Christian Behavior is a treatise written by John Bunyan that delves into how true Christians should conduct themselves in their daily lives. We have updated this classic into modern, updated English so you can understand exactly what Bunyan wrote hundreds of years ago!
The work covers various aspects of behavior, from duties in the family, including relationships between spouses, parents, and children, to broader responsibilities in the community and church. Bunyan emphasizes the importance of living a life consistent with biblical principles and cautions against hypocrisy. The treatise serves as a practical guide for believers, urging them to live righteously, remain faithful to their commitments, and reflect the teachings of Christ in all their actions.
Christian Behavior by John Bunyan
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This incredibly useful guide was first published as a pocket-sized book around 1674, shortly after the author was finally freed from his lengthy and dangerous imprisonment. From the final paragraph, it's clear that he felt his freedom and even his life were still very much up in the air. This wasn't because he was old - in fact, he was in the prime of his life. Rather, it was due to the oppressive government and likely the impact of his long stay in a damp, unhealthy prison.
This guide is the best and most biblically accurate resource ever created to help us fulfill our responsibilities to each other. It's written with unique insights and a passionate, devout sincerity that really sets all of his works apart.
Nobody can read this book without seeing a reflection of themselves in it. It's like looking into a mirror. Many people who have heard the word of God preached publicly have been amazed at how a faithful minister can not only describe their outward behavior, but also the hidden corners of their hearts. They've often wondered, 'How did he know what's in my heart?'
This book accurately portrays the habits and emotions of all types of people - the rich and the poor, those who openly profess their faith and those who openly reject it, those who fear God and those who defy Him. It's as if the author has been a fly on the wall in every family on earth, observing the actions of both the happy and the miserable in every social class. But he doesn't stop there. He also delves into the human heart, revealing its secret desires, feelings, and schemes.
You might wonder how an uneducated man could have such a deep understanding of the human heart, the most complex of all mysteries. Even if he could somehow leave his body and invisibly enter every room, as some ancient philosophers were said to do, there wouldn't be enough time to observe everyone's behavior, let alone understand their thoughts.
The truth is, the author had access to a source of knowledge that revealed all hidden things to him. He spent many years in prison, but he had a key that unlocked all the mysteries of the world, heaven, and hell. He used his time wisely, and everything was revealed to him.
He doesn't keep the source of his knowledge a secret. He invites you to explore, as he did, this treasure trove of wisdom. It was the Bible that revealed to him all the major events of time and eternity, all the hidden motivations of nations, families, and individuals. This amazing book made an uneducated craftsman wiser than all the philosophers who were satisfied with the teachings of Plato, Aristotle, Pliny, Plutarch, and other famous writers.
The Bible not only reveals the true state of human nature, suffering under a cruel disease that manifests in many different ways but always leads to misery in this life and the next. It also provides the cure, a surefire remedy against all the twists and turns of this torturous disease.
We have this treasure in our hands. It's a huge responsibility. Those who read and reflect on the Bible, praying for divine enlightenment and relying on the help of the Holy Spirit to understand and immediately obey its teachings, are truly blessed.
As our minds are transformed in this way, we'll be able to fulfill all our Christian duties and behave as we should. We can't avoid these duties just because they're challenging. Those who understand and appreciate the bonds of church fellowship, or the even closer bond of marriage, which symbolizes the mystical union of Christ and His church, are truly blessed.
Those who choose to remain single miss out on the joys and challenges that drive us to continually commune with God, either in heartfelt praise or in seeking His help to honor Him in our domestic duties. Those who choose celibacy are defying the infinitely wise God who said, 'It is not good for man to be alone.'
While it's true that the Apostle Paul advised, not commanded, a temporary deviation from the natural order due to the impending destruction of Jerusalem, this was only for a 'short time' and no one would want it to last longer.
We should not shy away from our duties, but seek wisdom to fulfill them. This book provides a scriptural guide that we would do well to follow. The author's fervent desire is to provoke us to faith and holiness before he dies.
Let's examine our behavior in light of the Bible passages that beautifully adorn this book. The author wrote it in anticipation of suffering and death, yet his soul was calm. His parting message to us and to those who outlived him is, 'Love one another when I am gone.' His loving labors for us are limited to this world. 'Although I will rest from my labors and be in paradise, as I confidently believe through grace, it is here, not there, that I must do you good.'
Let's consider what he has written and the Bible verses that confirm every sentence. May his final, fervent prayer be answered in our lives: 'May the Lord give us understanding in all things.
- GEO. OFFOR.
Christian Behavior: The outcomes of genuine Christianity
'THAT BEING JUSTIFIED BY HIS GRACE, WE SHOULD BE MADE HEIRS ACCORDING TO THE HOPE OF ETERNAL LIFE. THIS IS A FAITHFUL SAYING, AND THESE THINGS I WILL THAT YOU AFFIRM CONSTANTLY, THAT THEY WHICH HAVE BELIEVED IN GOD MIGHT BE CAREFUL TO MAINTAIN GOOD WORKS. THESE THINGS ARE GOOD AND PROFITABLE TO MEN.' - TITUS 3:7-8.
I'm not going to go into detail about every single aspect of these words right now. Instead, I'll focus on the parts that I think are most important for God's people. I also don't need to give a lengthy introduction to explain these words. They're straightforward and don't have the kind of ambiguity that would require such an explanation. The main point is this: Those who have faith in God should make sure they continue to do good deeds.
Alright, let's get to the point. To make my intentions as clear as possible, I'm going to set the stage with a few words for the main content of this book.
[This is a Faithful Saying] What am I referring to? Well, it's the statement that came before this, which is, "Being justified by grace, we should be made heirs according to the hope of eternal life." This is a reliable statement and I want you to constantly affirm these things.
So, those who have faith in God might be mindful to maintain good works.
What this means is, the best way to encourage others to do good deeds is by consistently showing them, through the evidence and demonstration of the Spirit, that they are assuredly made heirs of eternal life by grace.
So, based on this Scripture, here's what I've noticed.
Firstly, good deeds are a result of faith. Yes, indeed.
Secondly, anyone who believes should make sure their actions are good.
Thirdly, every believer should not only ensure their actions are good and do them in the present, but also strive to maintain them. In other words, they should make a conscious effort to consistently engage in good deeds.
Finally, the most effective way to encourage both ourselves and others to do this work is to frequently assert to others the Doctrine of Justification by Grace, and to truly believe in it ourselves. This is a trustworthy statement; and these are the things I want, says Paul, that you constantly affirm, so that those who have faith in God, might be diligent in maintaining good deeds.
Let's start with the first one.
Good works naturally come from Faith.
This can be seen in several ways. First, it's impossible for these things to come from anything other than faith. They either come from faith or they don't come at all. Anything that doesn't come from faith is a sin. And without faith, it's impossible to please God (Romans 14:23, Hebrews 11:6). Before having faith, every person is like a bad and rotten tree. And a rotten tree can't produce good fruit. It's like expecting to pick grapes from thorn bushes or figs from thistles (Matthew 7:16, 17). But when a person has faith, they become good and produce fruits that God finds acceptable (Hebrews 11:4, Colossians 1:4, 5, 6). That's why people without faith are compared to a wilderness, producing only thorns and briers, and their hearts are like the dwelling place of dragons - or in other words, devils (Isaiah 35:6, 7, Hebrews 6:7, 8). This is also why they're described as being without God, without Christ, without the Spirit, without faith, and without hope. They're outside the covenant of grace, without strength, enemies in their minds because of their wicked actions, and controlled by the spirit of wickedness, like a castle taken over by a conqueror (Ephesians 2:12, Jude 19, 2 Thessalonians 3:2, Colossians 1:21, Luke 11:21).
Given the way things are, it's impossible for all the unconverted people in the world to produce even one truly good deed. It's as impossible as expecting all the thorny bushes and briars in the world to produce a cluster of grapes or a bunch of figs. They simply don't have the necessary qualities. A thorn bush can't produce figs because it doesn't have the nature of a fig tree, just like a bramble can't produce grapes because it lacks the nature of a vine. Good deeds must come from a good heart.
Now, this is what the non-believer lacks, because they lack faith. It's faith that purifies the heart (Luke 6:45, Acts 15:9). Good deeds must come from love for Lord Jesus, but this is also what the non-believer lacks. Because they lack faith: for faith operates through love, and through that, does good, as stated in Galatians 5:6.
So, here's the thing. Even if a person who is focused on worldly desires does a lot of what they consider good, it's still rejected, looked down upon, and thrown back at them like dirt. Their prayers are seen as abhorrent, their efforts are considered sinful, and all their so-called righteousness is as unclean as menstrual rags (refer to Prov. 15. 8, Prov. 21.4, Isa. 60.4). So, you see, without faith, there are no good deeds. Now, let's move on to show you that good deeds actually stem from faith. And that,
For that Faith is a guiding principle in a Christian's life (Gal. 2:20, 21). It's like a driving force that propels us towards Heaven, guiding us on the path of righteousness (Rom. 4:12, 2 Cor. 5:7). It's also a source of strength, enabling us to resist temptations, fight off the devil, and overcome the challenges of this world. Our faith is our victory (1 John 5:4, 5). In a Christian's heart, faith is like the salt that was thrown into a polluted fountain, purifying the water and making the land fertile (2 Kings 2:19, 20, 21). When faith takes root in our hearts, it's like yeast hidden in flour, or like perfume that lands on smelly leather, transforming the unpleasant odor into a pleasant fragrance. This faith, once planted in our hearts, naturally inclines us towards holiness. This is why faith leads to a change in our lives and behavior, and produces good fruit accordingly. A good person, from the goodness stored in their heart, produces good deeds (Luke 6:45). This goodness, I believe, comes from our faith (James 2:5, 1 Peter 1:7). That's why faith is often referred to as 'The Faith according to Godliness' and 'the most holy Faith' (Titus 1:1, Jude 20).
2. Good deeds must definitely stem from faith, there's no other way. This is because faith alone carries a compelling enough reason to influence our nature, making us embrace holiness.
Faith lets us know that God loves us, that he forgives our sins, and that he considers us his children. He has graciously justified us through the blood of his Son, as stated in Romans 3:24, 25; Romans 4; Hebrews 11:13; and 1 Peter 1:8.
Faith accepts the Promise, embraces it, and provides the soul with immeasurable comfort. Faith is such a masterful persuader when it comes to reasoning with the soul, that it can win over even the toughest heart it encounters. It will simultaneously remind me of my wrongdoings against God, and His kindness towards me. It will make me realize that even though I don't deserve to breathe in the air, God still wants me to inherit His glory.
There's no stronger argument than this: it will drive a person to overcome countless challenges in an attempt to repay God (though it's impossible) for the grace He has generously given.
Moreover, faith will help me understand how uniquely God's love has chosen me. It will reveal to me that even though Esau was Jacob's brother, God still loved Jacob, as stated in Malachi 1:2. It will show me that even though there were thousands of others just as good as me, I was the one who was chosen.
I'm saying this, it's an incredibly powerful argument, and it really resonates with those who've done wrong. As the Apostle says, "For the Love of Christ constrains us, because we thus judge, That if one died for all, then are all dead, and that he died for all, that they which live (that is by Faith) should not henceforth live unto themselves, but to Him that died for them, and rose again," 2 Cor.5. 14. Love, according to the Wise man, is as strong as death; no amount of water can extinguish love, nor can any flood wash it away. If a man tried to trade everything he owned for love, he'd be completely rejected. Song. 8. 6, 7.
Wow! When a person who feels broken, dying, and condemned can, through faith, see the love of a compassionate Savior; and also understand what He went through to save them from the death, guilt, and hell they're currently experiencing and fearing - which they know they've fully and rightly deserved - then they should praise the Lord with all their heart. And what can they possibly give back to the Lord for all the good things He has done for them? Check out Psalms 103:1-3 and Psalms 116:1-14 for more on this.
So, faith is a powerful persuasion for the sinner. It pulls him away from his past behaviors and compels him to surrender and comply to things he previously neither wanted nor was able to. This is referenced in 1 Corinthians 2:14 and Romans 8.
So, this is why following the teachings of the Gospel is referred to as the "Obedience of Faith", as well as obedience to the Faith, as stated in Romans 16:26. It's crucial that I have faith in Christ within my heart, and that I submit to the teachings of the Bible. If not, it's all pointless, as the Apostle said, "The Word preached did not profit them, it not being mixed with Faith in them that heard it" (Hebrews 4:2). Only Faith can truly understand the reality of what the Gospel says, and this is why I say, it persuades the heart to accept it.
4. Faith is a grace that allows us to see everything as it truly is. Unlike doubt and ignorance, which can distort our perception, making us see things in a chaotic way, faith puts everything in its rightful place. With faith, we see God and Christ as the ultimate good, the most beautiful and loveable. It makes us value a heavenly life more than any earthly treasures. It drives us to strive for righteousness and sanctification because we not only see the death and damnation that are the consequences of sin, but also the sin itself, separate from its punishment, as something detestable, horrifying, and repugnant (Hebrews 11:25-27, Philippians 3:7-12, Romans 12:9).
By faith, we understand that this world doesn't offer us any lasting satisfaction or permanence. Even if it did, it wouldn't be enough, as stated in Proverbs 33:5, Hebrews 11:15, 16 & 13:14, and 1 Corinthians 7:29, 30, 31. This is why God's people have longed to leave this world and enter a state that is free from sin and temptation. It's also why they've endured so many trials, afflictions, and adversities. Their love for a holy life, inspired by the faith in their hearts, has guided them. This faith shows them the value and permanence of what is good, and the discomfort and evil of everything else, as described in 1 Corinthians 5:1-8 and Hebrews 11:33-39.
5. Faith grabs onto whatever can assist the soul in producing good deeds. It latches onto and utilizes the power of Christ, and by doing so, it overcomes whatever is oppressing it. As it says in Philippians 4:13, "I can do all things through Christ that strengthens me."
In short, a life of holiness and godliness in this world is so inseparably linked to a principle of faith that it is both absurd and ridiculous to think otherwise. What, should not one who has life also have motion? Gal. 2:20. If one has received the spirit of holiness through faith, should they not be holy? Gal. 3:2. And if one is called to glory and virtue, should they not add virtue to their faith? 2 Pet. 1:4-5. We are made good trees by faith, should we not bear good fruit? Luke 6:43. Those who believe are created in Christ Jesus for good works; and God has, before the world was, ordained that we should walk in them; should our second creation and God's pre-ordination be made void? Ephes. 1:4 & 2:10. Moreover, the children of faith are the children of light, and of the day 1st Tim. 5:5. They are lights upon a hill, and candles on a candlestick, should they not shine? They are the salt of the earth, should they not be flavorful? Matt. 5:1-14.
Believers are unique individuals through whom God showcases His grace and the power of faith to the world. Non-believers may read about the power of grace, faith, hope, love, joy, peace, and the sanctification of the heart of a Christian, but they don't experience the transformative power these elements possess. To them, these concepts are as distant as tales from Rome or Spain.
So, to demonstrate to non-believers what they lack within themselves, God instills faith, hope, love, and more in a generation dedicated to serving Him. Through these individuals, non-believers can witness what they fail to find within themselves. This way, they'll realize that even though sins and worldly pleasures may seem appealing, there exists a group of people who perceive things differently. These people truly understand and appreciate the glory that others merely read about, and they find joy in things that others often reject. This is the calling of Christians. This is how God is glorified. This is how sinners are enlightened, and this is how the world is judged, as stated in 1 Thessalonians 4, 1 Peter 2:12, 1 Peter 3:1, and Hebrews 11:7.
Objection: But if faith naturally leads to good deeds, then why do God's people find it so difficult to consistently do good deeds?
Answer: I would say, firstly, that God's people are productive in doing good deeds, in proportion to their faith. If they're not doing much good, it's because their faith is weak. Little faith is like small candles or a weak fire - they might shine and give off heat, but it's not very bright or warm compared to bigger candles or a larger fire. The reason why some people in Sardis didn't have perfect deeds in the eyes of God was because they didn't firmly hold onto their faith and the teachings they had previously heard and accepted, as mentioned in Revelation 3:1-3.
Secondly, we might be making a big mistake when judging our own productivity. A person who is honest and upright at heart, guided by grace, may see themselves as unproductive for two reasons.
First, when they compare their life to the mercy they've received. When a person truly contemplates the magnitude and richness of the mercy they've been given, they can't help but feel inadequate. They might say, "Oh, what a miserable person I am!" (Romans 7:24). They realize they fall incredibly short of living a life worthy of someone who has received such a great benefit. Second, they might see themselves as unproductive because they fall short of their own goals. They can't do what they want to do (Galatians 5:17). Third, a Christian's heart is naturally quite barren. Even when the seed of grace, which is the most fruitful of all seeds, is sown, the heart naturally tends to produce weeds (Matthew 15:19).
So, getting a good harvest from such land really shows how fruitful the seed is. Therefore, I've come to these three conclusions:
Firstly, the seed of faith is incredibly productive. It's so potent that it can thrive even in the most barren conditions.
Secondly, it's not faith that owes anything to the heart, but rather the heart that owes everything to faith, for all its productivity.
Thirdly, to become a more productive Christian, you need to strengthen your faith.
Now, let's move on to the second point, which is, everyone who believes should make sure their actions are good. This naturally follows from what we just discussed, that a Christian's heart can sometimes produce undesirable results.
Even the best of saints have both flesh and spirit. Just as the spirit of grace constantly encourages good, the flesh continuously promotes what is evil.
The flesh often desires things that are against the Spirit, just as the Spirit desires things that are against the body, as mentioned in Galatians 5:17. This is why you'll often see in the Bible, numerous reminders and warnings for Christians to be mindful of their actions and behavior. For example, Proverbs 4:23 advises us to guard our hearts with all diligence. In 1 Corinthians 16:13, we're told to stay alert, stand firm in our faith, act courageously, and be strong. We're also warned in Galatians 6:7-8 not to be fooled, because God cannot be mocked. Whatever a person plants, that's what they'll harvest. If you plant in the field of your sinful nature, you will harvest death. But if you plant in the field of the Spirit, you will harvest eternal life.
Not everything that appears good is actually good. It's one thing for a person to believe their actions are right, but it's another thing for those actions to be right in God's eyes. Often, what people highly value is considered abhorrent in God's view, as stated in Proverbs 30:12 and Luke 16:15.
Given that corruption is still a part of our nature, we tend to build on the right foundation with inferior materials like wood, hay, and stubble, instead of superior ones like gold, silver, and precious stones, as mentioned in 1 Corinthians 3:11, 13-15. How were King David, Prophet Nathan, and Priest Uzza misled about good deeds? Refer to 1 Chronicles 17:1-4 and 1 Chronicles 13:9-11 for more details. Even Peter, in his attempts to defend his Master in the Garden and dissuade him from his sufferings, was misguided about good deeds, despite his love and affection for his Master. You can find more about this in Matthew 16:22, 23 and John 18:9, 10.
Many people have made mistakes when it comes to doctrine, worship, and the pursuit of each.
1. Regarding Doctrine. Christ informed the Jews that what they were teaching as God's doctrines were actually doctrines and traditions of men, as mentioned in Matthew 15 and Mark 7. Similarly, the Apostle said that they were teaching things they shouldn't, all for the sake of dishonest gain, as stated in Titus 1:11.
2. Also, regarding worship, we often see how people have misunderstood the when, where, and what of their worship.
1. As for time, it's been something that humans have come up with, not something God has ordered, as stated in 1 Kings 12:32. Isaiah says that they alter the rules, as per Isaiah 24:5. Ezekiel says they turn God's verdicts into evil deeds, according to Ezekiel 5:6.
2. Regarding the location, instead of worshipping in Jerusalem as they should have, they worshipped in Bethel, Gilgal, and Dan, as well as in gardens under poplar and elm trees. You can find references to this in 1 Kings 12: 26-29; Hosea 4:13-15; and Isaiah 65:2-5.
3. Regarding the issue of their worship, they didn't follow the commandments. Instead of offering the prescribed sacrifices, they presented the lame, the injured, and the sick. They chose to purify themselves in gardens, with pork and mice, when they should have done it in Jerusalem, with bulls and lambs, as mentioned in Isaiah 66:17.
Regarding people's fervor in pursuing their beliefs and worship, which they believe to be correct: How intense it has been, even without any logical reason. Nebuchadnezzar had his fiery furnace and Darius had his lion's den for those who didn't conform, as mentioned in Daniel 3:6 and 6:7, etc.
They've chased people to unfamiliar cities, setting traps and snares at every turn to catch them in their words. If they could, they'd eliminate anyone who disagrees with them, thinking they're doing God a favor, as mentioned in Acts 26:11, Luke 11:53, 54, and John 16:1, 2. But we don't have to look far to see this in action. I'm not just making this up - we can see it clearly in the actions of the Catholics and their allies. Throughout history, how many have they hanged, burned, starved, drowned, tortured, dismembered, and killed, both publicly and in secret? And they do all this under the guise of worshiping God and doing good deeds.
So, you can see how both smart people and fools, saints and sinners, Christians and non-believers, have made mistakes when it comes to doing good deeds. That's why everyone should make sure that their actions are genuinely good.
So, to avoid any mishaps in this matter, if God allows, I'm going to explain to you what it means for a work to be genuinely good.
Firstly, any good work should be based on the authority of the Word.
Secondly, as previously mentioned, it must stem from faith.
Thirdly, it has to be both correctly timed and properly placed.
Fourthly, it has to be done. You should do it willingly, cheerfully, and so on.
1. It needs to be backed up by the Word.
Zeal without understanding is like a blind, runaway horse, or like a sword in the hands of a madman. And there can be no true understanding without the Word. Because if they disregard the Word of the Lord, and don't act according to it, what wisdom do they really have? As the Prophet Jeremiah 8:9 and Isaiah 8:20 suggest. So, make sure you have the Word as your guide in all you do.
2. Just as you need the Word to validate your actions, you also need Faith, from which your actions should stem, as I've mentioned before. Anything that doesn't come from faith is considered a sin, and without faith, it's impossible to please God. Now, I'm saying that without the Word, there's no Faith, as stated in Romans 10:17. So, no matter what people claim, without Faith, there's no goodness.
3. Just like it needs the two previously mentioned things, it also needs, firstly, the correct time, and secondly, the right place.
1. Timing is everything: Not every task should be done at any given time, as not all times are suitable for all tasks. There's a time for everything, and everything is perfect in its own time, as stated in Ecclesiastes 3:1-11. There's a time to pray, a time to listen, a time to read, a time to discuss, a time to reflect, a time to act, and a time to endure. It's not ideal to be listening when we should be preaching and acting - that is, actively obeying - when we should be enduring. Jesus was careful to ensure that his actions and sufferings were appropriately timed, as seen in John 2:3-4 and 13:1-2, and we should strive to follow his example. It's not good to be out in the field plowing when I should be listening to the Word, and it's just as bad to be out chatting when I should be teaching my family at home. As Ecclesiastes 8:5 says, those who obey the commandments won't experience any harm, and a wise person can discern both the right time and the right judgment. Good things done at the wrong time can end up being fruitless, unproductive, and pointless.
2. Just like everything needs the right timing, it also needs to be in the right place. Messing up the placement of something can be just as bad as messing up its timing.
What I mean when I say that good things must be properly prioritized is that we shouldn't give more or less importance to any task than what the Bible permits. For instance, mint, anise, and cumin aren't as significant as faith and the love of God, as mentioned in Matthew 23:23. If a pastor is performing the duties of a deacon instead of his own pastoral duties, that's a misallocation of tasks, as per Acts 6:2. Similarly, Martha was wrong to focus on physically providing for Christ when she should have been listening to his teachings. If her sister had done the same upon Martha's request, even though the act itself was good, it would have been a mistake on her part too, as per Luke 10:39, 40, 41, 42.
Now, to avoid misusing good deeds, take note,
Firstly, those who put them in place of Christ are making a mistake, as stated in Romans 10:1, 2, 3.
Secondly, they also make a mistake by considering them as equal partners with Him, as mentioned in Romans 9:31-32 and Acts 15:1.
This means that we're aligning our actions with God's commands, and comparing our righteousness to Christ's righteousness, as mentioned in Ezekiel 43:7-8. However, some people are said to be teachers of the Law, but they don't really understand what they're talking about or what they're asserting, just like it's said in 1 Timothy 1:7.
Thirdly, there are also those who incorrectly assign value to tasks, giving more importance to less significant work than what's due to a more noble task. These include: 1. Those who believe the ceremonial aspect of an ordinance is as valuable as its teachings and meaning.
2. Those who consider the commands and urges of a simple natural conscience to be as good, as elevated, and as divine as the guidance and actions of the Spirit of Christ.
3. Those who believe it's sufficient to do just a bit of what God has commanded (and that bit, possibly the least important instead of everything, and the more crucial and significant things.
Fourthly, they seriously misjudge when they rank things that are indifferent as highly as those that are absolutely necessary in the worship of God.
5. But those are even more misguided who put human traditions above their own beliefs.
6. And the biggest offender of all, who swaps bitter for sweet, and darkness for light. We must steer clear of all these things, as they are complete roadblocks to doing good deeds.
So, when it comes to good deeds, following God's word is better than just doing things based on what you think is right, as said in 1 Samuel 15:22. Therefore, make sure everything you do is done in a proper and orderly manner, as stated in 1 Corinthians 14:40.
Just like we discussed earlier about how good deeds should be planned and executed, they should also come from the heart. You should do them willingly and cheerfully, with simplicity and kindness, based on what you can afford. This is in line with the teachings in 1 John 5:3, 2 Corinthians 9:7, Romans 12:8, Colossians 3:20, 1 Corinthians 10:14, and 1 Corinthians 8:12.
Moreover, there are three things that a person should keep in mind in every task they undertake.
1. The honor of God, 1 Corinthians 6:20.
2. The edification of his neighbor, 1 Cor. 14:26.
3. Whether what I'm about to do is appropriate or not, as per 1 Corinthians 6:12. Always remember this: God's honor is tied to how you help your neighbor grow; and helping your neighbor grow depends on how suitable your actions are.
If you want to positively influence those around you and honor God, keep these things in mind:
1. Make sure your words and actions reflect Christ's teachings clearly.
2. Be careful not to get into complex or controversial topics with those who are new to the faith. Instead, focus on helping them understand the basics of their faith, like their salvation and freedom from eternal punishment.
Remember, it's important to encourage those who are struggling and strengthen those who are weak in their faith (1 Thess 5:14).
2. If you're stronger than your brother, be careful not to do anything in front of him that might upset his sensitive conscience. I'm talking about things that might be perfectly fine for you to do: just because something is allowed doesn't mean it's beneficial or builds up others, as stated in 1 Corinthians 6:12. So, it's wise and loving of you to hold back on certain things for your brother's sake, as suggested in 1 Corinthians 8:13. Paul himself said he wouldn't eat meat as long as the world exists, to avoid causing his brother to stumble. So, keep this faith to yourself in front of God, as Romans 14:22 advises. But if you act differently, remember, you're not acting out of love, and you're not building up others, and you're not honoring Christ. Instead, you're sinning against Christ and hurting your weak brother, for whom Christ died, as Romans 14:15 and 1 Corinthians 8:12 warn.
But what I'm saying is, always keep your focus on the Word. Be careful not to go against it for any reason whatsoever. Because without the Word, you can't glorify God or help your fellow man. So, be smart and walk the right path, as mentioned in Psalms 101:2, 3.
So, I've briefly explained what truly good deeds are. I urge you, in the name of Lord Jesus Christ, to consciously perform these good deeds. This way, while you're alive, you can be vessels of honor, ready for the Master's use, and prepared for every good deed, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 6:17. Strive to approve things that are excellent, so you can be sincere and without offense until the Day of Christ, as stated in Philippians 1:10. Desire a deep connection with God; eagerly seek the best gifts, as suggested in 1 Corinthians 12:31. We, who are redeemed from among men as per Revelation 14:4, and rejoice in the hope of God's glory according to Romans 5:2, we who anticipate the blessed hope and the glorious appearance of the Great God and our Savior Jesus Christ, as per Titus 2:13. What kind of people should we be in all our conversations and in our devotion to God? As asked in 2 Peter 3:11.
To wrap it up, for your additional understanding, here's a simple rundown of your various general responsibilities and tasks. These are the ones that God commits you to in His Word, according to your roles, professions, and relationships in this world.
For the Head of the Family
If you have a family under your care, you need to consider the various roles you play. You should know that in each of these roles, you have a responsibility to do work for God and He expects you to faithfully carry out these duties.
Responsibility to the Family in General
So, generally speaking, if you're the head of a household, you have a job to do for God under that role. That job is to properly manage your own family. And this job is twofold.
1. Touching the spiritual state of it.
2. Touching the external.
When it comes to the spiritual well-being of his family, he should be very diligent and careful. He should do his best to strengthen faith where it has started, and to initiate it where it hasn't.
So, with this goal in mind, he should regularly and diligently share with his family the teachings of God from His Word that are appropriate for each individual. No one should doubt his authority in using the Word of God for such a purpose. Even if the matter were simply about good behavior or promoting honesty, it's within the scope of natural duty and should be done, let alone things of a higher nature. Besides, the Apostle encourages us to focus on whatever is honest, true, just, and of good reputation, and to make sure we act on them, as mentioned in Philippians 4:8. Engaging in this spiritual activity within our family is highly commendable and is fitting for all Christians. This is one of the reasons why God praised His servant Abraham so highly and why it touched His heart so deeply. God said, 'I know Abraham, (I know he is a truly good man) because he will instruct his children and his household after him, and they will follow the way of the Lord,' as stated in Genesis 18:19. This was also something that the good Joshua planned to do for as long as he lived: 'As for me and my household, we will serve the Lord,' as he declared in Joshua 24:15.
Furthermore, we also see in the New Testament that those who don't pay proper attention to this duty are viewed as Christians of a lower rank. They're even considered unsuitable for any position within the Church of God. A pastor should be someone who manages his own household well, keeping his children under control with all seriousness. After all, if a man can't handle his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God? The same goes for deacons. They should be married to one woman and manage their children and households well, as stated in 1 Timothy 3. Notice how the Apostle implies that a man who manages his family well has one of the necessary qualifications to be a pastor or deacon in the House of God. If he can't manage his own household, how can he take care of the Church of God? Considering this, it sheds light on the role of the head of a household in terms of managing his home.
1. So, a pastor must have solid and uncorrupted Doctrine. And honestly, the same goes for the head of a family, as stated in Titus 1:9 and Ephesians 6:4.
2. A pastor should be skilled in teaching, correcting, and encouraging others. The same goes for the head of a family, as stated in 1 Timothy 3:2 and Deuteronomy 6:7.
3. A pastor should be a role model in faith and holiness. Similarly, the head of a family should also uphold these values, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 3:2, 3, 4, and 4:12.
David says, "I will act in a flawless manner; I will conduct myself with integrity in my own home," as stated in Psalms 101:2.
4. The pastor's role is to gather the church community. Once everyone is assembled, the pastor prays with them and preaches to them. This is also something that's highly respected in Christian family leaders.
Objection: But my family is not religious and they're out of control when it comes to anything good. What should I do?
Answer: I'll respond to this, firstly, even though this is true, you still need to guide them, not the other way around. You've been placed in charge of them by God, and you're supposed to use the authority God has given you to both reprimand their wrongdoings and to show them the harm in their defiance against the Lord. This is what Eli did, although not sufficiently, and this is also what David did, as seen in 1 Samuel 2: 24, 25 and 1 Chronicles 28:9. Also, you need to tell them how tough your situation was when you were in their shoes. Work hard to help them escape from the devil's trap, as mentioned in Mark 5:19.
2. You should also work hard to encourage them to participate in God's public worship, in the hope that God may convert their souls. As Jacob said to his household and everyone around him, "Let us rise and go to Bethel, and I will make there an Altar to God, that answered me in the day of my distress," Gen. 35.3.
Hannah took Samuel to Shiloh so that he could be with God forever, as mentioned in Samuel 1:22. Truly, a person who is deeply moved will strive to not only bring their family, but an entire city closer to Jesus Christ, as seen in John 4:28, 29.
3. If they are stubborn and refuse to go with you, then you should invite good and reliable people to your home. There, let the Word of God be preached, just like Cornelius did when he gathered his family and friends together, as mentioned in Acts 10.
You know that people like the jailor, Lydia, Crisus, Gaius, Stephanus, and others, not only found faith themselves, but also had their families transformed by the Word. This happened through the Word being preached to them, and for some, if not all, it was preached in their own homes. This is mentioned in Acts 16:14-34, Acts 18:7-8, and 1 Corinthians 1:16. For all we know, this might be one of the many reasons why the Apostles in their time taught not only in public places but also from house to house. They did this in hopes of reaching those in some families who were still unconverted and living in sin, as mentioned in Acts 5:24 and Acts 20:20-21. You know, it was quite common in the time of Christ for people to invite Him into their homes, especially if they had someone who was suffering and either couldn't or wouldn't come to Him. This is seen in Luke 5:2-3 and Luke 8:41.
If this is the case with those who have physical illnesses in their families, how much more so for those souls that need Christ to save them from death and eternal damnation?
4. Be careful not to neglect your family responsibilities, including things like reading the Bible and praying. If you have someone in your family who is gracious, take that as encouragement. Even if you're alone, remember that you have the freedom to connect with God through Christ. And when you do, know that you're not truly alone - the entire global Church is with you, including all those who will be saved.
5. Be careful not to allow any ungodly, profane, or heretical books or discussions in your home. As it's said in 1 Corinthians 15:33, "Evil communication corrupts good manners." I'm referring to those profane or heretical books and such that either tend to provoke recklessness in life, or those that challenge the fundamental principles of the Gospel.
I understand that Christians should be granted their freedom when it comes to matters of indifference. However, for those matters that challenge either faith or holiness, they should be rejected by all Christians, and particularly by church leaders and heads of families. This practice was symbolized by Jacob's command to his household and everyone with him to get rid of the foreign gods among them and to change their clothes, as mentioned in Genesis 35:1,2.
The people in the Acts also set a great example of this. They took their intriguing books and publicly burned them, even though they were worth five thousand pieces of silver, as mentioned in Acts 19:18-19.
Ignoring this fourth point has led to the downfall of many families, both among children and servants. It's easier for those who talk nonsense and their deceptive actions to undermine entire households than most people realize, as mentioned in Titus 1:10, 11.
So, that's all about the spiritual condition of your household.
And now, let's talk about its external appearance.
Regarding the external situation of your family, you need to think about these things;
Firstly, it's your responsibility to ensure that your family has a decent livelihood. If anyone doesn't provide for their own, especially their own family, they've rejected the faith and are worse than a non-believer, as stated in 1 Timothy 5:8. But note, when the scripture says you are to provide for your family, it doesn't give you a free pass to be obsessively worried, nor does it permit you to greedily hoard worldly possessions in your heart or bank account. It doesn't advise you to worry about the future years or days, but rather to provide for them so they have food and clothing. If they or you are not satisfied with that, you're stepping beyond God's guidelines, as mentioned in 1 Timothy 6 and Matthew 6:34. The goal is to work so that you can support good deeds and necessary needs, as stated in Titus 3:14.
Don't ever argue that unless you go further, it won't work out. That's just a lack of faith. The Scripture says that God feeds the ravens, cares for the sparrows, and clothes the grass. In these three actions - feeding, clothing, and caring - there's as much as the heart can desire, as stated in Luke 12:6, 24, 27, 28.
Secondly, even though you should provide for your family, make sure all your work is done with moderation. Let everyone know about your moderation, as mentioned in Philippians 4:5. Be careful not to be so consumed with worldly pursuits that you neglect your spiritual duties towards God, which you are obligated to by grace. These duties include private prayer, reading the Scriptures, and engaging in Christian discussions. It's not right for people to be so engrossed in worldly matters that they disengage their hearts from worshipping God. As Christians, we should remember that time is short. Therefore, those who are married should live as if they were not; those who mourn should live as if they were not mourning; those who are joyful should live as if they were not joyful; and those who use worldly things should not misuse them. This is because the world as we know it is passing away, as stated in 1 Corinthians 7:29, 30, 31.
A lot of Christians go about their lives, acting as if religion is just a side gig, and worldly matters are the main event. But in reality, all the things of this world are just side shows, and religion is the only thing that truly matters, as stated in Luke 10:40, 41, 42.
Thirdly, if you want to be a good head of the family, you need to ensure there's a Christian harmony among your family members. This is what's expected in a house where the leader fears God.
1. You need to ensure that your children and servants follow the Word of God. Although it's God's responsibility to rule the heart, He expects you to guide their outward behavior. If you fail to do this, He might soon eliminate all those in your lineage who oppose His will (1 Sam. 3:11-14). So, make sure you keep them moderate in all aspects, including their clothing and language. They shouldn't be gluttonous or drunkards. Don't allow your children to boss around your servants without reason, nor should the servants behave foolishly towards each other.
2. Learn to differentiate between the harm done to you personally and the harm done to God within your family. While you should be passionate about defending the Lord and intolerant of any blatant disrespect towards Him, it's wise to let go of personal offenses and forget about them. Love has the power to forgive a multitude of sins. So, don't behave like those who lose their temper and act irrationally when they are wronged, yet either laugh it off or fail to seriously reprimand and caution when God is disrespected.
Manage your own household well, ensuring that your children (along with others in your family) respect and follow your guidance seriously, as stated in 1 Timothy 3:4.
Sometimes, Solomon was so impressive that he left his onlookers absolutely stunned, as mentioned in 2 Chron. 9:3-4.
Let's shift away from this broad discussion and dive into the specifics.
Responsibility in Relation to the Wife
Firstly, do you have a wife? You must consider how you should behave in that role. To do this correctly, you must consider your wife's faith, whether she is a believer or not. If she is a believer, then firstly, you are obligated to thank God for her. Her worth is far greater than rubies, and she is God's gift to you, meant to enhance your life and bring you honor (Proverbs 12:4, Proverbs 31:10, 1 Corinthians 11:7). Charm can be deceptive and beauty can fade; but a woman who fears the Lord, she will be praised (Proverbs 31:30).
Secondly, you should love her for two reasons; 1. She is your flesh and blood (For no man ever hated his own flesh, Ephesians 5:29.) 2. She is, along with you, an heir of the Grace of Life, 1 Peter 3. This, I say, should inspire you to love her with Christian love; to love her believing that both of you are dearly loved by God, and the Lord Jesus Christ, and as those who will be together with him in eternal happiness.
Thirdly, you should treat your wife the same way Christ treats his Church. As the Apostle said, men should love their wives as Christ loved the Church and sacrificed himself for it (Ephesians 5:25). When husbands truly act like husbands, they become not just husbands, but a representation of God's will to their wives, showing her how Christ treats his spouse. There's a beautiful essence in the relationship between husbands and wives who have faith (Ephesians 5:32). The wife, I mean, represents the Church, and the husband represents its head and savior (Ephesians 5:23). Because just as Christ is the head of the Church and its savior, so is the husband the head of his wife.
One of the main reasons God created marriage, is so that the relationship between Christ and his Church could be symbolically represented wherever there is a couple who believe through grace.
So, any husband who doesn't treat his wife with consideration is not only breaking the rule, but also depriving his wife of the benefits of such a rule, and undermining the significance of this relationship. Therefore, I say, men should love their wives as they love their own bodies. A man who loves his wife, loves himself; because no one has ever hated their own body, but instead they nourish and care for it, just as the Lord does for the Church, as stated in Ephesians 5:28-29.
Solomon and Pharaoh's Daughter knew how to do this, as you can see in the Song of Solomon.
So, be patient with their shortcomings, support them in their weaknesses, and respect them as the more vulnerable ones, due to their delicate nature, as mentioned in 1 Peter 3:7.
In short, be the kind of husband to your faithful wife that makes her say, "God has not only given me a husband, but such a husband who shows me every day how Christ treats his Church."
2. If your wife doesn't share your faith or is focused on physical pleasures, you have a responsibility towards her. This responsibility is doubly important because of two reasons. First, she is at risk of eternal damnation at any moment. Second, she is your wife who is in this unfortunate situation.
Oh, it's clear that some husbands really don't understand the value of souls, as shown by their unkind behavior towards, and in front of, their wives.
Now, to make sure you're ready for a suitable ride,
1. Work hard to understand her difficult situation, so that you may feel deep empathy for her soul.
2. Be careful that she doesn't use any inappropriate behavior of yours as an excuse to do wrong. You need to be extra careful here, because she's close to you and can easily spot even the smallest mistake you make.
3. If she acts out of line or behaves badly, which she might do because she doesn't have Christ or grace in her life, then you should strive to counteract her negativity with your positivity, her stubbornness with your patience and gentleness. It would be embarrassing for you, who operates under different principles, to behave like her.
4. Look for the right moments to persuade her; pay attention to her mood, and when she seems most receptive, that's when you should really speak to her heart.
5. When you speak, make sure it's meaningful. It doesn't matter how many words you use, as long as they're relevant. Job, in just a few words, responds to his wife and stops her from her senseless chatter. He says to her, "You're talking like one of the foolish women. Should we accept good from God and not also accept bad?" Job 2:10.
6. Do everything without bitterness or even the slightest hint of anger. Gently guide those who are against you, in the hope that they might free themselves from the trap of the Devil, who has taken them captive at his will, as stated in 2 Timothy 2: 25-26.
And how do you know, O man, that you might not save your wife? 1 Cor. 7:16.