Philippians 4:1 “Therefore, my beloved and longed-for brethren, my joy and crown, so stand fast in the Lord, beloved.”
*Our offering of obedience, manifest by the love we show toward others, will be the measure of our heavenly reward.
A conclusive statement such as this should be backed by a premise and so I must step back and explain why I believe what I do.
When I’m fellowshipping with other men, particularly in the setting of a discipleship format I typically like to ask a lot of questions. Listening to someone talk about their life can give a tremendous amount of insight into what has led them to the place they are in now.
“What is your story?” is a good starting spot when getting to know someone, occasionally the question takes them back but once I explain the premise of the question, the other person then reveals certain key points of their life that were meaningful to them. Sometimes I’ll ask a few follow up questions, particularly when I hear about a person or event that was particularly formative in their lives. The idea isn’t just to pry and and ask personal questions, the hope is that as I gain insight into the crossroads of their lives that led them to so much trouble, I can infuse the Truth of God’s Word into those moments of time and show them how it might have looked different.
This is how I begin a discipling relationship with others, by asking questions, listening and then becoming a sounding board of God’s revealed Word. When someone who is broken and hopeless receives the Truth of God it melts their hearts and allows them to see God for who He is and not how this world has falsely presented Him.
John 16:1 “These things I have spoken to you, that you should not be made to stumble.”
Jesus was and is a perfect revelation of God. How was He able to do this? Because Jesus is God.
When I look into the life of Christ and all He taught I’m struck by the manner by which He developed His own disciples.
- For one, He selected each of them, which means He had a purpose from the beginning. Jesus made it very clear that He came to do His Father’s will. It was the will of the Father to redeem mankind from sin and death, it was by the perfect sacrifice of Christ that we might receive His grace, and it was through His disciples that the Word was spread throughout the earth.
- With each successive move, Jesus demonstrated a plan. Whether it was how He went about confronting the world, breaking down walls of hatred, fulfilling God’s requirement of righteousness, revealing Truth, or establishing the Kingdom of God, each move was calculated and with purpose.
- The very short duration by which the Messiah fulfilled prophecy showed that God had a greater purpose after the ministry of Jesus concluded.
*We are a continuation of what Jesus began.
Fulfillment of Purpose
What is Jesus’ purpose for us today?
It is the same purpose He instituted in His disciples when He was with them.
John 16:5-11 “But now I go away to Him who sent Me, and none of you asks Me, ‘Where are You going?’ But because I have said these things to you, sorrow has filled your heart. Nevertheless I tell you the truth. It is to your advantage that I go away; for if I do not go away, the Helper will not come to you; but if I depart, I will send Him to you. And when He has come, He will convict the world of sin, and of righteousness, and of judgment: of sin, because they do not believe in Me; of righteousness, because I go to My Father and you see Me no more; of judgment, because the ruler of this world is judged.”
The continuation of Jesus’ earthly ministry has been given to us but He has not left us alone in the journey. Jesus sent His Spirit to inhabit our lives, empowering us to do what He did, to walk as He walked, and to continue the work of the Father that He followed so very closely.
This great honor has been bestowed upon us who have died to our old lives and have been resurrected into newness of life in Christ.
2 Corinthians 3:1-3 “Do we begin again to commend ourselves? Or do we need, as some others, epistles of commendation to you or letters of commendation from you? You are our epistle written in our hearts, known and read by all men; clearly you are an epistle of Christ, ministered by us, written not with ink but by the Spirit of the living God, not on tablets of stone but on tablets of flesh, that is, of the heart.”
An epistle is simply a letter.
We are God’s love letter to those who are walking in sin and darkness. God’s love is expressed through Christ upon the cross but we must not forget what led Him there.
The wages of sin is death, it is only by death that we can be brought into life. The Moral law is the standard by which we all have fallen short. It is this standard that when shared with the world makes them knowledgeable of their position before God. They remain in a state of enmity or hostility toward God and if they remain in this position they will most definitely lose.
We hold the answer, we carry it within the very substance of who we are, the Spirit of God is upon His own and it is by this Spirit that sinners are called to new life. When we love others, by sharing with them God’s standard of righteousness they find the answer, which is the grace of God in Christ, as we do so we fulfill our ministry and present to God a gift.
What is the gift we bring?
When we walk faithfully, we fulfill the purpose of Christ in us. This is how we love Him, by loving others.
Matthew 10:42 “And whoever gives one of these little ones only a cup of cold water in the name of a disciple, assuredly, I say to you, he shall by no means lose his reward.”
What else can we gain in Christ that we don’t already have?
For those who walk in the Spirit, you know what I am saying. Jesus is everything. There is more joy in fulfilling one of His purposes in me than a million ways that this world attempts to bring fulfillment by possessions, position, or worldly applause.
The statement I made in the beginning is fulfilled by the premise of God’s promise. His reward is fulfilled by obedience. We are allowed to partake of God’s love demonstrated to this world today and I believe that God’s fulfillment of love in Heaven will be one we get to partake in as well.
What will the crown of righteousness look like upon the saints of God?
I believe they will be as righteousness declares; the fulfillment of God’s moral law and that law perfected in Christ. When Jesus manifests His love through us, we get to partake in His glory. This glory isn’t directed toward us but through us.
This is what we will offer back to Him one day, our crowns of obedience. It was never really us in the first place, it was never for our glory, all we had to do was love Him by loving others.
One day, we will get to see the product of that love. I guarantee you, when we witness the glory of the Lord, we will wish we had done more that we might have more to give.
We have the opportunity now, don’t delay!