Tuesday, August 30, 2005

Pure Religion in God's Eyes

This is my personal summary sermon of Rev.Dr.Stephen Tong's Sermon on James 1:26-27 on 28 August 2005

How do we know if a person is godly?
From passive angle, speech control is a very clear judgment of spirituality.

Sometimes within 10 minutes of talk you can tell a person's principles and spiritual level. James 1:26 tells us that we can judge a person's spirituality by the things he speaks. Often times the more a person reasons, the more he excuses himself, justifies himself and conceals himself. Often times the more you talk the less you influence.

When we measure ourselves by ourselves, we are trapped in ourselves. If we use others to measure ourselves, we are trapped in man-centeredness. Our judgment is often influenced by those around us. The knowledge of self in Christianity is seen from how God looks at us. Before God, we can recognize how shallow we are and what a long way we have to go. Only in this state, our spirituality can grow.

A godly man is full of self-control. When you are guarded by the Word of God, you can keep speaking and the words are still helpful because all the words are controlled.

In speech, we should also think of when to speak and when not to speak. We damage relationships by speaking too early certain things that should be reserved for later time. It is silly to monopolize a conversation, to outtalk another person or to block a person's conversation. If you realize that others have things to contribute, you should let them speak and you take the opportunity to learn.

From active angle, spirituality is manifested in our care for others. A godly person is not selfish but self-sacrificial. It is not possible to live abundant life if we cannot break through from our own lives.

How do we help others? We need to obtain abundant life before trying to help others. Helping others is not just a question of motivation, degree or skill. It is a question of whether you have abundant life or not.

Abundant life is built upon the foundation of self-sacrifice. Only when a person can leave himself, can abundant life be possible. Jesus says to deny ourselves else we cannot follow Him. In this freedom from ourselves, we become the disciples of Christ.

Religions see sin only from external actions. Only Christianity sees sin from self-centeredness as the foundation of sin. Pure and faultless religiosity start from motivation.

Ethics of Christianity is not actions. Christianity is the ethics of motives. Men look at the external but God looks at the heart.

Life is not dependent on our possessions, our length of life, or people's opinions of us, whether praise or despise. All these cannot represent the value of our life. It is before God that we measure the value of our life.

Deep in our heart, are we truly honest before God? In all we do, do we have other motives? Motivation combined with teaching of pure Truth is very precious, regardless of methods, experience or education. If a person wants glory from others, he is not true. Only a person who wants the glory of God is true. Are we true?

The pulpit is full of useless messages and gossips spread faster than the gospel. A lot of churches now take away the glory from God and serve themselves in their fervency. The more people like that fill the church, the more hypocrisy there is. The saddest thing in the world is to have given up everything for the Lord, and to be given up by Him because He refuses to use us due to our deceit.

We need to solemnly ask ourselves why we do what we do. When we are pure, our words and our ministry are very powerful.

Next to pure motivation, another important thing in ministry is willingness to condescend and sacrifice ourselves. Many pastors continue to move up and are in the worst spiritual state when they are at their highest posts. There is nothing wrong with promotion itself, but our heart has to go down to those poorer than us. We need to develop and maintain a strong sense of direction in our ministry.

Ministry is love. Love is not to take, but to share. Love is not for self, but to deny self. Love is not to gain but to give up. A lot of times, our seeking, our pursuit, our admiration, are really for ourselves and not others. Whether we can love the unlovable tells where we are spiritually. We ought to ask ourselves what contributions we have done to those lower than us and why do we choose to serve those of equal status or higher status than us.

Even when sympathizing the poor, we need to understand the fundamental love. Else our sympathy is filled with pride and the emotion is one of superiority. This kind of sympathy blocks self-sacrificial love. When we understand that we are made in the image of God, and are able to see our fellow human beings in this way, we can love without retaining a superior status.

Verse 27 also ends by saying that we need to keep ourselves from being polluted by the world. So in our lifestyle of helping others, we need to beware that we do not fall into traps of temptation and sin. This is true religion in God's eyes.
Personal Note: Basically purity is defined as the heart that does begins and ends in God. It cannot be defined without relation with our heart towards God Himself. With this kind of heart, our good works are rooted in pure foundation of Truth.


At 2:34 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Am also attending his lectures and I find that Rev Tong is one of the rarest talents in our times. His ideas are impactful and he is so real. Keep up the good work Mej,the english speaking Christians need to hear more of these than so much rubbish and hotwash presented in churches now a days.

At 1:15 AM, Blogger Mejlina Tjoa said...

Oh good to know that you are attending his lectures. I agree that solid preaching based on God's Truth is very rare today and that a lot of the church pulpit ministry today cannot even measure up to the standard of worldly wisdom. Let's do our best to learn, live and impart the treasures passed down to us. :)

At 3:40 PM, Blogger kitmei said...

" Precious Sharing ! Gratitude with Tears !! "Before God, we can recognize how shallow we are and what a long way we have to go. Only in this state, our spirituality can grow. "" Self-Controlled under His Words ; Self-Sacrificial under His Will ; Self-Purified under His Truth ! " Thank U Mejlina and Pastor Stephen ... Growth under the power of the Almighty , and His unfailing love on guy like me !"

In Christ,Kitmei


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