0244 Coping in Today's World
Encounter Radio Outline #0244
Air date: 11/3/02
Coping in Today’s World
by Dr. Stephen F. Olford
VI. How to Cope with Ostentation in Our Social Life (v. 16)
If there is anything which repels people in the home, in the church, or in the world, it is conceitedness. Ostentation is showiness and boastful exhibition, and it is hated by churched and unchurched people alike. No unconverted person wants to feel inferior or stupid. Much of the adverse reaction to the “Church Establishment” today is because of ostentation.
VII. How to Cope with Provocation in Our Social Life (v. 17)
It is the most natural thing in all the world to return evil for evil, but this is not what the Bible teaches (Prov. 20:22; 24:29). A follower of the Lord Jesus should not try to “get even” with someone who has done him an injustice. If we have been truly crucified with Christ, then we are dead to provocation. We must learn to accept the provocations of life as the nails that hold us to the cross in order that the life and love of Jesus might be magnified in our mortal bodies. His was a disposition of non-violence (1 Peter 2:23), and if we want to cope with provocation in our social life we must live like Him (1 Peter 2:21).
VIII. How to Cope with Dedication in Our Social Life (v. 17)
The world is the most acute and accurate critic of the Christian church. The world knows the difference between busy occupation and holy dedication. Occupation without dedication is unacceptable to God, but occupation with dedication is “our reasonable service” (12:1).
How wonderfully this is illustrated in the life and ministry of our Lord (Heb. 10:7; Ps. 40:7). Though He was God of very God, in His humanity He fulfilled that promise in a life of total dedication. His absorbing passion was to find God’s will, follow God’s will, and then finish God’s will. By the fulfilling of the will of God to the uttermost, Christ sanctified His people and provided the perfection which was unattainable on the basis of the ancient sacrifices. But even more than this, by the fulfillment of the divine will the Lord Jesus demonstrated, once and for all, the true meaning of dedication, even to the death of the cross.
IX. How to Cope with Interaction in Our Social Life (v. 18)
This precept is necessarily conditional. The believer is to ensure that he himself is not responsible for breaking the peace. Peace is a mutual relationship and, therefore, involves interaction. The preservation of it does not always lie within the believer’s control. Faithfulness to God must never be sacrificed for the sake of peace. On the other hand, we are to see to it that we do not cherish feelings of bitterness and retaliation. In other words, the responsibility for discord must never lie at our door.
While we know that there will never be lasting peace on earth until the Prince of Peace returns, there is a glorious ministry committed to the children of God to harmonize human relationships among men. The greatest concept of our calling is that we are the ministers of reconciliation. God, in Christ, has made possible the basis of reconciliation, but we must go out to share the blessing of reconciliation (2 Cor. 5:20). We know that when men and women are right with God they will be right with one another.
X. How to Cope with Retribution in Our Social Life (v. 19)
While scholars differ as to the exact interpretation of this verse, the general idea is clear. We live in a world of retribution. And while the Christian is involved in that world, his reaction in a climate of vindictiveness must be Christ-like. The word “avenge” means “to vindicate one’s rights.” The thought is that of instead of executing vengeance for ourselves, we are to abandon the offender to the vengeance of God who alone knows all the facts and, therefore, will judge rightly. There is no vindictiveness in God. His nature is one of holy love and holy light, therefore, all His actions are free, pure and good.
XI. How to Cope with Opposition in Our Social Life (v. 20)
As we have seen throughout this passage, each precept is a link in the total chain of truth. So we find that in a world of retribution there is a spirit of opposition. And whether or not we like to admit it, everyone of us has enemies. But the Christian’s attitude to those who oppose him should be that of magnanimity and hospitality. This is the Christian’s only form of revenge, and it is the very antithesis of retaliation. The art of coping with opposition embraces all sorts of kindness and ensures that hospitality will be broken down and the enemy brought to the place of repentance.
Stephen Olford Center for Biblical Preaching
P.O. Box 757800 Memphis, TN 38175-7800
Phone: (901) 757-7977 or (800) 843-2241 Fax: (901) 757-1372
Comments? Send mail to: OMI@olford.org