We have been addressing the topic of 'Growing Spiritually' for last few Sunday evenings. We first talked about the necessity of being confident in our relationship with God in order to facilitate spiritual growth. Last week we discussed the importance of taking a disciplined approach to the Word of God. And this evening we want to continue to look at another important key to spiritual growth, and that is developing a love for the local church.
This is the second part of last week's message. We previously discussed a couple of ways to develop a love for the church. First we must be here! We will never develop a love for the local church if we do not attend. And then we spent time talking about honoring the leaders of the church. Paul wrote, "…Esteem them very highly in love for their work's sake…"
Now this evening, we want to consider a few more ways that will help us develop a love for the church.
I. We Develop a Love for the Church by Warning the Unruly (v.14a).
A. Who are the Unruly?
1. "Unruly" is a word we may use to describe children…
2. We might use it to refer to some of our teens in the youth department…
3. But surely we wouldn't use it to refer to any of the adults in our church…or should we?
4. The word literally means 'unarranged' or 'out of order'.
5. With my vast courtroom experience from Perry Mason, Matlock, and Jack McCoy I know what it means to be 'out of order'.
6. Men do laundry much differently than women.
a. Occasionally when I do a load of laundry I will really do a 'load' of laundry.
b. In my mind, the more I can shove into the washer, the fewer loads I will have to do.
c. My wife has been trying to teach me the fine art of patience when it comes to doing the laundry, but it's only been 35 years so I haven't learned my lessons yet.
d. I notice that my loads tend to create a real problem when it comes to the spin cycle…the washer does a little dance and makes loud thumping noises just before it screeches to a dead stop!
e. Why? The load gets out of balance…it is out of order… it becomes unruly!
7. According to the divinely inspired Scriptures, the same thing happens in churches.
a. Church members become unruly…
b. They get out of balance and must be ruled out of order… I am talking about Church discipline!
(2 Thessalonians 3:6) Now we command you, brethren, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ, that ye withdraw yourselves from every brother that walketh disorderly, and not after the tradition which he received of us.
(2 Thessalonians 3:11) For we hear that there are some which walk among you disorderly, working not at all, but are busybodies.
c. They create a problem…they distract from the unity of the church.
d. They are those who are out of step with the church…they reveal this by their behavior.
e. Perhaps it is a life that is contrary to God's Word.
f. Or maybe they are less overt…they sit back and criticize and complain.
g. They do not esteem their leaders, but seek to divide and create strife.
8. If we love the church, we will warn the unruly members.
a. Today is Mothers Day…
b. I don't know how many mothers have said something similar to this…
c. "This is for your own good; I am doing this because I love you!"
d. We do not express our love by not disciplining the unruly, but just the opposite.
(Hebrews 12:6) For whom the Lord loveth he chasteneth, and scourgeth every son whom he receiveth.
II. We Develop a Love for the Church by Comforting the Feebleminded (v.14b).
A. Who Are the Feebleminded?
1. The term 'feebleminded' has nothing to do with mentality.
2. It actually means the 'fainthearted'.
3. They are the ones who are first to give up and quit.
4. They need to be encouraged.
B. How Do We Comfort Them?
1. "Comfort" means "to draw alongside to instruct."
2. It is often translated "encourage" or "console."
3. Many in the church are in need of "comfort."
4. If we love the church we will comfort the fainthearted.
5. As we strengthen one believer we strengthen the whole church because a chain is only as strong as its weakest link.
III. We Develop a Love for the Church by Supporting the Weak (v.14c).
A. Who Are the Weak?
1. The weak are those who are not mature in the Lord.
2. They need to be helped and supported until they can walk in the Lord.
B. How Do We Support Them?
1. Picture a house being framed up.
a. All around are these 2x4 studs.
b. If you look closely you will see that they are put together in such a way that they support one another.
c. They are connected to form braces.
d. That's the idea here: to support someone is to brace them up because they cannot stand the weight of sin on their own.
(Galatians 6:1-2) Brethren, if a man be overtaken in a fault, ye which are spiritual, restore such an one in the spirit of meekness; considering thyself, lest thou also be tempted. Bear ye one another's burdens, and so fulfil the law of Christ.
IV. We Develop a Love for the Church by being Patient with All (v.14d).
A. Understanding Patience.
1. This isn't difficult to understand, but it is difficult to do.
2. The idea of patience is rapidly disappearing from our culture and society.
3. We want what we want and we want it right now!
4. We don't like to wait for anything, yet if we are to be like our Lord…we must be patient.
5. You cannot read the Scriptures without that fact jumping out…God is patient with us!
(2 Peter 3:9) The Lord is not slack concerning his promise, as some men count slackness; but is longsuffering to us-ward, not willing that any should perish, but that all should come to repentance.
B. What that means
1. Being patient means investing time in the life of others.
2. Being patient means forgiving those who 'get under our skin'.
3. Forgive them... how many times?
4. Oh yeah, now I remember "seventy times seven".
(Matthew 18:21-22) Then came Peter to him, and said, Lord, how oft shall my brother sin against me, and I forgive him? till seven times? Jesus saith unto him, I say not unto thee, Until seven times: but, Until seventy times seven.
V. We Develop a Love for the Church by Doing what is Good (v.15).
(James 1:22) But be ye doers of the word, and not hearers only, deceiving your own selves.
(James 4:17) Therefore to him that knoweth to do good, and doeth it not, to him it is sin.
A. What does it mean to do good?
1. As James reminds us, it is to behave biblically.
2. Paul wrote, "See that none render evil for evil"
3. Does that seem odd to you? He is addressing believers…Christians…church members!
4. It is but a reminder of who and what we are.
5. We need to be reminded to do good, because it doesn't come automatically.
6. We are sinners, by nature…that means what comes natural for us is to retaliate when we are hurt.
7. We seek vengeance for wrong doing.
(Romans 12:19) Dearly beloved, avenge not yourselves, but rather give place unto wrath: for it is written, Vengeance is mine; I will repay, saith the Lord.
8. When we render evil for evil, it isn't doing good!
B. How are we to do 'good' to all?
1. Once again, it is a choice we make.
2. Satan has been very effective in our thinking that we must look for others to blame for our own wrong behavior!
3. It isn't someone else…it isn't the circumstances…it is our choice!
4. God's Word admonishes us to choose to do that which is good!
5. Not just to our friends…not just to our church members…but "…to all men."