Their walk had to match their talk. In 2 Corinthians 6:3, “giving no cause for offense in anything, in order that the ministry be not discredited.” Just like Paul they had to have a lifestyle that backed up what they were doing. And this is really his heartbeat in this text. He wants us to see the character of an individual who truly is a worker together with God. So their adequacy would no longer be of themselves. We live in the new covenant that Paul has already talked about. He says, “I’m a servant of a new covenant,” as we’ve seen back in chapter 3. And he’s talking about new covenant language. Christ has come, now is the acceptable time, Christ lives within us, our adequacy is not of ourselves. I can’t do it, God never said I could. He can do it, He always said He would.
It’s not up to me anymore; it’s not up to you anymore. It’s only up to us to surrender to the One who will get the job done. Christ lives in us to do through us what we can never do ourselves. And when the fog lifts and we begin to realize we walk with Him, we work with Him; He lives in us to do through us what we couldn’t do ourselves, that’s when the shouting ought to begin.
We were doing a conference over in Vienna. A fellow from Russia came and he saw it. I’m telling you, there’s nothing any more blessed than a teacher who teaches the truth and a student who hears it. That “aha” sound. And he saw it; you could see the light come on in his face. And he said, “I’ve been so overwhelmed because I know I can’t do it, now I understand. Christ lives in me to enable me to do these things.” Well, he got so fired up.
And he got out in the middle of an apartment complex; the people live in these huge apartments, sort of a “u” shape. And he got out in the courtyard of that thing, took a megaphone and he began to yell out, “If you want to go to heaven come down here. I’m going to show you how to get there.” And the people came down, hundreds were saved, and it all began when the fog lifted in his life and he began to understand he lived in a privileged time, he needed to have a life that backed up what he did, Christ lived in him, he was an ambassador of Christ, had the ministry of reconciliation and that’s why God leaves us on planet earth until the day we see Him. The fog needs to lift.
Church is not about us, it’s about Christ who lives in us, doing through us what we could never do ourselves. Now we’ve seen the turn in the passage; from verse 4 on he shows you that once a person has the fog lift, and they begin to be workers together with Christ, that the hardships and the pressures begin to come. Now that’s the difficult part of it; that’s the down side. Nobody wants to hear this. In verse 4 the key to the whole passage is in this statement, “in everything commending” or presenting “ourselves as servants of God.” That’s the key to everything he’s going to talk about all the way down.
Now what does Paul mean when he says, “in everything”? Paul mentions ten things that we’ve already studied for which endurance begins the list and is the key one to all of them. In verse 4, by saying, “in much endurance,” he opens up the understanding that “in everything” includes pressure and pain that will accompany the people who work together with God. And Paul describes the inevitable pressure that will come our way by using three words. He uses “affliction,” which means the pressures which come from without. All of this is because we’re yielded to Christ. He mentions “hardships.” Hardship is that natural thing that is going to happen when you say yes to God. It’s going to offend some; it’s going to bless others. It’s going to bring hardship in a person’s life. And then “distresses;” it’s the inner stress that comes from the outward pressure on an individual. Every believer who is a worker together with God understands this. You don’t need any more preaching on it.
But he also mentions undeserved persecution that will be a part of being a worker together with God. It’s part of the everything. He says, “in beatings, in imprisonments, in tumults.” Now these things came into Paul’s life either from the religious authorities or it came from the legal authorities. They were part of his “everything.” Then Paul shows that there is bodily deprivation that must be endured when he says, “in labors, in sleeplessness, and in hunger.”
Now the “everything” that Paul talks about in mentioning this last three helps us to understand that Christianity is not a passive thing; that it’s very active; that it’s 100% our willingness to surrender to Him. No matter whether it cost us hard labor, no matter whether it cost us sleepless nights, no matter whether it costs us hunger and going without food. It’s a part of the walk with God; 100% our willingness to obey and 100% His power and presence to enable us to endure the “everything” that comes our way. But you see, in “everything,” now we know what the “everything” is now, there are ten things there, and the “everything” is not just what a person goes through; it’s the character of the individual who goes through it.
And that’s what Paul’s pointing toward. We live in a day when if it looks good on the outside, everybody thinks it’s right. No, man looks on the outside, but God looks on the heart. And that’s what Paul’s driving at here. It’s not what a person goes through. He can inflict his own hardship. It’s the way and the manner in which he goes through what he goes through as a worker together with God.
We’re going to see eight things in verse 6 through verse 7, two groups of four. And I just love studying Scripture because every time I get into it it’s so perfect, and I know God had to have written it. Nobody could every convince me it’s not God’s Word. All of these eight things are in the beginning with the preposition “in.” In something, in, in, in, as we have already seen in ten things before. You say, “Why do you bring that up?” Because that preposition next week is going to change.
You see, he’s saying something here that’s powerful, but the English sometimes doesn’t quite grasp it. And it’s a beautiful picture of what a worker together with God is all about. These eight things we will study today describe the character of the true servant of God. There are a lot of people going around saying they’re servants of God. How do you know the difference of the people that are real and the people that aren’t real? Is it the number of people they witness to; is it the number of tracts they pass out? No, it’s the character of the individual that does what he does. And that’s what Paul’s driving at.
So while we’re enduring in everything, like Paul, let’s look at the character that must be on display as being a servant of God, an ambassador for Christ, a minister of reconciliation. And there are two things and these two things are so powerful.
There is a purity to the servant of God
First of all there is a purity to the servant of God. Verse 6 he says, “in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness.” Now here we find four beautiful descriptive words that are a part of a wonderful truth. The word “purity” is the key word. Anytime Paul makes a list, the first word is always key. It sort of sets the stage for the next three that follows. And don’t forget now we’re talking about an ambassador for Christ, preaching the ministry of reconciliation. He’s a person who is a worker together with God now.
What about his life? It demands a character of life. The word “purity” is in reference to the motive of the ambassador of Christ, the motives of his heart. It’s the word hagnotes. Now hagnotes can be used for moral purity, but here it means sincerity. It’s when something, now listen carefully, is without any hidden agenda, whether it be personal, denominational or anything else. There are no strings attached to what he does, there’s no hidden agenda.
It refers here to Paul’s heart; to the purity of his motive and all that he does and all that he suffers. But purity alone, and this is something we’ve got to understand, purity alone is not enough. Good grief, that’s the whole key. No, it’s not, it’s part of it, it’s the beginning steps of it, but purity alone is not enough for one to be a worker together with God. And so Paul adds something to this. You see, a person can be pure in his motive and not have knowledge about what he’s doing. He can be sincere but sincerely wrong. He can be sincere but totally ignorant of what he’s doing. An ill-informed person who has a pure heart can be a very dangerous person in the kingdom of God.
Jesus warned of this and if you know the Scriptures you know this: when people would kill believers, He warned them of a day that people would kill believers out of sincerity, thinking they were doing what was right, that was pleasing to God. You say, “He didn’t do that.” Yes, He did. John 16:2, “they will make you outcasts from the synagogue; but an hour is coming for everyone who kills you to think that he is offering service to God.”
So Paul adds to the word “purity” the word “knowledge.” You’ve got to have the two together. The purity comes first, not the knowledge, but the purity comes first. But then the knowledge has got to be given. Either of these words that are left alone are very dangerous things. Knowledge without a pure motive causes one to be arrogant and insensitive to people. He might know what he’s doing, but has no heart for it, no burden, no passion for it. He works from both sides.
I was associate pastor in Mississippi years ago, and they assigned me to train the church in evangelism. And they called the course “Reproductive Evangelism.” That kind of interested me. So I said, “Okay, I’ll take it.” And we had 30 people; we had to have an even number because we’re going to send them out two by two. I saw that in the gospel, that had to be right. And so you can’t have 31 because 2 won’t go into 31 so we had 30 people. Cut it off at 30 people.
What I did, I found the biggest skeptic in our church named Tom. Tom and I were good friends, but he would question air. You had to convince him the sun was up on a clear day. He could make you doubt it. I’ve never been around a person like this. And so I said I was going to let him be the one, the teacher, because I’m kind of creative. The door to the classroom I made like a front door and I put a couch in there and I put an end table and I put a lounge chair. It was kind of like a living room.
And they had to come up and knock on the door and Tom met them at the door. Well, if they could get past the doorway that was a good move and they went in. And Tom, as the skeptic he was, would question everything they said. He would just drive them nuts to see if they knew what they were doing. For three months we did this every Sunday night, and I’m telling you, they just seemed like they were doing so well. And you know how people are, especially Baptists, they love certificates.” Oh boy, I got a certificate so I’m spiritual.” So we had a service one night and we were going to present them with a certificate for passing the class and now they were going to go out and reach the city for Jesus and we had the choir sing “Onward Christian Soldiers” and all the songs were built around going out and reaching the city for Jesus.
We turned them loose, prospects running out their ears and in three or four weeks I decided to check up on them. I called a meeting and I said, “Let’s just share testimonies of what God’s done.” And you know what I found out? Do you know how many people actually even shared with anybody? Whoever knocked on a door, whoever said anything to anybody, do you know how many people there were? Zero. “Well, wait a minute, they were trained.” And this is where we fail, folks. You can have somebody that has all the knowledge in the world, but if he doesn’t have the passion of the Lord Jesus Christ burning in his heart it does him no good whatsoever.
But you reverse that and you take a person that has the zeal of God within him and he’s just full of that vigor and you put him out there without knowing what he’s doing and they’ll chew him up and spit him out so fast it will make your head swim.
So Paul says, “Purity,” that’s your motive, sincerity of heart, pureness of heart, but then he adds “knowledge,” because those two things have to go together. The word “knowledge” is the word gnosis, and it’s the result of something that has been learned or experienced. We have already studied the fact that Paul reasoned with men from the Word of God. Paul was a man full of passion, but Paul was also a very knowledgeable individual. He could even debate with the philosophers on Mars Hill there in Greece in Athens. I mean, he could take on anybody because he knew; his mind was saturated with the Word of God. By the way, that’s the Old Testament because he was writing almost half of the New Testament.
He had the purity of motive, but with it he had the knowledge to go with it. We must learn this. The right motive must have the right information, folks. Now once this is in place, then we can tolerate any kind of person. Even when we’re afflicted, even when we’re persecuted, we’re going through the ten things that were mentioned earlier, we can tolerate them. We can actually have a love for them as we will see later on.
To purity and knowledge Paul adds the word “patience.” The word “patience” in the Greek is the word makrothumia, which means long suffering. Long suffering; there are two words translated for “patience” in the New Testament. There’s the word hupomone, which is the word we saw back in verse 4; “endurance,” it has to do with circumstances. But this particular word is very specific: makrothumia. It has to do with people. You see, we’ve already seen that nobody can predict the response of people when they hear the word of reconciliation. Paul said back in 2:16 that the word of reconciliation will be, “to the one an aroma from death to death, to the other an aroma from life to life. And who is adequate for these things?” You just can’t predict it. You don’t know who will respond and who won’t respond. But there will be people who will come very harshly and very cruelly towards you, but God enables us to have a patience to bear up under, to suffer long with people who treat us harshly.
And then to complete that beautiful first list of four he adds the word “kindness.” He says, “in purity,” which is the heart motive; “in knowledge,” which is the information that connects with it; “patience,” the ability to bear up under whoever comes your way, to deal and tolerate people that are just cruel; and then he adds the word “in kindness.” I love this. It’s not just bearing up under, it’s not just gritting your teeth, grinning and bearing it. The word “kindness” is the word chrestotes, and it’s that which has totally tenderized one’s disposition to where others are drawn to him instead of repulsed from him. It comes from the word chrestos, which means “useful, profitable.”
Do you realize what Paul is saying here? This is a person who is so broken on the inside and so tender in his heart, he doesn’t fight back, he just loves. And even when he’s treated harshly, because his heart is pure, and because the information is right in his head, and when people come at him, yes, he can bear up under. But he does it with a manner and demeanor that is awesome. Oh, I love that when I’m around people who live that way; I want that so badly in my life. You ask a child who has kindness in his life, kindness never is talking about what a person does, that’s another word. The word that’s used here is the manner of the person. It’s what a child is drawn to. If you see a child repulsed by an adult, I don’t care if he’s passing out tracts or witnessing to anybody, and you see a child cower down and back away from him, that individual is not a worker together with God. He’s faking it and he’s got a personal agenda in it somewhere.
How do you now people who are real in the 21st century? How do you know that somebody is truly working together with God and doesn’t have fleshly minded agendas? It’s a person who is pure in his motive, a person who is knowledgeable about what he’s doing, he knows the Word of God, knows the God of the Word so he knows the Word of God. A person who is patient but oh, much more than that, a person who is just flat-out kind to all people. And you know it takes two people to fight. He disarms every conflict by the nature Christ has produced in his life.
There is a power to the servant of God
So first of all there is a purity to a true servant of God. But secondly, there is a power to a true servant of God. And the power is not of him. He says in verse 6 again, “in purity, in knowledge, in patience, in kindness,” and then he does something. He adds four more things that take it even to another level. He says, “in the Holy Spirit, in genuine love, in the word of truth,” or as some people translate it, “truth’s word,” and “in the power of God.”
Now these next four qualities that Paul mentions are so beautifully positioned in the text that you may wonder at the order in which they come. Why did Paul put them that way? Remember, it wasn’t Paul, it was by the inspiration of the Holy Spirit of God, and it’s so beautiful. Of course the Holy Spirit has been involved in everything that we have studied, because He is the Spirit of Christ. But now Paul, for whatever reason, decides to lift Him up and recognize Him. You know, the Spirit never speaks of Himself, He only points to Christ, but he brings Him in to make sure that nobody is missing the source of where all of these things come from.
Paul couldn’t put love next without putting the Holy Spirit first. He couldn’t put truth or he couldn’t put power, because the Holy Spirit is the One that initiates all of those three things. All that a worker together with God does is in the power of the Holy Spirit of God. Now, I’m going to tell you something, maybe you don’t know this but surely you do, but when you yield to Christ, when we say yes to Him, we have just said no to our flesh. And at that very moment, the Holy Spirit living in us dresses us in the character of Christ.
You see, in religion you can work from the outside in. You can try to do this, you can do this, you can do that. “I can do it, I can do it, I can do it, I can.” But not in Christianity. In Christianity there is no possible way that you can love somebody as you’re commanded to love them. There’s no way you can be patient with somebody who is teasing you in the wrong way. None of these things are possible unless the Holy Spirit produces that character from the inside out. See, Christianity is from the inside out. It all has to do with your walk with God. Religion is from the outside in.
And so the Holy Spirit dresses us in the garment of Christ. And what is the character of Christ? First John tells us that He’s love. God is love. It’s not a quality, it’s who He is; it’s a person. And that love is the word that follows the word Holy Spirit because He has to produce it. Galatians 5:22, “But the fruit of the Spirit is love.” And it says in Galatians 5:14, “For the whole Law is fulfilled in one word,” and that’s the word “love.” But none of us can produce it; it has to be produced from the inside out and that comes from the integrity of a walk with God.
Paul says “in genuine love.” The word “genuine” originally meant “one who is inexperienced in the art of acting.” I love that! One who has this love produced in him can’t even think about faking it because it’s something that absorbs him, it’s something that constrains him; it’s something that captures him. It’s not something he does as much as it is someone who is love manifesting it through his life. The Holy Spirit produces this love which is Christ’s love in him for others. And it is this unselfish love that controlled Paul and his companions. He’s already told us this if you’ve been with us in our study.
Second Corinthians 5:14, “For the love of Christ controls us,” it’s not only captured us, it controls us, “having concluded this, that one died for all, therefore all died.” The Corinthians had treated Paul in such a harsh way. You know, I heard somebody tell me the other day, I didn’t realize this, there’s a place in Michigan called Hell, Michigan. Did you know that? I didn’t know that. Now, I’ve been there, but not in Michigan. I understand that phrase. If you would ask the apostle Paul where that would be, he’d say Corinth. Folks, if you lived in Corinth you wouldn’t want to join that church. Good grief, they caused him more pain, they were so enamored with the world and themselves but the apostle Paul, because of his walk with God, loved those people. He loved them.
In 2 Corinthians 2:4 it says, “For out of much affliction and anguish of heart,” caused by them, “I wrote to you with many tears,” all of those things were caused by the Corinthians, “not that you should be made sorrowful,” he’s talking about that third letter, “but that you might know the love which I have especially for you.” Now that’s God, that’s God, folks. You can’t teach a class in this one. It better be God working in your heart. You can’t love people who treat you in the wrong way, talk about you and accuse you falsely. You can’t do that but God can.
At least six times Paul affirmed this love for the believers that he had at Corinth in 2 Corinthians. And Paul mentions the word of truth that follows after that. You see, the Holy Spirit has got to be producing these things. He points to their source and then he mentions the love which is the fruit of his working in an individual’s life. Then he mentions the word of truth, or as I said earlier some people translate it, “truth’s word.” You see, the whole of the ministry of reconciliation is wrapped up in this phrase. Paul is referring to God’s Word. We know that because the power that comes from it, you see, the power of salvation is in it. I’m not ashamed of the gospel of Christ for in it is the power for one to be saved. That’s what’s in it.
And so he mentions the Word of God because if the Word of God is not there then there’s no power at all. You see, a lot of people get excited about sharing their testimony, and I think that’s wonderful; that inspires; that encourages. But it doesn’t convict; it’s the Word of God that convicts a person’s heart. When it goes deep into his heart and the Holy Spirit takes it and he realizes “I’m a sinner. I’m a sinner.”
There was a place that Trans World Radio told me about that was down in one country. One page of the New Testament, but it happened to be a page out of John, was lost and it was years and years and years later they went back into that area and found a church there, people saved. They said, “How could this be? Nobody has ever been here.” That one little page of God’s Word was where every bit of it had taken place.
Paul adds, “in the power of God.” You know, it’s God and only God that can reconcile a man to Himself. We saw this earlier, in Paul being an ambassador for Christ, how he reasoned with men but only God could persuade the hearts of men. I was so blessed in studying this passage, these marvelous eight qualities that so beautifully fit together to define an individual who is a true worker together with God. A lot of people are masquerading as ministers of reconciliation.
I don’t question the motive—I don’t think I do, I’m asking the Lord not to let me do that—but you know what we’ve done, folks? We have made how many people you baptize in churches a competition and the one who wins gets the prize. And we’ve shot ourselves in the foot. You know what blesses me? Last week, those two fellows that got saved came the following week and brought their buddy, and he got saved. One of them walked up to me and said, “My aunt was in the hospital, and I just wanted you to know, Brother Wayne, I went by to minister to her and she prayed to receive Jesus as her Lord and Savior.” I turned away from him and there was this couple and they said, “We’ve been gone for two weeks but let me tell you what happened. We’ve been at a family reunion in California and while we were over there we led two of our family members to know Christ, they prayed to receive Christ.”
I turned,… I’ve seen this so much in the past several weeks, but listen to me, listen to me, listen to me. You don’t put that on a piece of paper and parade it around as if you’ve done anything. What is wrong with us? These people may never join our church. Praise God. We’re not the only church; we’re just a piece of the body of Christ. Just let them get someplace where they’re teaching the Word of God. But we’ve done that.
You see, I was a number on somebody’s list. “Oh, how many did you have baptized last year?” I was baptized when I was nine years old; I came to know Christ when I was 32. You see a little problem here? Because there are a lot of people that do what they do with a fleshly agenda. Even though it’s a good thing, the character behind it is not what it ought to be. Folks, we’re in to be praising God, not men.
Let me give you this as I close. I love Bill Bright. He’s in heaven. One of these days I’ll get to sit down and talk to him. But he wrote this article. This is his words, his article:
“‘I don’t wear my religion on my sleeve,’ the man said, ‘my religion is personal and private and I don’t want to talk about it.’ The man who made this statement was one of America’s leading statesmen. He was a professing Christian with whom I was visiting just off of the campus of Harvard University where he was a guest speaker. I had just asked him to become involved with 1,000 key Christian leaders in a great worldwide effort to help fulfill the Great Commission. His statement startled me so I asked him, ‘You are a Christian, aren’t you?’ He said, ‘Yes, but I’m not a religious fanatic.’ Grieved by his logic I continued to prod him gently. ‘Did it ever occur to you that it cost Jesus Christ His life so that you could call yourself a Christian? It cost the disciples their lives also and millions of Christians throughout the centuries have suffered or died as martyrs in order to get the message of God’s love and forgiveness to you? Now, do you really believe that your faith in Christ Jesus is personal and private and you should not talk about it?’ The man answered quick as a flash, ‘No, sir, I’m wrong.’ And then he said with a new meekness in his voice, ‘Tell me what I can do about it.’”
You know what he can do about it? Exactly what we preached today: to be a worker together with God. It doesn’t start with me telling anybody anything, it starts with me walking with God moment by moment, day by day. Then He purifies my heart. Then He teaches me what I need to know. Then He gives me the patience to put up with people who treat me in the wrong way. And He so tenderizes my heart I can even be kind to people who are treating me wrong and have lied about me.
But it’s really the Holy Spirit doing all of this, isn’t it? And what it sums up to be is the love that He produces in a person’s heart that can’t be faked. And you see, that love enters into where the truth of God’s Word is. We don’t only love God, but we love His Word and that love flows out when we share it. And then the power of God to reconcile men to Himself.
So who are the real people today? Who are they? Well, I think Paul pretty well clarifies it for us. In my heart my prayer for you is that you’d be a worker together with God, and I want your prayer for me to be a worker together with God. I’m only 62 and many of you have got me way down the road. And some of you are about where I am and some of you I’ve got you. But let me share this with you, my prayer: I want to finish well. I think you do too, but you cannot do it living in the fog, thinking only about yourself. We have got to lay it down, lay the past down and let God be God in our life. That’s what God’s wanting.
I can’t do that for you and you can’t do that for me. I have got to decide, lay it down. You have got to decide. But I’ll tell you what; the best days are ahead of us when we say yes to Him.