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                  "THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHRISTIAN"


INTRODUCTION

1. When Samuel was sent to anoint the new king of Israel, he learned 
   that God's measure of a person was different than man's - 1 Sa 16:
   6-7

2. The same is true today...God's measure of a Christian is often 
   different than that applied by many people

3. In this lesson...
   a. I want to review the measure often used by brethren to evaluate 
      one another
   b. And then consider what is God's measure, which ought to be ours
      as well

[We begin with...]

I. THE MEASURE OFTEN USED BY BRETHREN

   A. WE OFTEN MEASURE CHRISTIANS BY...
      1. Their ATTENDANCE at the services of the church
         a. If they attend ALL of the services, then they must be 
            "faithful brethren"
         b. If they attend SOME of the services, they must be "weak 
            brethren"
      2. Their PARTICIPATION in church-related activities
         a. If they participate in ALL of the activities...
            1) Such as Bible classes
            2) Or Evangelism classes, Visitation programs, etc.
            -- Then they truly must be "strong brethren"
         b. But if for ANY reason they do not participate in all that
            the church offers, their "commitment" is certainly suspect!
      3. Their LEADERSHIP abilities
         a. MEN are considered strong Christians if they...
            1) Lead singing, prayers, help serve the Lord's Supper
            2) Teach classes, preach sermons
         b. WOMEN are considered strong Christians if they...
            1) Teach children's classes, women's classes
            2) Prepare communion, clean the building

   B. THE PROBLEM WITH THIS MEASURE...
      1. It tends to measure the OUTSIDE of man
         a. People can do all these things, and still be spiritually
            destitute on the INSIDE (I have known some like this)
         b. "Hypocrites" can exist very comfortably with such a 
            measure!
         c. Brethren can remain in "spiritual immaturity" if this is 
            the only measure given to them
      2. It tends to neglect the multi-faceted nature of the body of 
         Christ
         a. Especially if emphasis is on the PUBLIC functions of the 
            church
         b. And if emphasis is placed on one function over another 
            (e.g., teaching over service) - cf. Ro 12:3-8

[Because of these "tendencies," the use of such measures is wrought
with the potential of misjudging and condemning one another.  This is 
something we want to avoid (Jm 4:11-12).

What, then, ought to be the measure of a strong Christian?]

II. THE MEASURE OF A STRONG CHRISTIAN

   A. IS FOUND IN SCRIPTURES SUCH AS...
      1. Ga 5:22-23
         a. Here are qualities of man who is truly SPIRITUAL
         b. This is evidence that is truly led by the Spirit of God
         c. Now one who is truly "spiritual" will certainly be involved
            in various "activities" of the church - e.g., Ga 6:1-2
         d. But this measure requires that the "inner man" be changed
            first!
      2. Col 3:12-17
         a. Again, this measure begins with the "inner man"
         b. But it carries over to our relationship with one another in
            such activities as Bible study and singing
      3. Consider other passages, such as those given to:
         a. Preachers
            1) One may preach a great sermon, but what of his personal
               life? - 1Ti 6:11; 2Ti 2:22
            2) He may be willing to contend for the faith, but in the
               right spirit? - 1Ti 6:12; 2Ti 2:23-25
         b. Bishops (elders, pastors)
            1) They may be married and have children who believe - cf.
               Tit 1:5-6
            2) But are they quick to anger, unable to teach others?
               - cf. Tit 1:7-9
         c. Members, young and old
            1) They may be attending the services faithfully
            2) But is their conduct becoming their stage in life? - cf.
               Tit 2:1-8

   B. THE CHALLENGES OF SUCH A MEASURE...
      1. It emphasizes the reformation of the INSIDE of a person first,
         trusting that the outside will naturally follow
         a. I.e., it requires "transformation," when conformation would
            be a lot easier
         b. Transformation takes more time than simply conforming
            1) Time some brethren may not wish to take
            2) Either for themselves, or for those whom they want to 
               quickly conform to their ideas and programs
            3) E.g., trying to get involved in teaching before one is
               ready, just to make oneself look good - cf. Jm 3:1-2
      2. This is a measure that often only the LORD sees
         a. We see each other only for a short time each week
            1) It is easy to "put on a front", to pretend to be 
               something we are not
            2) But the Lord sees us as we really are!
         b. On the other hand, brethren who may seem "passive" when we
            are together may be extremely "active" when apart
            1) Active in their warfare against personal sin
            2) Active in their daily service to others in the name of
               Christ
            -- Activity which we may never SEE, but the Lord knows!

CONCLUSION

1. The purpose in discussing the true measure of a Christian...
   a. Has NOT been so we can go around and judge others
   b. But to suggest caution in how we measure others!
   c. And to make sure that we are properly measuring our own selves!

2. The statement of the Lord to Samuel still applies today:

   "Do not look at his appearance or at the height of his stature,
   because I have refused him. For the Lord does not see as man sees;
   for man looks at the outward appearance, but the LORD looks at 
   the heart." (1 Sa 16:7)

Let's be sure the "measure" by which we examine ourselves is the same 
one used by the Lord!
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