Our walk with Christ comes before all else; everything else–missions, evangelism, worship–comes out of that relationship.
6 Righteousness guards the person of integrity, but wickedness [doing things our way with no regard for God*] overthrows the sinner [it always backfires eventually].
Our integrity (who we are when no one is looking–except God) is dependent upon how closely we are walking with the Lord. We have no goodness of our own, therefore, when we step away from the Master, we go back to our own way of doing things, which is wickedness*. Lest we deceive ourselves, any time we deviate from the Lord’s will, we are serving ourselves, which serves Satan. Jesus said to remain in His love (John 15:4, 5, 6, 7, 9). Verse 10 tells us how:
10 If you keep my commands, you will remain in my love, just as I have kept my Father’s commands and remain in his love.
We have His word on the matter plus His example. Verse 11 tells us why:
11 I have told you this so that my joy may be in you and that your joy may be complete.
Jesus is in us, therefore, we feel His joy. When do we feel that joy? When we remain in His love by keeping His commands. His first command is to believe in/on Him (John 6:29), first for salvation and then for daily transformation. Do we really believe what Jesus said about living waters springing out of us (John 4:14, 7:38)? How about the part where He calls us the light of the world (Matthew 5:14)? Do you believe that we are his spiritual siblings (Matthew 12:50)?
Now, how about those other commands:
- Missions– How can we go if we are not listening to the One who sends us?
- Evangelism– How will we know what to say if we are not paying attention to Him who is drawing them?
- Worship– Why do we think that we are worshiping Him when we are not obeying Him? Obedience sets the stage for worship because worship is our response to our heavenly Father through Jesus Christ in the Spirit. True worship is honoring Him by staying right by His side. The old hymn was right, “What He says we will do, where He sends we will go; never fear, only trust and obey.” He will never tell us to do something that He is not right there doing it with us. He will never tell us to go anywhere that He is not right there beside us. Remember that HE IS INSIDE OF US.
Now that we are committed to believe and obey Him, we are ready to love each other. In fact, it’s His first command: “A new command I give you: Love one another. As I have loved you, so you must love one another. 35 By this everyone will know that you are my disciples, if you love one another” (John 13:34-35). He emphasized it three times in this passage, so I think it’s important! But, we can only do it when our personal relationship with Him is right. Our purity of mind, heart, and body, as well as our righteousness that is seen by the world hinges on our staying close to Jesus. Our position in Christ is sealed; our fellowship is not.
Read His Word. Talk to Him in Prayer. Be a Do-er and not just a Hear-er.
The interesting thing is when we are close to Him, our righteousness shines “like stars in the universe”(Philippians 2:15), and people are attracted to Him through us. Let’s not worry so much about going FOR Him until we have learned to stay WITH Him.
Abba, thank You for Skip Robinson, who taught me–and the others at my church–to trust in and walk with Jesus. My steady walk with You began then and has continued to today. May I walk ever closer to You so that You can do mighty things with me, all for Your glory, LORD. Amen.