Sunday, May 15, 2016

The "Each Other" Teachings of Jesus - Part 5: Teach and Counsel Each Other

Let the message about Christ, in all its richness, fill your lives. Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God with thankful hearts.    Colossians 3:16(NLT)
Our study of the "each other" teachings of Jesus brings us to the need of the body of Christ to instruct – or teach and counsel each other in Christ’s love. 
Teaching assumes there is learning going on.  A favorite story of mine is about the particular church denomination that believed in baptismal sanctification (the moment you are baptized, you are sanctified, and therefore perfect – you won't ever sin again). 
One winter an older man got convicted, and decided to join the group.  It was winter time and he wanted to be baptized right away; but the creek was frozen over.  Well, he had a great desire to be pure, so he convinced the elders to baptize him. 
They cut a hole in the ice, took the old fellow and dunked him in the hole, all the way, twice for good measure.  As he came out the second time from the freezing water hole, the old man gushed:  Oh; it's so wonderful.  I'm sanctified.  I’m so blessed; I don't even feel the cold
The head elder said, Let's dunk him again boys, he's still lyin'!
Paul wanted to teach the believers at Colosse how to live as Christians.  In the first 15 verses of this chapter Paul lists the Christian virtues and vices; he advises us to:  Avoid the vices – live by the virtues
It is important that new believers learn these; it is important that all believers are reminded of these. 
Why?  Because the extent to which unbelievers will get a true impression of genuine Christianity is the extent to which we who claim to belong to Christ Jesus exhibit the virtues, and shun the vices. 
After all, are we not the only Bible most of the world will ever read?
So, if you want to help the body of Christ be obedient to the Lord’s command to be witnesses of His love to the world, you must make certain there are some basic factors working.  We do that by teaching, or edifying one another. 
The word “edify” means to build-up!  How do we build, or teach one another? 
Well, after listing the virtues and vices, Paul then told the folks what to do about them.  Consider these three ways we teach one another…
From The Heart
Let the word of Christ dwell in you richly Colossians 3:16a(KJV)
The word dwell means reside.  Christ takes up residence in the believer's heart.  Christian virtues are not developed by practice and putting on a façade; they're a result of Christ dwelling richly, or effectively filling your heart. 
A teacher must teach from the heart, and in order to teach Christ from the heart, Christ must be living there.  And, as Christ takes up residence in our heart, our residence is changed as well; we become citizens of the Kingdom.
Some of you may remember comedian Yakov Smirnoff.  He said when he first came to the United States from Russia he wasn't prepared for the incredible variety of instant products available in American grocery stores.  He says, On my first shopping trip, I saw powdered milk – you just add water, and you get milk.  Then I saw powdered orange juice – you just add water, and you get orange juice.  And then I saw baby powder, and I thought to my self, what a country![2]
Well, Christians can get the wrong idea that it’s all that easy…accept Christ, and voilà, instant mature believer.  Not so; Jesus isn’t there just to be close to your heart like a friend, or a convenient vending machine to get your prayers answered; he’s there to take over your heart day by day, and change your heart so you’re less like you used to be, and more like Him!
Surrendered to Christ is a lot different than agreeing to the idea that Jesus is Lord and will take care of you.  And so, surrendered to Christ means you’re…
I'm certain that change is one of the least-liked words in the English language.  It seems people despise having their routines interrupted about as much as a baby complains about having the formula in his bottle changed. 
However, when it comes to teaching, you can only give out what you know. 
And you will only know Christ to the degree you have allowed Him free reign to change you into His image.
A teacher teaches from the heart, but also...
From the Head
Teach and counsel each other with all the wisdom he gives. Sing psalms and hymns and spiritual songs to God…  Colossians 3:16b(NLT)
Notice that there are three categories of learning mentioned by Paul: 
1.     Psalms (scripture),
2.     hymns (New Testament praise songs),
3.     spiritual songs (like our contemporary gospel songs),
These are the primary teaching vehicles. 
Believers have always sung their faith.  However, it is important to recognize that knowing Christ (Php 3.10) is the object of the music.  Music is a means whereby we praise and honor the Lord; it is not the end to which we aspire
The presentation of the music is secondary – what’s primary, first is how that music praises God and communicates the gospel message to the congregation.
People learn differently.  A good teacher will recognize the fundamental differences in how people learn and adapt accordingly.  Helping the body of Christ remember the Christian virtues requires that you teach effectively. 
¨     To some you will simply live it, and they will get the message. 
¨     To some, it is necessary to speak out plainly, admonishing or warning. Frankly, some “teaching” just doesn’t take in our culture with its’ short attention spans and ADD. 
¨     And, with still others, learning only takes place via making mistakes and suffering the consequences. 
A student made a mistake of identification.  He was in the college chapel for a required lecture.  He looked at the order of service and groaned loudly.  The middle-aged lady next to him asked what was the matter.  The student replied, It’s the preacher. He’s my director of studies. I have to go to his lectures and he’s the dullest man alive, utterly boring.
Oh, said the woman, Do you know who I am?  The student looked at her and said he didn’t. Well, said the woman, I’m the preacher’s wife!
The student said, And do you know who I am?
No, said the professor’s wife.  Hallelujah!, said the student, and ran out the door.
We all make mistakes.  If you are going to help the body learn and remember Christian virtues, teach from the heart, the head, and...
With Humility
singing with grace in your hearts to the Lord.  Colossians 3:16c(KJV)
It is important to remember that as Christians, we operate entirely by grace.  We have nothing to offer the body of Christ apart from that which is first given to us.  Humility should cradle everything we do. 
A preacher told about [his] youngest daughter, Angi, [who] graduated from the university and started teaching in an area college.  One day, she went to a nearby restaurant for lunch.  The man who seated her asked, Are you a teacher? Surprised, Angi replied, Why yes, I am.
She enjoyed a warm feeling throughout the meal; she looked like a teacher!
As she was leaving the restaurant, she asked the man, How did you know I was a teacherYou have chalk dust on your seat, he replied.[3]                 
Humility teaches us that you can find, memorize and recite facts, but wisdom must come from God.  If you are to help the body of Christ, grace must humble your heart. 
A young boy of 4 went to big church for the first time on Palm Sunday.  He heard of the suffering of Jesus, the cruelty of the soldiers and the mob.  He listened with rapt attention as the cross was described, and he sobbed when the minister said Jesus died for him.  And then the service was over; the boy expected the people to go out in hushed awe. 
This child, awed by the incredible gift of a king's son for him, but was even more amazed when the people broke into chatter, laughter and talk of mundane, everyday things. 
Didn't they know?  Hadn't they heard? 
But, that is the point, isn't it? 
Grace in the heart will humble you.  It will make you laugh after you've cried for a while. 
Humble people are helping people. 
Booker T. Washington was the renowned black educator, and an outstanding example of what grace looks like when the heart has been touched...
Shortly after he took over the presidency of Tuskegee Institute in Alabama, he was walking in an exclusive section of town when a wealthy white woman stopped him.  Not knowing the famous Mr. Washington by sight, she asked if he would like to earn a few dollars by chopping wood for her. 
Because he had no pressing business at the moment, Professor Washington smiled, rolled up his sleeves, and proceeded to do the humble chore she had requested.  When he was finished, he carried the logs into the house and stacked them by the fireplace. 
A little girl recognized him and later revealed his identity to the lady.  The next morning the embarrassed woman went to see Mr. Washington in his office at the institute and apologized profusely.  It's perfectly all right, Madam, he replied.  Occasionally I enjoy a little manual labor.  Besides, it's always a delight to do something for a friend. 
She shook his hand warmly and assured him that his meek and gracious attitude had endeared him and his work to her heart.  Not long afterward she showed her admiration by persuading some wealthy acquaintances to join her in donating thousands of dollars to the Tuskegee Institute.[4]
So, the Question Remains:  How Shall I Begin To Teach?
Let me assure you that you do not need a Ph.D. after your name to be a Godly teacher in the Kingdom. 
Harry Ironside was a great pastor and expositor of the Word.  He told of visiting a Godly man named Andrew Frazer who had come to southern California to recover from a serious illness. 
Though quite weak, Frazer opened his worn Bible and began expounding the deep truths of God in a way that Ironside had never heard before. 
Ironside was so moved by Frazer's words that he asked him, Where did you get these things?  Could you tell me where I could find a book that would open them up to me?  Did you learn them in some seminary or college?
The sickly man gave an answer that Ironside could not forget:  My dear young man, I learned these things on my knees on the mud floor of a little sod cottage in the north of Ireland.  There with my open Bible before me I used to kneel for hours at a time and ask the Spirit of God to reveal Christ to my soul and to open the Word to my heart.  He taught me more on my knees on that mud floor than I ever could have learned in all the seminaries or colleges in the world.[5]
Friends, it is the same for us. 
God loves a contrite heart, a head that's teachable, and a spirit that's humble
Those are the things you need to teach one another.
In the name of the Father, Son and Holy Spirit!


[1] Carl Heinrich Bloch [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons
[2] James Emery White, Rethinking the Church, Baker, 1997, p. 55-57
[3] David L. Roper, Judsonia, Arkansas, Christian Reader, "Lite Fare."
[4]H.G.B. Our Daily Bread
[5]The Bible Illustrator, (Hiawatha, Ia, Parson's Technology, 1990) Idx 2872

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