Avoiding Occasions for Reproach

A. reproach: A source or cause of disgrace or shame (to a person, etc.); a fact, matter, feature or quality bringing disgrace or discredit upon one.

B. A primary goal of us as Christians is to convert men to repent and follow Christ with us as members of His church in this world. 1TH 1:5-6. 1. We do this by sound reasoning from Scripture. ACT 17:2. 2. We do this by showing sinners a better way and hope. 1PE 3:15. 3. We do this by mirroring Christ in our conversation. EPH 4:13; COL 1:27-28. a. We can impair this directive by ungodliness, indiscretion, unfettered passion, etc. b. “Reflections cannot be seen in boiling water, nor can Christ be seen in a turbulent man.” (Unknown) c. We ought not to be the unreasonable characters from whom we pray to be delivered. 2TH 3:2. d. What do those who are without conclude from your manner of life and speech? (1) Do they see you as no different from the unbelievers you decry, lacking holiness or hope, lashing out in frustration against the forces you deem to be the enemies of good? (2) Or do they see you as one that values holy living in faith and hope which transcends the troubles of this life? (3) Faith or fear; hope or hell. What message are you telegraphing?

C. We are to conduct ourselves so as not to give the adversary occasion to speak reproachfully of Christ or His church. 1TI 5:14; 2SAM 12:14; TIT 2:8; 1CO 10:32-33. 1. Mind that the purest and most perfect life still generated reproach from sinners, unjustly. ROM 15:3. 2. If we are reproached for good faith, life and speech, this is cause for happiness. 1PE 3:14. 3. Being reproached for rank sin is a different story. 1PE 4:14-16. 4. This pertains even to everyday things like labor and service. 1TI 6:1; COL 3:22-24.

D. The church of Jesus Christ is a nation of higher values than the secular nations of this world. 1. It certainly ought not to hold company with sinners so scandalous that even an unbelieving world rejects them. 1CO 5:1. 2. We should also be concerned about behavior that the world permits in itself but not in us. 1CO 6:9-10. 3. We should even be concerned about ridiculous or inconsistent conduct which detracts from our witness. 1CO 11:22; 14:23. 4. One can go overboard with such concerns and end up condemning Christ. JOH 2:13-17.

E. Saints, especially ministers, should have a good report of men in general. 1TI 3:7; 3JO 1:12. 1. There is nothing wrong with being approved by good men. ROM 14:17-18. 2. What we don’t want is the approval of all men indiscriminately. LUK 6:22, 26.

F. Godly leaders should be especially sensitive to this issue. 1. Peter discredited the cause of Christ by his inconsistency. GAL 2:11-14. 2. Paul was much concerned that he should not defame Christ. 1CO 9:27; 2CO 6:3. 3. The wise will cut off occasion. NEH 6:13; 2CO 11:12. 4. All should be cautious to avoid the appearance of evil. 1TH 5:22.

G. Is this culture driving you to extremes? Beware! 1. Christ’s kingdom is not of this world (JOH 18:36; MAT 12:19) and this world is not our home. HEB 11:13. 2. We have a duty to shine as lights IN THE MIDST OF A CROOKED AND PERVERSE NATION. PHIL2:15-16. 3. Instead of cursing darkness, try being a candle that benefits others. MAT 5:15-16. 4. Do not let this crazy world drive you crazy, make you fret and so defile yourself or destroy your testimony. PSA 37:7-9.

H. Our tongues often betray us, discredit our Savior, and generate unwanted reproach. JAM 3:9-10. 1. Are there people out there walking in darkness, going the way of all flesh, ruining society, etc.? Be careful how you speak. 2. Without Christ, we be them. TIT 3:1-3. 3. Christ had every reason to revile men but He didn’t. 1PE 2:21-23. 4. Inappropriate and intemperate speech takes wings and spreads where you wouldn’t want it to go. ECC 10:20. 5. An ungoverned tongue can do great damage. JAM 3:5-6.

I. The best of efforts to live for Christ may not sway the minds of implacable men (MAT 11:16-17) but be good for goodness sake. A lost world is watching.

J. Living by faith and doing well patiently, reasonably is enough to stir the ire of ungodly people (PRO 29:27). Don’t give them extra ammunition.

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