I have no greater joy than to hear that my children walk in truth. (3 John v.4)
One of my favorite characteristics of the Apostle John’s writings is the terms of endearment he used towards his children in the faith. John was their spiritual father and much like a physical father loves to see his children happy and prosperous, John loved to see God’s people prospering in all spiritual blessings. A common theme in John’s writings is his emphasis on truth. He is not only concerned that believers know the truth but that truth would always rule their lives.
The feeling John had toward those he ministered to is the same a pastor feels towards those that he shepherds and have been entrusted to his care. John emphasized the keeping of commandments as evidence of true saving faith. As we discussed on many occasions, Jesus said the whole law is comprehended in these two sayings: “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind” and “thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself.” A pastor has nothing else to use as a gauge for the spiritual welfare of the people. He must evaluate their service on the basis of its demonstration of walking in the truth of these two statements.
A pastor becomes very concerned when those that claim salvation are consistently urged to walk in the light of truth and yet they choose activities that are harmful to the cause of Christ. It is one thing to live in a grey area without understanding clearly what you are doing wrong, and quite another to know the error and be convicted of it and then choose to disobey anyway. This is not a characteristic of one that truly knows Christ. Even worse is to be told very clearly you are doing something sinful and not be convicted by the Holy Spirit. The scriptures teach that God convicts and chastises His children. Those that sin without chastisement are not children of God (Hebrews 12:5-11).
There was a time when Christians (to their shame) would keep their sins hidden from the church. The sin could continue perhaps for years and no one would find out about it. All of us at some time or another have probably lived in this type of hypocrisy. But “times are a changing!” Now to their greater shame, I am amazed Christians will parade their sins for the whole world to see as their lives are constantly plugged into social media. Nothing is more defiant of truth than to see filthy language and pictures, and sometimes downright meanness posted on interactive media. Purchasing a billboard on highway 101 to advertise sin would be no less defiant than church members that regularly update and timestamp their ungodly vices on Facebook!
Should we wonder why ministry is sometimes so difficult and ineffective? Sin in the camp is a destroyer of God’s work (Joshua 7:7-13). Thank God there is a remedy! Pastors would be stressed to the max and unable to function if we believed we were responsible to change people. This is God’s work and we trust the Holy Spirit to make the word effectual. When the pastor preaches about sin, it is not to hurt anyone. It is to exhort and correct so God’s blessings will be on your life and you will prosper spiritually. The pastor rejoices when his spiritual children walk in truth.
This article has dealt mostly with obedience to “Thou shalt love the Lord thy God with all thy heart and with all thy soul, and with all thy mind.” In light of the ever present social media, what about the second statement “Thou shalt love thy neighbor as thyself?” Stop for just a moment and evaluate where you stand with God. Who in the church have you “defriended” rather than forgiven? There is much to think about in these two statements of Jesus. Are you walking in the truth? Do you actually want to?
Pastor V. Mark Smith