MEN NEEDED IN THE CHURCH
Today I am going to begin a new series of lessons that will start out with the men and end with the women. Though I will be specifically mentioning men and using men of the Bible as examples in the first 4 lessons, you ladies are not completely left out because many of the characteristics I will be mentioning can certainly apply to both males and females. For our time this morning and this evening I will start out talking about what kind of men we needs in the Lordís church. Though I will be covering many great qualities that men should have or be working toward, there are many qualities I will not have time to cover today, but I think you will agree with the ones that I do mention.
First, we need men of knowledge like Timothy. Consider Timothyís background. His father was a Greek and his mother a Jew. This union would have been looked down on by the mainstream Jew, and Timothy would have been viewed in the same light as a Samaritan since he was part Jew and part Gentile. Since his father was a Greek, and apparently not a proselyte, Timothy was not circumcised, which means by the law of Moses he would not be considered part of Godís people (Gen. 17:14). Though he was an outcast and was limited on what he could learn about God and His law, his mother and grandmother taught him what they knew. Apparently, Timothy was eager to learn.
2 Timothy 3:14 But you must continue in the things which you have learned and been assured of, knowing from whom you have learned them,† 15 and that from childhood you have known the Holy Scriptures, which are able to make you wise for salvation through faith which is in Christ Jesus.† 16 All Scripture is given by inspiration of God, and is profitable for doctrine, for reproof, for correction, for instruction in righteousness,† 17 that the man of God may be complete, thoroughly equipped for every good work.
Paul was encouraging Timothy to continue to learn the Scriptures that he had been taught from childhood. The Scriptures he first learned were the O.T. Scriptures, which spoke of the salvation to come through the Messiah, but he also learned the Scriptures that were spoken about Christ under the new covenant as well. It is believed that he heard Paul teaching these new Scriptures on his first missionary journey, which is implied by him referring to him as his son in several places. We know that he was converted to Christianity somewhere around this time because he was already a Christian by the time Paul came back through his area on his second missionary journey, when he joins Paul.
Acts 16:1 Then he came to Derbe and Lystra. And behold, a certain disciple was there, named Timothy, the son of a certain Jewish woman who believed, but his father was Greek.† 2 He was well spoken of by the brethren who were at Lystra and Iconium.† 3 Paul wanted to have him go on with him. And he took him and circumcised him because of the Jews who were in that region, for they all knew that his father was Greek.† †
I want you to think about some of the qualities we have seen about Timothy so far that men need to have in the church today. First of all, the fact that he came from a marriage that was not lawful did not stop him from learning about God and loving him. I know we are not specifically told what was going through his mind as he was learning about the law of God, but I am pretty sure that his grandmother and mother would have taught him what the law said about being circumcised and how his mother and father should have never been married in the first place. That would be tough to take in, but he handled it and moved on with who he was.
We need men like this in the church today. Men that understand that they may have grew up as children in a marriage that God did not approve of. This could include unlawful marriages as specified in:
Matthew 19:9 †"And I say to you, whoever divorces his wife, except for sexual immorality, and marries another, commits adultery; and whoever marries her who is divorced commits adultery."
Another unlawful marriage in the eyes of God is men marrying men and women marrying women. Today we have some states that say this is legal and they allow them to adopt children.
No matter what kind of unlawful marriage it is, there is nothing stopping their children from learning about God and becoming great servants for God, but we need men that are willing to acknowledge the fact that their parents were sinners and to move on and to keep growing.
Second, we can see that Timothy was willing to be circumcised though he did not have to be under the covenant. He agreed with Paul that it would make it easier for him to be able to help Paul teach the Jews if that excuse was removed. This shows great dedication to removing any stumbling blocks from reaching the lost. We need men like this in the church today who are more concerned about winning souls and who are willing to remove stumbling blocks so they can be more effective at reaching the lost. This is why Paul says:
1 Corinthians 10:23 All things are lawful for me, but not all things are helpful; all things are lawful for me, but not all things edify.
Though some things may be lawful to do, such as Timothy remaining uncircumcised, it is not always helpful. When we are reaching out to the lost and trying to keep the church strong sometimes there are certain things we might have to abstain from so we do not confuse a new convert. Now, this does mean that we will have to abstain from it forever, but long enough until we are able to teach the new convert the truth. The main point is that we need men that are willing to abstain from doing certain things for the good of the church.
The third thing we learn from Timothy is that he was not only a serious student of the Bible who was eager to learn, he was also willing to teach what he learned. In fact, Paul encouraged him to do so in several places. For example:
2 Timothy 4:1 I charge you therefore before God and the Lord Jesus Christ, who will judge the living and the dead at His appearing and His kingdom:† 2 Preach the word! Be ready in season and out of season. Convince, rebuke, exhort, with all longsuffering and teaching.† 3 For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine, but according to their own desires, because they have itching ears, they will heap up for themselves teachers;† 4 and they will turn their ears away from the truth, and be turned aside to fables.† 5 But you be watchful in all things, endure afflictions, do the work of an evangelist, fulfill your ministry. †
We certainly need men in the church that are willing to take what they learn from Godís Word and teach it to others. You do not have to be evangelist to do this. We are all ministers and we all have responsibilities to plant seeds by preaching Godís Word. Preaching the Word is not limited to the pulpit or Bible class. We can preach many lessons that convict, rebuke and exhort by how we live our lives each day and by the words that we choose. We must never forget that every Christian is a walking epistle and our actions can speak louder than our words. We could certainly use more men in the church that are willing to preach the word in season and out of season in word and deed. Our goal should always be to teach others what we know about God so that others can benefit from our knowledge. As Paul told Timothy:
2 Timothy 2:2 And the things that you have heard from me among many witnesses, commit these to faithful men who will be able to teach others also.
Not only do we need men like Timothy, we need men like Solomon.
1 Kings 3:5 At Gibeon the LORD appeared to Solomon in a dream by night; and God said, "Ask! What shall I give you?"† 6 And Solomon said: "You have shown great mercy to Your servant David my father, because he walked before You in truth, in righteousness, and in uprightness of heart with You; You have continued this great kindness for him, and You have given him a son to sit on his throne, as it is this day.† 7 "Now, O LORD my God, You have made Your servant king instead of my father David, but I am a little child; I do not know how to go out or come in.† 8 "And Your servant is in the midst of Your people whom You have chosen, a great people, too numerous to be numbered or counted.† 9 "Therefore give to Your servant an understanding heart to judge Your people, that I may discern between good and evil. For who is able to judge this great people of Yours?"† 10 The speech pleased the LORD, that Solomon had asked this thing.† 11 Then God said to him: "Because you have asked this thing, and have not asked long life for yourself, nor have asked riches for yourself, nor have asked the life of your enemies, but have asked for yourself understanding to discern justice,† 12 "behold, I have done according to your words; see, I have given you a wise and understanding heart, so that there has not been anyone like you before you, nor shall any like you arise after you.† 13 "And I have also given you what you have not asked: both riches and honor, so that there shall not be anyone like you among the kings all your days.
We all know that Solomon becomes corrupt later on and there are qualities he had that no man should follow, but in the beginning of his life, we see some great qualities that men in the church need. First, we see how humble he was in knowing that he did not have the proper wisdom he needed to make good judgments among his people. He knew that He needed Godís help and realized that his father David had been blessed by living by Godís truth.
We need humble men like this in the church today, who realize that they do not have all the answers to lifeís problems no matter how smart they may be. They realize that they need Godís help throughout their lives to make proper decisions in their life for Godís people. We need men that will take to heart what Solomon says in:
Proverbs 3:5 †Trust in the LORD with all your heart, And lean not on your own understanding;† 6 In all your ways acknowledge Him, And He shall direct your paths.† 7 Do not be wise in your own eyes; Fear the LORD and depart from evil.† 8 It will be health to your flesh, And strength to your bones.
When you have a church full of Christians that will live by these words, you will have a very healthy church.
The second thing we learn from Solomon is that he wanted an understanding heart to judge between right and wrong. God blessed him with this. In fact, verse 12 says that God gave him a wise and understanding heart, and He blessed him with riches and honor. Solomon could have asked for anything that he wanted to, but his goal was to be the best leader he could be for his people by aligning himself with God.
These are the kind of men we need in the church. We need men who want to seek out the wisdom of God first before riches and honor. Though the world doesnít seem to understand this idea, many times when a person seeks out the wisdom of God first, he will be blessed with riches and honor. Even if he is not, he knows he is spiritual rich no matter what. Just image how strong the church would be if every manís goal was to seek out the wisdom of God so they could know how to properly discern between right and wrong and properly apply the knowledge they gain from Godís Word.
The church also needs men like Joshua and Caleb.
Numbers 13:1 And the LORD spoke to Moses, saying,† 2 "Send men to spy out the land of Canaan, which I am giving to the children of Israel; from each tribe of their fathers you shall send a man, every one a leader among them."
Numbers 13:17 Then Moses sent them to spy out the land of Canaan, and said to them, "Go up this way into the South, and go up to the mountains,† 18 "and see what the land is like: whether the people who dwell in it are strong or weak, few or many;† 19 "whether the land they dwell in is good or bad; whether the cities they inhabit are like camps or strongholds;† 20 "whether the land is rich or poor; and whether there are forests there or not. Be of good courage. And bring some of the fruit of the land." Now the time was the season of the first ripe grapes. †
Numbers 13:25 †And they returned from spying out the land after forty days.† 26 Now they departed and came back to Moses and Aaron and all the congregation of the children of Israel in the Wilderness of Paran, at Kadesh; they brought back word to them and to all the congregation, and showed them the fruit of the land.† 27 Then they told him, and said: "We went to the land where you sent us. It truly flows with milk and honey, and this is its fruit.† 28 "Nevertheless the people who dwell in the land are strong; the cities are fortified and very large; moreover we saw the descendants of Anak there.† 29 "The Amalekites dwell in the land of the South; the Hittites, the Jebusites, and the Amorites dwell in the mountains; and the Canaanites dwell by the sea and along the banks of the Jordan."† 30 Then Caleb quieted the people before Moses, and said, "Let us go up at once and take possession, for we are well able to overcome it."† 31 But the men who had gone up with him said, "We are not able to go up against the people, for they are stronger than we."† 32 And they gave the children of Israel a bad report of the land which they had spied out, saying, "The land through which we have gone as spies is a land that devours its inhabitants, and all the people whom we saw in it are men of great stature.† 33 "There we saw the giants (the descendants of Anak came from the giants); and we were like grasshoppers in our own sight, and so we were in their sight."
I am sure all of us have read this story. No doubt, it was trying time for these Jews because they were used to being in captivity. They had just started getting used to their freedom and now they are supposed to become conquers. Though they had seen many miracles from God, they could not see beyond themselves. They were limiting what they could accomplish because they were not thinking about what God could empower them to do. So, it did not take much to defeat their faith.
However, Caleb and Joshua were the only two spies that understood how big their God was. As we read, Caleb spoke out and so does Joshua in the next chapter. They try to convince the people that it does not matter how big or how many people are in the land of milk of honey it is theirs to take because God is with them.
We need men like this in the church today. There are too many that are like the 10 spies who limit what they can do because they fail to understand that God is with them. So, we need men in the church that do not have the ďwe cannot do it attitude.Ē Instead, we need men that have the, ďWe can do it attitude because God is with us.Ē †Think about how much more the Lordís church could accomplish if all the men had the spirit of Joshua and Caleb. There would be no limits to what we could accomplish or die trying to accomplish, which is why we need more men in the church like Joshua and Caleb. It is sad when the work of the church suffers because too many have a negative attitude about what we can do when we allow God to be our strength. Let us never forget what Paul said:
Philippians 4:13 †I can do all things through Christ who strengthens me.
For our last example this morning, we need men like Joseph who was a man of purity and virtue. I am sure most of us are familiar with the story of Joseph and how his brothers sold him into slavery. One of the first places he served as a slave was at Potipharís household in Genesis 39. Everything was going well for him because God was with him.. Everything that Joseph did was successful, and he had the full trust of Potiphar, but then we read:
Genesis 39:7 And it came to pass after these things that his master's wife cast longing eyes on Joseph, and she said, "Lie with me."† 8 But he refused and said to his master's wife, "Look, my master does not know what is with me in the house, and he has committed all that he has to my hand.† 9 "There is no one greater in this house than I, nor has he kept back anything from me but you, because you are his wife. How then can I do this great wickedness, and sin against God?"† 10 So it was, as she spoke to Joseph day by day, that he did not heed her, to lie with her or to be with her.† 11 But it happened about this time, when Joseph went into the house to do his work, and none of the men of the house was inside,† 12 that she caught him by his garment, saying, "Lie with me." But he left his garment in her hand, and fled and ran outside.† 13 And so it was, when she saw that he had left his garment in her hand and fled outside,† 14 that she called to the men of her house and spoke to them, saying, "See, he has brought in to us a Hebrew to mock us. He came in to me to lie with me, and I cried out with a loud voice.† 15 "And it happened, when he heard that I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me, and fled and went outside."† 16 So she kept his garment with her until his master came home.† 17 Then she spoke to him with words like these, saying, "The Hebrew servant whom you brought to us came in to me to mock me;† 18 "so it happened, as I lifted my voice and cried out, that he left his garment with me and fled outside."
Some men would not have controlled themselves like Joseph did. They would have given in because it would have been easy, but Joseph was not about to violate his trust with Potiphar and he was certainly not going to sin in the eyes of God, so he ran away from this womanís death grip.
We need men like this in the church today, who are willing to be full of virtue and purity. This can be a big struggle for men because of the society we live in and how we are overwhelmed around every corner with temptations. The biggest battle that men face is not so much acting out physically, though that is a problem, the biggest battles happen in our minds. Men must train themselves daily in order to change the thoughts of their minds. That is where it must begin because eventually whatever your thoughts are, you most likely do physically. Learning to have pure thoughts takes time and training, but as Christian men, we must never cease changing the way we think and look at the opposite sex. We must learn to turn eyes away from the things we see that will cause us to lust. Sometimes we must run away from the grip of whatever is enticing us so that we do not sin.
Now society will tell you to do whatever you want because you only have one life to live. They also say indulging in what makes you feel good cannot be wrong, but Christians must understand† indulging in sexual sin destroys lives and can keep you out of heaven. Had Joseph given into the Potipharís wife, I have no doubt that events of Josephís life would have been much different because sin will find you out. Most likely, we would have read about how Potiphar found out and killed them both.
While it can be challenging to live a life of virtue and purity in our society it can be done and we need men like this in the church who are more focused on serving God than sinning in His eyes. The way we do this is by what Paul said:
2 Corinthians 10:5 †bringing every thought into captivity to the obedience of Christ,†
Romans 12:2 And do not be conformed to this world, but be transformed by the renewing of your mind, that you may prove what is that good and acceptable and perfect will of God.
This brings to the end of our lesson this morning, I hope you will come back tonight as we will look at some more great men of the Bible and the good characteristics they had that men need to have in the church today. Let us never stop growing in the grace and the knowledge of our Lord.
MEN NEEDED IN THE CHURCH
This morning we began looking at the kind of men we need in the church. We looked at Timothy, Solomon, Caleb, Joshua, and Joseph and learned several valuable characteristics they had that the men in the church need to have. As I said this morning, though I am directing my lesson to the men, there are many of these characteristics that would also apply to women, so women do not feel let out, simply apply what you can to yourselves. I will be talking about the kind of women we need in the church as well in another lesson so everyone will be covered.
Our first example tonight is Daniel and his three friends Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. who were men of courage. Daniel was an amazing servant of God that was full of courage even at an early age. He was man of purpose:
Dan 1: 8 But Daniel purposed in his heart that he would not defile himself with the portion of the king's delicacies, nor with the wine which he drank; therefore he requested of the chief of the eunuchs that he might not defile himself.
Think about how brave and dedicated Daniel was at this time. Here he was a young boy in strange land and now he was being faced with a dilemma. Should he stand his ground and abide by Godís law or should he violate that law and eat the kingís food? Well, despite his youth and the tremendous pressure to conform, Daniel "purposed in his heart" to uphold the law of God, no matter what the cost and because of his willingness to put God first, God granted Daniel favor in the sight of others as,
Dan 1: 9 Now God had brought Daniel into the favor and goodwill of the chief of the eunuchs.
I stand in awe at the courage Daniel had in this situation because it would have been easy to conform to what king wanted him to do, but neither he nor his friends defiled themselves with kingís delicacies knowing that this act may get them killed. They were courageous enough to put their faith in God and do what was right no matter how difficult the situation was, and this theme continues in their lives because next, we learn about what happens to† Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego.
Thanks to Danielís ability to interpret the kings dream, we read about his promotion and the promotion of his friends.
2: 48 Then the king promoted Daniel and gave him many great gifts; and he made
him ruler over the whole province of Babylon, and chief administrator over all
the wise men of
This promotion did not set well with the kingís people so they found a way to get rid of Danielís three friends when they saw that these men would not bow down to the image that the king had created.
Daniel 3:12 "There are certain Jews whom you have set over the affairs of the province of Babylon: Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego; these men, O king, have not paid due regard to you. They do not serve your gods or worship the gold image which you have set up."† 13 Then Nebuchadnezzar, in rage and fury, gave the command to bring Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego. So they brought these men before the king.† 14 Nebuchadnezzar spoke, saying to them, "Is it true, Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego, that you do not serve my gods or worship the gold image which I have set up?† 15 "Now if you are ready at the time you hear the sound of the horn, flute, harp, lyre, and psaltery, in symphony with all kinds of music, and you fall down and worship the image which I have made, good! But if you do not worship, you shall be cast immediately into the midst of a burning fiery furnace. And who is the god who will deliver you from my hands?"† 16 Shadrach, Meshach, and Abed-Nego answered and said to the king, "O Nebuchadnezzar, we have no need to answer you in this matter.† 17 "If that is the case, our God whom we serve is able to deliver us from the burning fiery furnace, and He will deliver us from your hand, O king.† 18 "But if not, let it be known to you, O king, that we do not serve your gods, nor will we worship the gold image which you have set up."
You cannot help but respect these three men and their great courage. Though they knew that would be thrown into a fiery furnace, which would be an extremely painful death, they did not waiver in their faith God. They were willing to put their fate in Godís hands. Even if they died, which shows that did not know if they would live or die, they were not going bow down and worship his gods or his idol.
These are kind of men we need in the church today. We need men who do not care what society or the majority thinks is right. We need men who have such a strong love for God and His way that they would be willing to face a fiery furnace to stand up for what is right in the eyes of God. Far too many times, we have men in the church across this nation who are conformist, and they will conform to whoever yells the loudest, but this should not be. So, we need men that are willing to stand on Godís truth no matter how loud others are yelling something different.
Our nation is become more unfriendly to Christians and the way of God. Just because our government passes a law that says that abortion is ok or that same sex marriage is ok does not make it right in the eyes of God. Sometimes men have to take a† stand against the king by not accepting what the king is trying to force on his people, which is why we need men of courage in the church who are willing to stand up for what God wants.
One more example of this courage that comes from Daniel, when he finds himself in a position of power under and another king. He has the same problem as before because the kingís people did not like this foreigner having so much power, so they found away, they thought, to take him out. We learn about this in Daniel 6.
Since they couldnít find anything wrong with Daniels service as Governor, they had to get creative. So the fool King Darius (duh-rye-us) into signing a decree that no man could petition anyone except the king for the next 30 days or they will be cast into the lionís den. Well, these men trick the king and we must understand by their laws, once the king signed a law, not even the king himself could change it. These men knew that Daniel would pray to his God and so they thought they found a solution to their problem and sure enough Daniel prayed to God as it was his custom to do.
6: 10 Now when Daniel knew that the writing was signed, he went home.
And in his upper room, with his windows open toward
Daniel knelt in prayer, which was a demonstration of his humility. We also learned that he prayed three times daily, which shows his continual dependence on God. Danielís prayers were a "custom since early days", which shows his persistence and faithfulness in his service to God.
Even though Daniel knew that he was putting his life in danger he did not care because he trusted in God as he prayed. I am sure we all know how the story ends, Daniel is thrown into the lionís den but God shuts the lionsí mouths and Daniel is spared.
Just imagine how much better the church would be as staying routed and grounded in the truth if more men were courageous like Daniel. Also, we notice that Daniel was a man of persistent prayer. Prayer as an important part of his life, and we need men in the church that also make prayer an important part of their lives. As Jesus said:
Luke 18:1 ††Ömen always ought to pray and not lose heart,
Our next example comes from Abraham. Abraham certainly had some faults, but he also had some great characteristics that men in the church need today. Letís let look at just a few of them.
Genesis 12:1 Now the LORD had said to Abram: "Get out of your country, From your family And from your father's house, To a land that I will show you.† 2 I will make you a great nation; I will bless you And make your name great; And you shall be a blessing.† 3 I will bless those who bless you, And I will curse him who curses you; And in you all the families of the earth shall be blessed."† 4 So Abram departed as the LORD had spoken to him, and Lot went with him. And Abram was seventy-five years old when he departed from Haran.
Put yourself in Abrahamís sandals, and think about what he had to do. Here he was in a familiar area and he knew what to expect, yet God calls him out to go to a place he has never seen and has no idea what awaits him. All he knows is the God is telling him to go and that he will make his name great and make him a great nation. Many people struggle with changing what they are used to, but Abraham does it because he trusts in the Lord.
While God does not call us out to go somewhere or do a certain thing directly, there are many things we are called to do through His Word. There are many changes we must accept even though we do not know exactly how those changes will affect our lives. While many like to find a comfortable routine to stick to and do what they are used to, we need men like Abraham in the church who are willing to get out of their comfort zone and do things they have never done before for the Lord. We need men who are willing to try new things that might help the kingdom of God grow.
As Abrahamís life continues, we also learn that he is a peacemaker.
Genesis 13:6 Now the land was not able to support them, that they might dwell together, for their possessions were so great that they could not dwell together.† 7 And there was strife between the herdsmen of Abram's livestock and the herdsmen of Lot's livestock. The Canaanites and the Perizzites then dwelt in the land.† 8 So Abram said to Lot, "Please let there be no strife between you and me, and between my herdsmen and your herdsmen; for we are brethren.† 9 "Is not the whole land before you? Please separate from me. If you take the left, then I will go to the right; or, if you go to the right, then I will go to the left."† 10 And Lot lifted his eyes and saw all the plain of Jordan, that it was well watered everywhere (before the LORD destroyed Sodom and Gomorrah) like the garden of the LORD, like the land of Egypt as you go toward Zoar.† 11 Then Lot chose for himself all the plain of Jordan, and Lot journeyed east. And they separated from each other.† 12 Abram dwelt in the land of Canaan, and Lot dwelt in the cities of the plain and pitched his tent even as far as Sodom.
Lot choose to go with Abraham, so by all accounts Abraham had the right to choose whatever land he wanted and allow Lot to take the less desirable land, but Abraham did not do this. He goal was not to be first, but to keep the peace and to take a less desirable area to live in. Abraham understood that wherever he parked his camel that God would be with him and bless him.
We need men like this in the church that are peacemakers. That is men that are not always concerned about getting their way, but making Godís kingdom thrive by putting others first. A church can become divided and devoured quickly when men do not have the attitude of Abraham. Butting heads over issues that really do not matter is very destructive. Sometimes we may have to put a good idea off or take less than we credit than we deserve to help the church be stronger. Abrahamís actions sounds similar to what Paul taught in:
Philippians 2:3 Let nothing be done through selfish ambition or conceit, but in lowliness of mind let each esteem others better than himself.† 4 Let each of you look out not only for his own interests, but also for the interests of others.† 5 Let this mind be in you which was also in Christ Jesus,
We all know that Abraham had to wait a long time to finally have the son that was promised to him and Sarah. I have no doubt that Abraham was a great father who taught his son about God and His ways. We certainly need men in the church who desire to teach their children about God and make sure they have plenty of opportunities to grow stronger in the faith. As Paul said:
Ephesians 6:4 And you, fathers, do not provoke your children to wrath, but bring them up in the training and admonition of the Lord.
As men we need understand how important our role is in influencing our children both male and female. For example, I was listening to the radio and they were talking about how teenage pregnancy was 70% higher in homes where there was no father or the father had very little to do with their daughters. Sometimes men will spend most of their time with their sons and teaching them but have a tendency to ignore their daughters. Well, this is a mistake because when a daughter does not get the attention and love she desires from her father, she has a tendency to seek that love and attention from other males and they will do anything to get it, which is why teenage pregnancy is 70% higher in homes without a dad or with a dad who pays little attention to his daughter. This is why it is important for men in the church to be involved with both their sons and daughters.
The same program also said the boys that do not have a father or who does not pay much attention will more likely to get involved in gangs, commit crime and serve time in jail. Any way you look at it, the best thing we can do as men is to be there for our children. Whatever we think is more important can wait because, we will have plenty of time after our children move out of the house to take care some of those other things that we thought were so important.
We also know that Abraham was a good husband, and we certainly need men in the church that are good husbands. As Paul said:
Ephesians 5:25 Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ also loved the church and gave Himself for her,† 26 that He might sanctify and cleanse her with the washing of water by the word,† 27 that He might present her to Himself a glorious church, not having spot or wrinkle or any such thing, but that she should be holy and without blemish.† 28 So husbands ought to love their own wives as their own bodies; he who loves his wife loves himself.† 29 For no one ever hated his own flesh, but nourishes and cherishes it, just as the Lord does the church.
As important as it for men to be actively involved with their family, God must be their number 1 priority. As Jesus said:
Luke 14:26 "If anyone comes to Me and does not hate his father and mother, wife and children, brothers and sisters, yes, and his own life also, he cannot be My disciple.
Please understand, that Jesus is not saying that you need to hate your family, but what it meant is meant by this statement is easier to understand in:†††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††††
Matthew 10:37 ††"He who loves father or mother more than Me is not worthy of Me. And he who loves son or daughter more than Me is not worthy of Me.
In other words, we must love God first and never love our family more than we love God. If you love your family more than God, then you will end up serving them and compromising Godís truth for them, but when you love God, you will always put His will first over family. It is very important that we have men in the church that are willing to do this because there are many situations that our kids, parents or spouse may find themselves in sin. If we love them more than God, then we will most likely overlook their sins or try justify their sins when no justification can be found in Godís Word.
Abraham is the perfect example of being one that loved God more than family. He waited many years to be blessed with the son that was promised him. He was certainly his pride and joy, but we read:
Genesis 22:1 Now it came to pass after these things that God tested Abraham, and said to him, "Abraham!" And he said, "Here I am."† 2 Then He said, "Take now your son, your only son Isaac, whom you love, and go to the land of Moriah, and offer him there as a burnt offering on one of the mountains of which I shall tell you."† 3 So Abraham rose early in the morning and saddled his donkey, and took two of his young men with him, and Isaac his son; and he split the wood for the burnt offering, and arose and went to the place of which God had told him.
The Bible is silent on the emotions that Abraham experienced at the moment God told him to sacrifice his son as a burn offering. While I am sure he was very emotional about this, his emotions did not keep him from following Godís Word even though this was his pride and joy that he would have to kill the name of God. It does not get any tougher than this because it hard enough to lose a child, but to take his life with your own hands would be more than most could handle. Abraham loved God more than family. Though he would have to take his sonís life, he was going to do what God said.
We need men in the church who are willing to follow Godís Word all the way even if it makes their family mad. We need men that are not willing to compromise Godís truth for the sake of family. This is not an easy thing to do and it will trouble your heart, but we must always love God more than family. †
Finally, we need men like Nehemiah who had vision and determination to serve God. You might remember that Nehemiah was cupbearer for the king. When he heard from some traveling Jews about how oppressed his people were in Jerusalem and how they were not rebuilding like they should, he wanted to do something about it so he prayed to God. He also asked the king to send him to Jerusalem so he could help rebuild it. The king allowed him.
Nehemiah 2:11 So I came to Jerusalem and was there three days.† 12 Then I arose in the night, I and a few men with me; I told no one what my God had put in my heart to do at Jerusalem; nor was there any animal with me, except the one on which I rode.† 13 And I went out by night through the Valley Gate to the Serpent Well and the Refuse Gate, and viewed the walls of Jerusalem which were broken down and its gates which were burned with fire.† 14 Then I went on to the Fountain Gate and to the King's Pool, but there was no room for the animal under me to pass.† 15 So I went up in the night by the valley, and viewed the wall; then I turned back and entered by the Valley Gate, and so returned.† 16 And the officials did not know where I had gone or what I had done; I had not yet told the Jews, the priests, the nobles, the officials, or the others who did the work.† 17 Then I said to them, "You see the distress that we are in, how Jerusalem lies waste, and its gates are burned with fire. Come and let us build the wall of Jerusalem, that we may no longer be a reproach."† 18 And I told them of the hand of my God which had been good upon me, and also of the king's words that he had spoken to me. So they said, "Let us rise up and build." Then they set their hands to this good work.††††††††††††
We need men like Nehemiah in the church who are able to see the work that needs to be done and make plans to get the job done. We need men who can inspire Godís people to trust in God and their ability to achieve great things in the name of God. Far too many times people allow the work of the kingdom to sit in ruins because no one wants to lift a finger or make the necessary sacrifices to make things happen, but this should not be the case. Men like Nehemiah can inspire and influence Godís people to rise up and build. Imagine what the Lordís church can do when it has great visionary leaders in it like Nehemiah and Christians that are willing to follow that leadership.
Many more examples could be given of the kind men we need in the church, but hope the ones I have given you today will inspire you to be more like them. I hope all the men in this congregation and in the church everywhere understand just how important a manís role is in the church and in life in general is for the furtherance of Godís kingdom and the success of future generations to be God fearing people. Let us never stop growing and becoming more faithful and productive in the Lordís kingdom. This goes for the women as well. Let us all stand in awe of God and strive to give Him our best every day.
MEN NOT NEEDED IN THE CHURCH
Last week I talked about the kind men we need in the church, but this morning I am going to talk about the kind men we do not need in the church.
First, we do not need dictators like Diotrephes:
3 John 1:9 I wrote to the church, but Diotrephes, who loves to have the preeminence among them, does not receive us.† 10 Therefore, if I come, I will call to mind his deeds which he does, prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
We do not know much about the letter that was sent to the church, but it is believed it was a letter that was letting the church know what the needs were of the traveling evangelist that would be coming through their area. This certainly fits with what we see elsewhere in Scripture about hospitality and care being given to those who were traveling around preaching Godís Word.
Diotrephes was an either an elder or simply a man who made himself the supreme leader over that church. He wanted to control everything. If he did not want it, it wasnít going to happen. Peter condemned this act lording over people in:
1 Peter 5:2 Shepherd the flock of God which is among you, serving as overseers, not by compulsion but willingly, not for dishonest gain but eagerly;† 3 nor as being lords over those entrusted to you, but being examples to the flock;†
This is why God gave us qualifications for elders in 1 Tim. 3 and Tit 1. God knew that if just any man was allowed to be elder that they could allow it to go to their heads and do what Diotrephes was doing. A leader in the Lordís church is not to be a dictator and try to get his way, he is to be a humble man, who wants to lead people by his example as He follows the will of God and does what he can to help the church grow.
I want you notice what made Diotrephes the man he was. John says he loves to have the preeminence among them. Preeminence means ďto desire to be first.Ē When you have a man that wants to be first, you are going to have trouble in the church because a man like this is self-serving and only cares about himself, which is why you do not want a man like this in the church.
John T. Hinds had this to say about Diotrephes:
†† †"He had an inordinate desire to be ruler, presiding officer, or occupy the chief seat.† The seeking for authority is evident upon its face that one is not qualified to rule a congregation of God's people.† It not only violates the plain teaching of Jesus on the point (Luke 14:7), but such persons bring reproach upon the church by failing so completely to manifest the spirit of humility of Jesus, its founder.† They always resort to schemes and disgraceful things in accomplishing their desires.† As humanity does not change, those with the Diotrephes spirit are just as detrimental to the church now as then."
Also consider what Jesus said:
Matthew 18:3 †"Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven.† 4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
No one like Diotrephes can fit this description that Jesus just gave us. I also want you to notice what the O.T. says about leaders like Diotrephes. ††††
†"Son of man, prophesy against the shepherds of Israel, prophesy, and say unto them, Thus saith the Lord God unto the shepherds; woe be to the shepherds of Israel that do feed themselves!† Should not the shepherds feed the flocks?† Ye eat the fat, and ye clothe you with the wool, ye kill them that are fed: but ye feed not the flock ...; but with force and cruelty have ye ruled them.† And they were scattered, because there is no shepherd: and they became meat to all the beasts of the field, when they were scattered ....† Therefore, O ye shepherds, hear the word of the Lord; thus saith the Lord God; behold, I am against the shepherds; and I will require my sheep at their hand ...; for I will deliver my flock from their mouth, that they may not be meat for them" (Ezek. 34:2-10).
Ezekiel is talking about self-serving shepherds that were taking care of themselves with no regard to their flock. We cannot and must not have men like this in the church. Back in our text in 3 John, notice what Diotrephes was doing:
prating against us with malicious words. And not content with that, he himself does not receive the brethren, and forbids those who wish to, putting them out of the church.
You may not know what prating is and I could give you a definition of it, but some of the other versions of the Bible will make its meaning clear:
ESV talking wicked nonsense against us
NET the bringing of unjustified charges against us with evil words!
Men like Diotrephes will say and do anything to poison the minds of his followers against anyone he does not like. Of course, it does not stop there because we see Diotrephes refusing to receive the brethren passing through and was willing to disfellowship any person in the church who would receive them.
I know that some of you in this room have known men like this in the church, and you can attest that men like Diotrephes must be kept out of the church because they only cause harm to the kingdom of God.
Another kind of man we do not need in the church is men that do what John Mark did:
Acts 13:13 Now when Paul and his party set sail from Paphos, they came to Perga in Pamphylia; and John, departing from them, returned to Jerusalem.
We are never told the reason John Mark decided to leave Paulís first missionary journey, but whatever the reason was, it was apparently not a very good one because Paul refused to take him with him on her second missionary journey.
We do not need men in the church today who start getting involved in a work and then will just abandon it for no good reason. Doing this can be detrimental to the work of the church and it can cause others to give up on a good work. Men like this are half-hearted and cannot be trusted to carry out a task to its end. The church needs dependable men who will finish what they start.
Some men remain half-hearted all their lives and never finish anything they start, but I am glad I can say that John Mark did not allow his lack of commitment to finish that first missionary journey to keep him down. With the encouragement of Barnabas, we learn that he became a man that people could depend on because he even won Paul back over who later said this about him:
2 Timothy 4:11 Only Luke is with me. Get Mark and bring him with you, for he is useful to me for ministry.
John Mark serves as an example to all men in the church that may not be as committed to God as they should who tend to start projects or ways to serve God and never finish. He shows that the half-hearted man can change his ways and finish what he starts. It is important for half-hearted men to change their ways because a half-heated man will hold back the work of the church and they will not be pleasing to God. As John records in:
Revelation 3:16 "So then, because you are lukewarm, and neither cold nor hot, I will vomit you out of My mouth.
Another kind of man we do not need in the church is one who loves money more than he loves God. As Jesus said:
Matthew 6:24 "No one can serve two masters, for either he will hate the one and love the other, or he will be devoted to the one and despise the other. You cannot serve God and money.
Matthew 19:24 Again I tell you, it is easier for a camel to go through the eye of a needle than for a rich person to enter the kingdom of God."
I cannot think of a better example than Judas that shows what evil the love of money can produce. Think about all that Judas saw Jesus do. He had the privilege to be an eye witness of many miracles, and he saw the compassion that Jesus had on the masses. If seeing that first hand would not change you, then I do not believe anything would. Though Judas experienced what any of us would have loved to have experienced, his greed for money overwhelmed him. Notice what John says about him:
John 12:5 "Why was this fragrant oil not sold for three hundred denarii and given to the poor?"† 6 This he said, not that he cared for the poor, but because he was a thief, and had the money box; and he used to take what was put in it.
In context, Judas was complaining about the woman who poured expensive oil on Jesus. Not only does this show that he was a thief, he was also a liar. He didnít care about the money being used for the poor, he wanted it for himself. The Bible does not tell us, but I wish I knew how much he took from the money box and what he wasted it on. Though we are not given the details in Scripture, I can just imagine Judas hanging on to the money box with all his might. I can see him volunteering to go help the poor while no one is watching, but instead of helping the poor he was sneaking off buying things for himself to eat and drink and then claiming to his fellow apostles that the money was used wisely.
It was pretty bad the Judas was stealing a lying while being named an apostle, but the worst thing that his love for money would cause him to do was betray our Lord for 30 silver coins.
Matthew 26:14 Then one of the twelve, called Judas Iscariot, went to the chief priests† 15 and said, "What are you willing to give me if I deliver Him to you?" And they counted out to him thirty pieces of silver.
It is hard to believe that Judas could put a price on betraying Jesus, but he did because that is how powerful the love of money can be. As Paul said:
1 Timothy 6:9 But those who desire to be rich fall into temptation and a snare, and into many foolish and harmful lusts which drown men in destruction and perdition.† 10 For the love of money is a root of all kinds of evil, for which some have strayed from the faith in their greediness, and pierced themselves through with many sorrows.
The church does not need men in the church who are lovers of money especial in the eldership. If you have elders or an eldership that is greedy for money, they use the contribution for their own projects and their own gains. The money will not be used as should be, which is why one of the qualifications of an elder is not being greedy for money (1 Tim. 3:3). You also do not want a preacher who is greedy for money. When a preacher loves money and simply moves from one congregation to the next one that will pay him more, his motivation is all wrong and he will say anything and preach whatever the people want to hear instead of what they need to here in order to keep the money flowing.
What we need to do is adopt what Agur said in:
Proverbs 30:7 Two things I request of You (Deprive me not before I die):† 8 Remove falsehood and lies far from me; Give me neither poverty nor riches -- Feed me with the food allotted to me;† 9 Lest I be full and deny You, And say, "Who is the LORD?" Or lest I be poor and steal, And profane the name of my God.
Agur did not want to be rich or poor because he understood the temptations both situations bring, so he wanted to have just the right amount. Of course, the best attitude we can have about our money is expressed by Paul:
1 Timothy 6:7 For we brought nothing into this world, and it is certain we can carry nothing out.† 8 And having food and clothing, with these we shall be content.
So, we do not need men in the church who love money, we need men in the church who understand that our riches are in heaven as Jesus said:
Matthew 6:19 " Do not lay up for yourselves treasures on earth, where moth and rust destroy and where thieves break in and steal;† 20 "but lay up for yourselves treasures in heaven, where neither moth nor rust destroys and where thieves do not break in and steal.† 21 "For where your treasure is, there your heart will be also.
Another kind of man we do not need in the church today is a self-righteous man like the Pharisees described by Jesus in:
Luke 18:9 Also He spoke this parable to some who trusted in themselves that they were righteous, and despised others:† 10 "Two men went up to the temple to pray, one a Pharisee and the other a tax collector.† 11 "The Pharisee stood and prayed thus with himself, 'God, I thank You that I am not like other men -- extortioners, unjust, adulterers, or even as this tax collector.† 12 'I fast twice a week; I give tithes of all that I possess.'† 13 "And the tax collector, standing afar off, would not so much as raise his eyes to heaven, but beat his breast, saying, 'God, be merciful to me a sinner!'† 14 "I tell you, this man went down to his house justified rather than the other; for everyone who exalts himself will be humbled, and he who humbles himself will be exalted."
Though this was a parable, it captured the very essences of the mentality that many of the Pharisees had during Jesusí day. Then men thought very highly of themselves and looked down at everyone else. These were kind of men that would have a plank in their eye as they point out a speck in someone elseís eye. This is the kind of man that never thinks he does anything wrong and that he is always right no matter what. He is the kind of man that will step on you like a bug if you get in his way.
I am sure some of you may have known men in the church with this kind of mentality. Men like this are easy to spot because they are very arrogant and prideful. No matter how many Scriptures you might show them that proves that are mistaken in their belief, they will refuse to accept it just like many of the Pharisees in Jesusí day refused to hear the truth that He and His disciples were teaching. If a man like this left alone in the Lordís church, he will cause division and chaos because he will not stop until he runs off those who do not put him on a pedestal.
The Bible teaches us to be just the opposite of a self-righteous Pharisee.
Romans 12:3 For I say, through the grace given to me, to everyone who is among you, not to think of himself more highly than he ought to think, but to think soberly, as God has dealt to each one a measure of faith.
Proverbs 16:18 Pride goes before destruction, And a haughty spirit before a fall. 19 Better to be of a humble spirit with the lowly, Than to divide the spoil with the proud.
Matthew 18:1 At that time the disciples came to Jesus, saying, "Who then is greatest in the kingdom of heaven?" 2 Then Jesus called a little child to Him, set him in the midst of them, 3 and said, "Assuredly, I say to you, unless you are converted and become as little children, you will by no means enter the kingdom of heaven. 4 "Therefore whoever humbles himself as this little child is the greatest in the kingdom of heaven.
A self-righteous person can never be humble, so we do not need these kinds of men the church. Instead, we need men like that tax collector who would not even look up to heaven but humbly prayed to God for forgiveness.
So far in our series, we have looked at the kind of men we need in the church. We looked at many great examples from Bible that men in the church need to emulate. As we did this morning, I think it is important that we also look at the kind of men we do not need in the church as well. So, far we have seen that we do not need dictators, men who do not finish what they start, lovers of money or those who a self-righteous because men like these will cause nothing but problems in the church. Though I cannot cover all the kinds of men we do not need in the church in two lessons, I hope you will come back tonight as we examine some more men from Bible whose characteristics are not needed in the church. I hope if you see that you are like any of these men we have been looking at that you will change your ways.†
MEN NOT NEEDED IN THE CHURCH
This morning we examined several kinds of men that we do not need in the church, which were †dictators, men who do not finish what they start, lovers of money or those who are self-righteous. Tonight, we continue on with this same theme.
Our first example comes from David. Yes, David was man after Godís own heart, but there were different times in his life where he messed up big time. One of the more well-known times he messed up was when he lusted for Bathsheba, slept with her, got her pregnant, tried to cover it up, and then had her husband killed in battle, and took her for his own wife to cover up his adultery.
We certainly do not need men in the church today who would act like David did at this time in his life. But the main point I want to make comes from when Nathan comes and talks to David about what he did in roundabout way.
2 Samuel 11:26 †When the wife of Uriah heard that Uriah her husband was dead, she mourned for her husband.† 27 And when her mourning was over, David sent and brought her to his house, and she became his wife and bore him a son. But the thing that David had done displeased the LORD.† 12:1 Then the LORD sent Nathan to David. And he came to him, and said to him: "There were two men in one city, one rich and the other poor.† 2 "The rich man had exceedingly many flocks and herds.† 3 "But the poor man had nothing, except one little ewe lamb which he had bought and nourished; and it grew up together with him and with his children. It ate of his own food and drank from his own cup and lay in his bosom; and it was like a daughter to him.† 4 "And a traveler came to the rich man, who refused to take from his own flock and from his own herd to prepare one for the wayfaring man who had come to him; but he took the poor man's lamb and prepared it for the man who had come to him."† 5 So David's anger was greatly aroused against the man, and he said to Nathan, "As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!† 6 "And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."† 7 Then Nathan said to David, "You are the man! Thus says the LORD God of Israel: 'I anointed you king over Israel, and I delivered you from the hand of Saul.† 8 'I gave you your master's house and your master's wives into your keeping, and gave you the house of Israel and Judah. And if that had been too little, I also would have given you much more!† 9 'Why have you despised the commandment of the LORD, to do evil in His sight? You have killed Uriah the Hittite with the sword; you have taken his wife to be your wife, and have killed him with the sword of the people of Ammon.† 10 'Now therefore, the sword shall never depart from your house, because you have despised Me, and have taken the wife of Uriah the Hittite to be your wife.'† 11 "Thus says the LORD: 'Behold, I will raise up adversity against you from your own house; and I will take your wives before your eyes and give them to your neighbor, and he shall lie with your wives in the sight of this sun.† 12 'For you did it secretly, but I will do this thing before all Israel, before the sun.' "
I cannot speak for David, but based on what I have read about him, I think that he probably struggled with what he did to Uriah to cover up his adultery. He knew what he was doing, and he knew it was sinful, but he thought he had covered it up. If someone knew what he did, they were not talking about it so David probably felt like he had pulled it off, but at the same time he was probably concerned that the truth would come out.
Along comes Nathan with this story about a manís lamb and how a rich man took advantage of him. David had no problem seeing how sinful this rich man was that took this poor manís lamb and he was ready to make the man pay.
"As the LORD lives, the man who has done this shall surely die!† 6 "And he shall restore fourfold for the lamb, because he did this thing and because he had no pity."†
It is easy for us to see the sin of others, but not so easy for us to see the severity of our own sins. It is easy for us to want to lash out at other people who sin, but when it comes to our sins we want people to be understanding. I can imagine David being all worked up and shouting with vigor what he wanted to happen to this man, but then he hears Nathan say:
"You are the man!
He goes on tell him how the Lord knows about his dirty deed and what punishment is going to follow. I could just imagine the look on Davidís face as he realizes that he was the man being spoken of. I can imagine how overwhelmed he was with guilt as he learned that his sin had found him out.
We do not need men in the church like David was who are willing to condemn others for their sins, when the sin in their life is just as bad or worse. As Paul says:
Romans 2:21 You, therefore, who teach another, do you not teach yourself? You who preach that a man should not steal, do you steal?† 22 You who say, "Do not commit adultery," do you commit adultery? You who abhor idols, do you rob temples?† 23 You who make your boast in the law, do you dishonor God through breaking the law?† 24 For "the name of God is blasphemed among the Gentiles because of you," as it is written.
We do not need men in the church who do not practice what they preach and teach. The Pharisees were also guilty of doing this as well:
Matthew 23:1 Then Jesus spoke to the multitudes and to His disciples,† 2 saying: "The scribes and the Pharisees sit in Moses' seat.† 3 "Therefore whatever they tell you to observe, that observe and do, but do not do according to their works; for they say, and do not do.† 4 "For they bind heavy burdens, hard to bear, and lay them on men's shoulders; but they themselves will not move them with one of their fingers.† 5 "But all their works they do to be seen by men. They make their phylacteries broad and enlarge the borders of their garments.† 6 "They love the best places at feasts, the best seats in the synagogues,† 7 "greetings in the marketplaces, and to be called by men, 'Rabbi, Rabbi.'
We need men in the church who are willing to practice what they preach and teach. If they have a weak moment and sin, we need men who are willing to own up to their sin and realize that it is not the end of the world because our sin can be forgiven. However, when you have a man who so prideful that he does not want to admit his sin and will do whatever he can to cover up like David did, itís obvious how men like this can cause great harm to the Lordís church. So, we do not need men like this in the church. The good news is that men like this can take care of this problem just like David did as we read in:
2 Samuel 12:13 †So David said to Nathan, "I have sinned against the LORD." And Nathan said to David, "The LORD also has put away your sin; you shall not die.† 14 "However, because by this deed you have given great occasion to the enemies of the LORD to blaspheme, the child also who is born to you shall surely die."
This part of Davidís life serves as a good example of how we can overcome the bad characteristic he had in his life at this time. He finally stopped trying cover up his sin and admitted he was a sinner. He was forgiven, but there were still consequences that would come from his sin. Before I leave this section about not condemning people for their sin while trying to cover up your own sin, I do not want there to be any confusion on what I am saying. I am not saying that we should never make a righteous judgment call on a person who is living in sin because the Bible teaches us to do that.
John 7:24 ††"Do not judge according to appearance, but judge with righteous judgment."
1 Thessalonians 5:14 Now we exhort you, brethren, warn those who are unruly, comfort the fainthearted, uphold the weak, be patient with all.
We are to warn each other and make righteous judgments from Godís Word, but not from our opinion.† Please notice what Jesus said in:
†Matthew 7:1 "Judge not, that you be not judged.† 2 "For with what judgment you judge, you will be judged; and with the measure you use, it will be measured back to you.† 3 "And why do you look at the speck in your brother's eye, but do not consider the plank in your own eye?† 4 "Or how can you say to your brother, 'Let me remove the speck from your eye'; and look, a plank is in your own eye?† 5 "Hypocrite! First remove the plank from your own eye, and then you will see clearly to remove the speck from your brother's eye.
Many read verses 1-4 and do not read verse 5. They will say, ďsee, we should not judge or go to someone and tell them about their sin, but this is not what Jesus is saying. Verse 5 shows that we must first take care of the sin in our life before we go trying to remove the sin from our brother or sister in Christ. This is exactly what we saw Nathan doing with David. Nathan did not have a plank in his eye, so he could clearly see how to remove the speck from Davidís eye, but David was just the opposite. He had this big plank in his own eye and was ready to bring down his wrath on the rich man who took the poor manís lamb. So, this is difference that Jesus is talking about.
Another kind of man we do not need in the church is a man like the elder brother in the parable of the prodigal son. This is a beautiful parable that teaches us that God is always waiting for us to return to Him and He will take us back when we make that decision. This is what happens to the prodigal son because he leaves his fatherís house blows his inheritance on prodigal living and hits rock bottom. He then remembers his father and decided to go back as a servant, but his father runs out to meet him and welcomes him back home as a son. We then read:
Luke 15:25 "Now his older son was in the field. And as he came and drew near to the house, he heard music and dancing.† 26 "So he called one of the servants and asked what these things meant.† 27 "And he said to him, 'Your brother has come, and because he has received him safe and sound, your father has killed the fatted calf.'† 28 "But he was angry and would not go in. Therefore his father came out and pleaded with him.† 29 "So he answered and said to his father, 'Lo, these many years I have been serving you; I never transgressed your commandment at any time; and yet you never gave me a young goat, that I might make merry with my friends.† 30 'But as soon as this son of yours came, who has devoured your livelihood with harlots, you killed the fatted calf for him.'† 31 "And he said to him, 'Son, you are always with me, and all that I have is yours.† 32 'It was right that we should make merry and be glad, for your brother was dead and is alive again, and was lost and is found.' "
This older brother had the wrong attitude because all he could think about was how he had lived his life for his father and had never gone away. He was having hard time understanding why they should be celebrating the return of his sinful brother. His father tried to explain it to him to help open his eyes to why he should be thankful and be celebrating the return of his brother, but we are left to wonder if he ever changed his view of the matter.
One thing I know for sure is that we do not need men in the church with this kind of mentality. Sometimes men and women have the same struggle as the older brother when it comes to those who have left the church and have come back. While they have remained in the Lordís kingdom for many years, and then see a man or a woman come back to the Lord after going off and doing all kinds of sinful things, they have hard time celebrating the return of this sinner. Instead, they question the sincerity of the person and are not convinced that they really have changed their ways.
This is the wrong mentality to have. In that same chapter, two other parables are given that talks about how all heaven rejoices when a lost sinner returns back to the fold of God. When someone comes forward and repents, we need to accept their repentance and welcome them back to fold. If we do not and we turn a cold shoulder to them, this can be detrimental to their soul. It can make them feel unwanted and cause them turn back again to the world. Paul talks about this in:
2 Corinthians 2:6 This punishment which was inflicted by the majority is sufficient for such a man,† 7 so that, on the contrary, you ought rather to forgive and comfort him, lest perhaps such a one be swallowed up with too much sorrow.† 8 Therefore I urge you to reaffirm your love to him.
It is believed this is referring to the man who committed adultery with his fatherís wife 1 Cor. 5. Even if it is not, it is referring to someone that was disfellowshipped by the church and it implies that he had repented. So, Paulís instructions are that it is time for forgiveness to take place and to comfort the man so that he is not swallowed up by too much sorrow. They are to reaffirm their love for him.
Everyone likes to be given the benefit of the doubt. I have heard of fallen Christians that were not and it caused them to become bitter against the church, caused them to attack the church, and caused many problems. While it may be easier to simply cut off someone that messed up big time, itís not the right thing to do. I have also heard stories about Christians that fell away into a very dark place for many years, but then woke up like the prodigal son and came back to the Lord and were welcomed back. Since they had the proper encouragement, they went on to do great things for the kingdom of God.
So, we need men in the church that are willing to celebrate and rejoice when a lost sinner comes back home. We need men that will encourage that lost soul to continue down the righteous path because sometimes the greatest soldiers of Christ are those that fell away and then returned.
However, at the same time just because someone comes back from a sinful lifestyle does not mean that they will not return to it again, but our goal should be to help keep them motivated from being like a dog that returns back to its vomit. If they do, then church discipline must be used.
Another kind of man that we do not need in the church is one who wants the approval of man over God, like King Saul. King Saul was supposed to totally destroy his enemy and their flocks, but he did not. So, Samuel has a talk with him in:
1 Samuel 15:16 Then Samuel said to Saul, "Be quiet! And I will tell you what the LORD said to me last night." And he said to him, "Speak on."† 17 So Samuel said, "When you were little in your own eyes, were you not head of the tribes of Israel? And did not the LORD anoint you king over Israel?† 18 "Now the LORD sent you on a mission, and said, 'Go, and utterly destroy the sinners, the Amalekites, and fight against them until they are consumed.'† 19 "Why then did you not obey the voice of the LORD? Why did you swoop down on the spoil, and do evil in the sight of the LORD?"† 20 And Saul said to Samuel, "But I have obeyed the voice of the LORD, and gone on the mission on which the LORD sent me, and brought back Agag king of Amalek; I have utterly destroyed the Amalekites.† 21 "But the people took of the plunder, sheep and oxen, the best of the things which should have been utterly destroyed, to sacrifice to the LORD your God in Gilgal."† 22 Then Samuel said: "Has the LORD as great delight in burnt offerings and sacrifices, As in obeying the voice of the LORD? Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.† 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected you from being king."† 24 Then Saul said to Samuel, "I have sinned, for I have transgressed the commandment of the LORD and your words, because I feared the people and obeyed their voice.
At first, Saul had convinced himself that he had done no wrong and had followed the word of God, but Samuel tells him clearly that he has sinned. Saul probably thought it would be good enough to destroy most of the things he was to destroy and allow the people to have a few things their way, but as we just read, that does not work with God. When He commands you do something, He doesnít grade you on a curve, He expects you to do what He said. If you leave one part of it out or only do it part of the way, you have rejected the word of God. Saul let us know the reason he did what he did was because he wanted to be popular in the eyes of his people by allowing them to have their way.
We certainly do not need men like this in the church who are willing to compromise Godís Word to make the people happy. It is certainly easier to tell people what they want to hear and add or take things away from Godís Word that we do not like, but it is the wrong thing to do. When you have men like this in the church, you are going to have a church that looks nothing like the one you read about in the Bible because it will be a church that is manís ways instead of Godís way. In my opinion, this mentality is one of the quickest ways to destroy a congregation because once you are not that concerned with what Godís Word says and you do what the majority wants you have a drifted away from God, and the same basic message that Samuel spoke could be said to you:
Behold, to obey is better than sacrifice, And to heed than the fat of rams.† 23 For rebellion is as the sin of witchcraft, And stubbornness is as iniquity and idolatry. Because you have rejected the word of the LORD, He also has rejected youÖ
I hope we never allow ourselves to go down this road. Instead, I hope that we always do our best to follow Godís commands all the way because that is the only way we can keep from sinning and keep the church pure.
Our last example for tonight is that we do not need men in the church who are procrastinators like Felix.
Acts 24:24 And after some days, when Felix came with his wife Drusilla, who was Jewish, he sent for Paul and heard him concerning the faith in Christ.† 25 Now as he reasoned about righteousness, self-control, and the judgment to come, Felix was afraid and answered, "Go away for now; when I have a convenient time I will call for you."
Felix was not a Christian and Paul did his best to teach him about Christ and the judgment to come, but Felix put it off because he was a procrastinator. While this particular example is about a non-Christian man who is putting off his decision about Christianity, the point I want make is from procrastination itself. I think we all understand how dangerous it can be for non-Christian to procrastinate when it comes to obeying the gospel because no one is guaranteed that tomorrow will come.
However, procrastination is also bad character flaw for men in the church to have as well. It is easy to put off doing work for the Lord. It is easy to say, ďyes, that needs to be done, and I am going to do it, but I think I will do it later.Ē We are really good at putting things off and making excuses of why we cannot do it today, but the problem is that tomorrow never comes and we never get around to doing what we know needs to be done. So, we do not need men in the church that continue to procrastinate in serving God. Instead, we need men that are willing to work for the Lord and get their hands dirty. We only have a short time on this earth, so we need to make the most of the time we have and stop making excuses for what we know needs to be done.
In conclusion, we have examined several examples of bad characteristics that men do not need to have in the church. If you have any of these characteristics, I hope you will recognize the need to change these flaws in your life. This certainly applies to the ladies as well. Our goal should always be to improve ourselves so that we can be the best servants of God that we can be so that we can glorify our Father in heaven and do our part to help His kingdom grow and remain strong.