“Let no one look down on your youthfulness, but rather in speech, conduct, love, faith, and purity, show yourself an example of those who believe.” Paul, I Timothy 4:12
In his first letter to Timothy, Paul lists five areas in which we may demonstrate that Christ has impacted our lives. It’s telling that he writes, “...show yourself an example of those who believe.” He doesn’t instruct Timothy to walk around telling people that he believes in Jesus. Instead, Paul instructs him to show others. That’s because talk is cheap. Integrity is not a given. Our culture teaches people to say what is expedient, whether it is true or not.
But action, now that’s another matter altogether. People do what they believe - everything else is just talk.
So Paul tells us to show people, by the way we live, what it means to be a Christ-follower. This is really just another way of saying, “Be salt and light wherever you go.” Let people see Jesus in you by the way you live.
Last week we talked about how we can use our words the way that Jesus used His words. This week, let’s talk about our conduct.
I have a question for you - who is conducting your conduct?
“Conduct” is a funny word. It can be a noun or a verb.
Conduct - kon-duhkt (noun) - Personal behavior; way of acting
Conduct - kuhn-duhkt (verb) - To direct in action or course; manage
So...who is conducting (directing; managing) your conduct (personal behavior)?
When I was a kid, there was a comedian named Flip Wilson. He would pretend to be a woman named “Geraldine.” And Geraldine was BAD. She misbehaved...a lot. And her excuse was always the same - “The devil made me do it.”
We live in a world that always wants to blame someone else.
-Husbands blame wives; wives blame husband.
-Kids blame their parents; parents blame their kids.
-Bosses blame workers; workers blame bossess.
-Democrats blame Republican; Republicans blame Democrats.
-We blame our circumstances; bad luck; Satan; God
Who have you been blaming this week?
Let me give you some truth here. You are responsible for yourself. You are the one who is responsible for conducting your conduct, for managing your personal behavior. Certainly, I cannot control everything or everyone that enters my life. But I CAN control my response to them. And the way I respond, especially in difficult circumstances, is what distinguishes me as a Christ-follower...or not.
So here are some ways to activate this in your life.
First, don’t let yourself be ruled by your emotions. Just because you feel something doesn’t mean you have to act on it. Emotions are great teachers, but they are terrible masters. They may reveal what is going on in you internally, but the danger is that we will respond emotionally, and that seldom works out well. Conduct your emotions. Manage them, or they will manage you.
Second, don’t let yourself be ruled by your circumstances. Why do bad things happen to good people? Because bad things happen to everyone. They are just part of the collateral damage of living in a fallen world. If you let yourself be controlled by your circumstances, then you will find yourself on an emotional roller coaster - exhilarated when things are going well; nauseous when they are not.
Third, don’t let yourself be ruled by people. I like to say, “God loves you, and I have a wonderful plan for your life.” So does everyone else. Everyone thinks they know what you should do with your life. Everyone has advice for you. Everyone knows how you should handle your situations. So my question is, “Why, then, are these same people, who seem to know so much, so messed up themselves?” Don’t let others conduct your life.
Here’s what God says: “...the Holy Spirit...gives you mighty power, love, and self-control.” (II Timothy 1:7
Self-control is really “God-control.” It is allowing God to take control of your emotions, your circumstances, your people. It is allowing Him to so control you, that He is conducting your conduct through you.
People who do that are rare. They stand out in a crowd, because they are so unusual. Other people take notice. You have become salt and light, with the result that people will observe your conduct, and be pointed to Jesus.